Soft Tissue Fillers
Arm Lift Quick Facts
- Best Candidates: People who want to soften lines and wrinkles by adding skin volume
- Procedure Length: A few minutes
- Inpatient/Outpatient: Outpatient
- Anesthesia: None required
- Results: Temporary
- Procedures in 2020: 3,410,730 (source: American Society of Plastic Surgeons)
Injectable soft tissue fillers are used to add volume to the skin and smooth wrinkles in areas such as the face, neck and hands. If you are looking for a smoother and more vibrant appearance, dermal fillers offer a minimally-invasive "lunchtime treatment" with no downtime. As the natural ingredients that give your skin its youthful volume and elasticity decline over time, soft tissue fillers can be used to temporarily soften facial lines and wrinkles, give you fuller lips and fill recessed scars, such as acne scars.
Soft Tissue Fillers Overview
Add Skin Volume to Smooth Lines and Wrinkles
Soft tissue fillers are injected into the skin to treat static wrinkles that form when the skin loses volume and support as we grow older. As levels of substances such as hyaluronic acid and collagen diminish with age, line and wrinkles begin to form around the mouth, eyes, forehead and jaw.
Dermal fillers are often called "liquid facelifts" for their ability to rejuvenate the face by smoothing out and relaxing the appearance of smile lines, lipstick lines, marionette lines and other types of facial wrinkles. Rejuvenation with soft tissue fillers is temporary, so treatments must be repeated periodically to maintain your results.
Types of Soft Tissue Fillers
Hyaluronic Acid Dermal Fillers
Hyaluronic acid is a natural substance found in the human body. Often called "nature's moisturizer," hyaluronic acid binds moisture and plays a major role in keeping the skin hydrated and volumized. Levels of hyaluronic acid in the skin decrease as we get older, causing the skin to become drier, thinner and leading to the formation of wrinkles and older-looking skin.
Products that contain hyaluronic acid are the most popular type of soft tissue fillers. These injectables are used to instantly smooth away wrinkles and soften the signs of facial aging. By bringing back lost skin volume, hyaluronic acid fillers are an effective treatment for problem areas such as the nasolabial folds (smile lines), marionette lines and vertical lip lines.
Popular hyaluronic acid soft tissue fillers include Belotero Balance, Hylaform, Juvéderm, Perlane, Prevelle Silk and Restylane. Results are temporary, with follow-up treatments generally recommended after 6 months to a year.
Calcium Hydroxylapatite Dermal Fillers
Calcium hydroxylapatite is a natural mineral that make up a large part of our teeth and bones. Radiesse Volumizing Filler is composed of calcium hydroxylapatite microspheres suspended in an aqueous gel. Radiesse is used to correct moderate to severe facial wrinkles and folds, such as smile lines, marionette lines, the corners of the mouth, the pre-jowl area and chin wrinkles.
Radiesse with calcium hydroxylapatite adds instant volume and lift, while also providing a structure for the growth of your own natural collagen. Many patients see results that last up to a year or more.
Synthetic Dermal Fillers
Sculptra Aesthetic is an injectable poly-L-lactic acid that reinforces the structure of the skin by helping to replace lost collagen. Unlike most other soft tissue fillers, results with Sculptra are not immediate, typically taking 6 to 8 weeks to fully develop. However, by stimulating collagen production in the deep dermis, the effect can last more than 2 years. Poly-L-lactic acid is used to correct facial folds and wrinkles such as the nasolabial folds, marionette lines and chin wrinkles.
Soft tissue fillers such as Artefill, Articol and Metacrill contain polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) microspheres suspended in a solution of bovine collagen. The collagen reduces wrinkles immediately while the non-absorbable microspheres work with the collagen in your body to provide a support matrix for long-lasting wrinkle correction. Treatments for areas such as the nasolabial folds and smile lines are expected to improve over the course of several months.
Autologous Fat Transfer
Fat Transfer procedures (also called Fat Injection or Fat Grafting) uses your own natural fat to fill in depressed scars and add volume to the face, hands, breasts or buttocks. The fat is harvested from areas such as the abdomen, hips and outer thighs with liposuction. This filler material is then purified and reinjected into the body. Fat transfer is a more extensive procedure than other soft tissue fillers, but is longer-lasting and carries the additional benefit of contouring areas around the midsection.
Collagen Dermal Fillers
Collagen is a fibrous protein that accounts for about 30% of the protein in the human body. The abundance of collagen is a major reason that young skin stays firm, strong and elastic. Collagen levels decrease as we age, causing lines and wrinkles, sagging and older-looking skin.
Collagen fillers are purified from either human skin or cow skin (bovine collagen). Human-based collagen products include Cosmoderm, Cosmoplast, Cymetra, Dermalogen and Fascian. Bovine-based products include Zyderm and Zyplast. Patients who receive bovine collagen must have a skin test for the possibility of an allergic reaction.
Collagen-based soft tissue fillers are injected into the collagen layer just beneath the skin to fill lines and deep facial wrinkles and restore the lip border. They can be expected to last from 3 to 6 months. Most plastic surgeons have primarily switched to hyaluronic acid fillers due to their longer-lasting results.
Soft Tissue Filler Treatments
It is very important to choose a healthcare provider with the education, training and experience you can trust to administer your dermal filler injections. The injections must be expertly placed to achieve the best possible outcome with natural-looking results. Your level of comfort with your plastic surgeon's office is particularly important because you will likely choose to maintain your results with ongoing wrinkle filler treatments.
Because soft tissue filler procedures are minimally-invasive and low-risk, your consultation can usually be scheduled on the same day as your first treatment. At the consultation, you and your provider will discuss your goals for facial rejuvenation and address your questions and concerns. You will undergo an examination and be asked to review your medical history, including medications you currently take.
You and your provider will evaluate your options and decide upon the best course of treatment considering your age, type of skin and the severity of your wrinkles. Your provider should explain how the treatment will be performed, the full cost, the results that can be expected and the risks and possible complications. Photos may be taken so you can compare your results before and after your soft tissue filler treatment.
Treatments with dermal fillers usually take just a few minutes and are relatively painless. First, the skin is cleansed and a topical anesthetic may be used to numb the area of the injections. Some products contain a local anesthetic such as lidocaine. Using a very small needle, your provider then precisely injects the wrinkle filler into the areas targeted for rejuvenation. Deeper wrinkles and certain types of scars may require multiple injections.
Soft Tissue Filler Costs
The cost of cosmetic treatments with dermal filler injections can vary based on a number of factors, including:
- The expertise and experience of the person who performs the treatment.
- The amount of filler material used.
- The number of areas treated and their location.
The cost of your wrinkle treatments will be discussed when you are planning your procedure with your plastic surgeon. This discussion should include the cost of follow-up treatments or touch-ups that will be needed to maintain your results.
When investing in your appearance, cost should not be the primary factor for selecting your provider for soft tissue fillers. The experience and training of your surgeon and his or her staff, as well as your level of comfort with the practice and confidence in their ability to meet your expectations, are the most important parts of your evaluation.
Treatments with dermal fillers for cosmetic reasons are not covered by most health insurance plans. Many plastic surgeons offer access to convenient financing plans to make your procedure more affordable.
Soft Tissue Filler Risks
All procedures carry some degree of risk, but treatments with injectables soft tissue fillers are generally considered to have a low risk of complications or serious side effects. The best way to minimize your risk is to follow all instructions given to you by your plastic surgeon both before and after your dermal filler treatment.
Contact your plastic surgeon's office immediately if you experience bruising, swelling, redness, acute pain or bumps around the injection sites that seem to be abnormal or excessive.
Soft Tissue Filler Recovery and Results
Following your treatment with a soft tissue filler, you may be given an ice pack to reduce any minor discomfort or swelling. Makeup may be carefully applied, but be sure not to apply pressure to or rub the treated areas to prevent movement of the filler material.
Soft tissue fillers are a minimally-invasive cosmetic procedure with little risk. Patients experience no downtime and can resume normal activities immediately. Patients may experience a minor degree of redness, swelling or bruising which should dissipate within a few days.
Facial rejuvenation with dermal fillers add youthful skin volume and smooth unwanted wrinkles with immediate results. The length of your results will depend on the type of wrinkle filler chosen by you and your plastic surgeon to best suit your aesthetic needs. Thereafter, touch-ups and periodic maintenance treatments can be used to keep you skin looking soft, vibrant and full.