We all inevitably face the effects of aging, but those effects can be more disheartening for some of us than others. When wrinkles, creases, fine lines, depressions and other facial blemishes become an issue one of the easiest and most satisfactory ways of combating them is by using trans-dermal fillers.

These substances work to fill in depressed areas to provide volume and smooth away fine lines and wrinkles for a more youthful effect. There are several different types of fillers on the market today, each with their own unique set of pros and cons. Before opting for this kind of treatment, you should do your homework and determine which option is best for you.

Hyaluronic Acid Fillers – The Most Popular Choice

This category of fillers, including such common brands as Juvederm, Restylane and Prevelle, contains a natural substance that can be derived from either an animal or plant source. Hyaluronic acid works by attracting water and thus increasing the volume of the skin. The injection material is in the form of a gel, which is broken down and absorbed by the body. Injections generally cost between $600-$800 per syringe.

Pros: Since this is a substance naturally found in the body, there is little chance of serious side effects or allergic reaction. Results are almost immediately visible and can last as long as six months to a year. If for any reason you are unhappy with the results, the hyaluronic acid can be instantly broken down with an injection of the enzyme hyaluronidase.

Cons: Because the results only last up to a year, repeat treatments may be necessary, which can drive up the overall cost. Also, results can last even less time in areas such as the lips, where the blood flow is greater, increasing the need for repeat treatments even more.

Hydroxylapatite Fillers

Using a naturally occurring substance called hydroxylapatite, the popular filler Radiesse (also known as Radiance), can provide fullness to deep wrinkles and folds. It is most commonly used to treat crow’s feet, marionette lines and nasolabial folds. Hydroxylapatite works by stimulating the body’s own production of collagen and is naturally absorbed by the body over time, allowing for the effects of treatment to last as long as 12-18 weeks.

Pros: Radiesse is much more effective for the deep folds around the nose and mouth than hyaluronic acid fillers. Because the effects last longer, there is less need for repeat treatment, which can keep costs down even more. This is particularly advantageous as this particular treatment can cost as much as $650 to $800 per syringe.

Cons: The syringe needed for this type of filler is larger than those of other fillers, which means it can not easily be applied for treatment of fine lines and wrinkles. It is also not recommended for use on the lips, as it can cause cysts to form.

Poly-L-Lactic Acid Fillers

Sculptra (also marketed as New-Fill) is the newest form of dermal filler and it uses a synthetic substance called poly-l-lactic acid. This unique substance is in the form of a powder base mixed with water, which allows for more even distribution over the entire area to be treated. Once inside the body, it stimulates the natural production of collagen, providing long-lasting results.

Pros: The main plus of Sculptra is that, because it stimulates the natural collagen production process in the body, its effects can last far longer than those of other fillers, often up to two years. Also, since the process is a gradual one, the results tend to be more natural looking.

Cons: Because it is meant to be administered over a larger area, Sculptra is not appropriate for targeting individual wrinkles and lines. It can also require multiple treatments to get the desired effect and each treatment can cost between $600 and $1,000. Finally, because it promotes the natural production of collagen, it can take weeks or even months for the full effects to become noticeable.

Natural Collagen Fillers

Fillers such as Zyderm, Zyplast, CosmoDerm and CosmoPlast use collagen, the natural substance that makes the skin seem more full and smoother. Zyderm and Zyplast use collagen extracted from cows while CosmoDerm and CosmoPlast use collagen extracted from purified human tissue. These were the first commercially successful fillers and are recommended for treating frown lines, crow’s feet, forehead lines, vertical lip lines and other wrinkles and creases. They are also useful for filling in scars and are one of the few fillers that are actually recommended for filling in fine lines and wrinkles in the delicate skin around the eyes. Side effects include bruising and redness at the injection site.

Pros: New processing procedures have rendered these fillers some of the safest on the market today. The use of human collagen in some products virtually eliminates the possibility of allergic reaction.

Cons: The effects of these fillers, while pronounced, tend to be less lasting than those from other fillers. In most cases, the effects will last up to six months as compared to a year or more for some other types of fillers. The bovine based fillers can cause allergic reactions in some individuals.

Fat fillers

These fillers use fat taken from the patient’s own body. They are not very common any more, but are still used in some rare cases. Designed to help reduce the appearance of wrinkles and creases in the face, these are relatively safe compared to most fillers as they use an entirely natural substance taken from your own body. The fat used for this procedure is usually taken from the stomach, thighs or buttocks.

Pros: By far the biggest advantage of these fillers is the fact that their effects can actually be permanent. This can keep costs down by reducing the need for multiple treatments.

Cons: Because these fillers use fat taken from your own body, the treatment requires two separate procedures, one to remove the fat and the second to inject it into the face. Both can be completed in the same appointment. Even though the results may be permanent, you still may need multiple treatments to achieve the desired effect. Depending on how much fat is extracted and implanted, the recovery time may be much longer than that from other types of fillers.

PMMA Fillers (Artefill)

PMMA fillers, such as Artefill, contain tiny microspheres of a substance called polymethyl-methacrylate, which are contained within a collagen gel. When the filler is injected, the collagen within it creates an instant filling and smoothing effect. Over time, that collagen breaks down and your body is stimulated into creating collagen of its own. These fillers are recommended for treating medium to deep wrinkles and creases such as the nasolabial folds, to fill out deep scars and to help add volume to thinning lips.

Pros: The PMMA microspheres are not broken down or absorbed with the collagen, so they remain in the body to provide a framework for the collagen to adhere to. This means that the results achieved with these fillers are semi-permanent, unlike those achieved with other fillers that break down over time, requiring repeat treatments.

Cons: A series of treatments may be needed to achieve the optimal effect and the full effect may not be reached for up to three months. Because the microspheres do not break down, they may remain visible under the skin if the injections are not performed properly. These treatments can also be more expensive than some of the other options, though prices can vary from location to location and doctor to doctor.

So those are your options when it comes to facial fillers. All have their advantages and drawbacks, so it’s just a matter of speaking with your dermatologist to determine which procedure makes the most sense for your particular situation.

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