There are a variety of injectable fillers today to treat facial lines, wrinkles, folds, and lips. Because they are new and well-advertised, marketing claims can cloud the actual science behind their effectiveness. Let’s sort out the science from the hype on injectable fillers.
With all of the new injectable fillers that available for facial concerns, and with the certainty that more are on the way in the next few years, it is important for patients to have some basic understanding of the similarities and differences between the choices that are currently available.
Types of Fillers
Two basic types of injectable soft tissue fillers are currently available: hyaluronic acid (HA or hyaluronic) and particulated (particle-containing) compositions. While both come out of a needle, they are quite different. Traditional particulated (particle-containing) has been replaced by the longer-lasting HAs since 2002. Since they are synthetic ‘knock-offs’ of natural human hyaluronic acid, the patient does not need a skin test prior to injection and they last at least twice as long as collagen. The alleged differences between the four commercially-available HA injectates (Restylane, Hylaform, Captique, and JuvaDerm) is largely marketing-driven and no clinical studies have ever compared how long all of them last compared to each other. Because they are like injecting a ‘soft form of Jello’, they can be used anywhere on the face including the lips (even though the FDA has never approved any injectable filler for use in the lips) without fear of excessive lumpiness.
JuvaDerm and Perlane are touted as lasting the longest currently and skin specialist observations are that it appears to be true. Newer more concentrated forms of HA are being developed that have the promise of greater longevity. The particulated fillers contain synthetic beads or particles (plastic or ceramic) in different liquid carriers. (Radiesse and ArteFill) Due to the non-resorption of the beads (which usually make up less than 25% of the solution), longer-lasting effects are seen than with the HAs. The beads that partially comprise the particulated fillers do not resorb, so theoretically over time, some permanent volume is acquired. The lips should not be injected with the particulated fillers due to the risk of lumpiness and foreign-body reactions. the common problem of deep nasolabial folds is an ideal location for the particulated injectable fillers.
Mix and Matching
Since no injectable filler is ideal for every patient or type of facial line or wrinkle, the best plastic surgeons usually work with two or three different ones to custom treat each facial problem. It would not be uncommon for them to use, for example, Radiesse in the nasolabial folds and Juvaderm in the lips in the same patient. Knowing the properties of each type of injectable filler allows them to be used to their best advantage.