- Dermal fillers are a popular non-surgical treatment used to plug lines and wrinkles on the face.
- They are cheaper and less invasive than plastic surgery, but come with their own risks.
- An aesthetic physician shared seven things people should know before getting fillers.
Injectable cosmetic procedures have been commonplace since Kylie Jenner put lip fillers on the map back in 2015, with more than 5.5 million Botox and filler procedures performed in the US in 2021, according to data from Statista.
Dermal fillers, which are made up of a substance called hyaluronic acid, are used to plug lines and wrinkles or to add volume to the face or lips, and usually last between six and 18 months. Common treatments include lip filler, cheek filler, and non-surgical nose jobs.
But while they are cheaper and less invasive than plastic surgery, they come with their own set of risks.
“They’re not suitable for everyone, but in the right candidate, they’re a brilliant treatment.” Dr. Wassim Taktouk, an aesthetic physician and the medical director of Taktouk Clinic in London, told Insider.
He said that assessing patients and giving realistic expectations of the treatment is key. For instance, people with age-related volume loss will usually get the best results from dermal fillers, while someone with a fuller face may not benefit as much from getting a procedure like cheek fillers.
Taktouk shared the seven things he wishes people knew before getting dermal filler procedures.
Consider having a cooling-off period between your first appointment and the injection
One of the major benefits of fillers is that they are a non-surgical treatment, which carries benefits including less recovery time. However, you should still treat it like a surgical procedure, Taktouk said.
“I sit very firmly in the medical treatment camp and I think that they need to be looked at the same way you would a surgical procedure.”
He recommended having an initial consultation where you can ask the practitioner lots of questions before going ahead. Be aware of all of the risks and the likelihood of each happening before you get injected, and give yourself time to think it over.
“Go and think about it and don’t be impulsive. It’s your face you’re dealing with,” he said.
It’s important to ask what’s being put in your face
There are many different brands of dermal fillers, such as Juvéderm and Restylane, but they’re not all created equal, and if something seems unusually cheap it’s probably not the best product, said Taktouk said.
It’s also important to ask your practitioner what they are going to inject into your face and why, because the type of filler needs to match up with where it’s going.
For example, filler going deep down onto someone’s bone should mimic the consistency of bone, while filler on an area that’s mobile and moves must be able to stretch, he explained. For this, Taktouk uses Resilient Hyaluronic Acid, a newer type of filler specifically designed with facial expressions in mind.
“You’d be surprised how many patients come to me and say, ‘I don’t like the filler that I’ve had in my face.’ And I say, ‘well, what were they?’ And they say, ‘I don’t know,'” Taktouk said.
“It’s just not one size fits all. And I think that’s where things have gone wrong in the past.”
‘Natural’ might look different to different people
Many people getting cosmetic work done want to enhance a certain feature, but for it to still look “natural.”
However, beauty ideals can vary depending on who you’re asking, so it’s a good idea to be as specific as possible with your practitioner about the look you want to achieve.
“The idea of natural beauty might be very different to someone in Asia versus Europe versus America,” Taktouk said.
Certain medications can increase your risk of bruising and bleeding
When any kind of needle breaks the skin, there is always a risk of bruising, pain, swelling, and redness, Taktouk said.
But if someone is taking certain prescription medications — such as blood thinners, which interrupt the body’s blood clotting process, or supplements like omega-3 oil, which has a natural blood-thinning effect — their risk of bruising or bleeding might be higher.
Alcohol can also increase the chances of bruising and swelling so should be avoided at least 48 hours before getting filler.
People prone to cold sores could get a flare up
Taktouk warned that some people who are prone to cold sores can get a flare up if they have procedures like lip fillers, because the needle puncture might irritate the area that holds the herpes virus, which is what causes cold sores.
He tries to prevent this by giving at-risk patients antivirals in the days leading up to their procedure.
“It’s important to understand these things because they’re very easy things you can do to reduce these risks from happening,” he said.
Don’t touch your face
Injectable fillers break the skin, which means you have to be careful to avoid infection like you would with any wound.
You should keep the injected area clean both before and after the procedure, including not putting on makeup 24 hours after as it may contain bacteria, Taktouk said. Not touching your face with your hands after the procedure is particularly important.
Swelling is normal but pain isn’t
Hyaluronic acid is a bit like a sponge and will draw in some water when it’s first injected, which can sometimes cause mild swelling for a day or two. But anything that looks unusually swollen — think anaphylaxis or really overblown lips — is not normal, Taktouk said.
While tenderness after the injection is also normal, pain, or worsening pain after the injection is not. Neither are visual disturbances or skin tissue color changes.
If you experience any of these symptoms after treatment, you should speak to your doctor immediately, Taktouk said.