Dermal fillers are composed of various types of natural or man-made injectable materials that have been developed to cosmetically correct imperfections in the skin. Fillers have been used to aesthetically enhance a person's features for over a century. Doctors were able to take fat from patient's arms and inject it into their faces for cosmetic purposes as early as the 1890s. Fat fillers are the oldest procedure of this kind. Many surgeons still practice fat transfer procedures to enhance a patient's overall aesthetic image.
What types of dermal fillers are available?
In the mid 1900s, doctors experimented with silicone and paraffin fillers, but due to side effects and complications, use of these fillers never caught on. In the 1980s US surgeons discovered the many benefits of collagen fillers. Collagen fillers, approved by the FDA in 1981, can be of human, bovine, or synthetic origin. In 2004, collagen soft tissue fillers were used to enhance the appearance of more than 500,000 Americans. Nearly 70 percent of these procedures used human-derived collagen fillers (i.e. Isolagen) while the remaining 30 percent employed purified bovine, or cow-derived, fillers (i.e. Zyderm).
Hyaluronic acid fillers (Hylaform and Restylane) are rapidly gaining popularity in the United States. The number of patients who underwent a Hylaform or Restylane procedure increased by 927 percent from 2003 to 2004 alone. Biocompatible and safe, hyaluronic acid fillers are derived from a natural substance found in the spaces between the cells of the body. It is estimated that hyaluronic acid has been successfully used in over 30 million cosmetic and medical procedures around the world.
Formerly called Radiance, Radiesse is becoming a more popular procedure in the United States and abroad. Radiesse employs calcium hydroxylapatite fillers, similar to natural compounds found in the bones and teeth, to aesthetically enhance one's appearance. These fillers have been used in dental procedures and vocal cord reconstructive procedures for decades. Approved in 2003, nearly 60,000 Americans underwent a cosmetic procedure involving Radiesse fillers in 2004 alone.
Sculptra fillers are another type of filler used to enhance one's aesthetic features. Polylactic acid-based Sculptra fillers are the only FDA approved products used to cosmetically treat lipoatrophy. As the name would indicate, Sculptra fillers are used as sculpting agents more so than as simple wrinkle fillers.
Dermal fillers have a number of cosmetic applications. Dermal fillers are most commonly sought as a safe and effective way to diminish the appearance of fine lines and facial wrinkles, such as crow's feet, forehead wrinkles, and oral commissures. Collagen, Restylane, and other fillers are also used in lip augmentation procedures. Dermal fillers help restore the skin to its youthful appearance, making the treated area firmer and more aesthetically pleasing. Each procedure employing fillers for cosmetic procedures has its own risks and benefits that should be discussed in detail with a trained professional.