Anti-Aging Guide: Dermal Fillers

If you’re bothered by the early signs of aging — lines and wrinkles — but not ready for a full-fledged plastic surgery procedure, non-surgical injectables can be an effective solution. Here’s what dermal fillers can do to combat signs of aging, according to American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) and American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS).

Calcium Hydroxylapatite (Radiesse®)

The heaviest of facial dermal fillers, calcium hydroxylapatite (i.e. Radiesse) is a mineral-like compound found naturally in human bones. Uses include moderate-to-severe creases such as nasolabial folds, marionette lines and frown lines as well as enhancing fullness of the cheeks and other facial contours. The injection contains calcium-based microspheres suspended in a water-based gel, which act as a scaffolding onto which your own collagen grows. This produces a very natural result, according to ASPS. The ASPS average fee in 2011 was $626.

Hyaluronic Acid Injections (Juvederm Ultra®, Juvederm Ultra Plus®, Perlane®, Prevelle Silk®, Restylane®)

A natural substance found in the human body, hyaluronic acid (i.e. Juvederm or Restylane)  is also one of the most popular kinds of injectable fillers, according to the ASPS. Injected through very fine needles in specific areas of the face, hyaluronic acid creates a cushion to support facial structures and tissues. It can also make the skin look more fresh and supple, since it also brings water to the skin’s surface. While it’s a temporary solution, lasting between three to five months, it’s a great option for creating a major improvement. Average fees in 2011 for hyaluronic acid treatment (typically taking less than 30 minutes) were $529.

Collagen Fillers (Human, Bovine or Porcine)

Collagen filler (from human skin or animals) can be one way to rejuvenate sun-damaged or aging skin or plump up lips that have lost their volume. Taking just seconds per site, your surgeon will inject the area with the type of collagen chosen. (Animal-based collagen will require skin allergy testing prior to injection.) The results will last about three months, after which your body will begin to reabsorb the collagen, necessitating repeat treatment to maintain results.

According to the ASPS, most patients undergoing collagen injections are 35 to 60 years old and focused on minimizing the early signs of aging. While older patients can also have collagen treatments, it’s most effective for skin that is still relatively flexible. In 2011, fees averaged $468 to $520, although there may be additional costs involved.

PMMA (Polymethyl-Methacrylate Microspheres) (Artefill®)

Considered a semi-permanent filler, PMMA injections treat medium-to-deep wrinkles, folds and furrows, particularly nasolabial folds as well as pitted scars and thin lips. The injection consists of PMMA fillers in a purified collagen gel, which ultimately breaks down and is replaced by your body’s own collagen. Keep in mind that it can take a number of injections to create volume and up to three months for the full effects. Average 2011 fees for PMMA fillers were $995.

Polylactic Acid (Sculptra®)

More than just a dermal filler, polylactic acid (i.e. Sculptra) actually stimulates your own collagen production. It’s effective for laugh lines and deep nasolabial folds as well as plumping up thin lips. Unlike other dermal fillers, however, you’ll need about three once-a-month treatments to achieve your desired results, and while considered semi-permanent, you may still need occasional booster injections. The 2011 averages for fees per treatments were $987.


A semi-permanent dermal filler, polyalkylimide is used for deeper wrinkles, depressed scars or thin lips. It can also enhance cheekbones and the jawline and plump facial volume lost due to age. After injection, your plastic surgeon molds it into place, with your own collagen eventually forming around it. Polyalkylimide is biocompatible (no allergy test needed) and can be combined with other types of dermal fillers more suitable for fine lines and wrinkles.

Fat Injections

Fat injections can be used to recontour your face, reduce lines and wrinkles, plump lips, and redefine the cheek and chin. While your own body fat can be an excellent soft tissue filler, noted the ASAPS, it must be harvested from other body areas via a small needle and then re-injected after processing into the desired area. It can take 3 to 4 treatments over a six-month period to achieve the longest-lasting effect. The ASPS 2011 fee estimate was $1,658.

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