Hyaluronic acid fillers: what you need to know
LAST UPDATED: Jun 23, 2022
3 MIN READ
HERE'S WHAT WE'LL COVER
Volume and hydration are essential to younger-looking skin. With age, skin elasticity decreases, and fine lines and wrinkles slowly appear around our eyes, mouth, and forehead.
Hyaluronic acid fillers are a popular way to combat signs of aging by adding volume, structure, and plumpness to facial features. If you’re looking to add dermal fillers into your skincare routine, here are the benefits and risks.
What are hyaluronic acid fillers?
Hyaluronic acid (HA) is naturally produced in the fluid of our eyes, skin, and joints. One of its roles is retaining moisture to keep skin hydrated and healthy. HA can attract and bind water up to 1,000 times its volume (Brandt, 2008).
HA fillers have a gel-like consistency and are a popular cosmetic treatment for fine lines, wrinkles, and plumping up the skin. These dermal fillers are FDA-approved for the following uses in adults over age 21 (Walker, 2021; FDA, 2021):
Moderate to severe facial wrinkles and skin folds
Tissue augmentation (increasing volume of lips, cheeks, chin, and back of hands)
Benefits of hyaluronic acid fillers
Hyaluronic acid is vital to maintaining healthy skin, which is why HA injectable fillers are useful for rejuvenating skin and reducing signs of aging. Here are some of the main benefits of HA fillers (Walker, 2021; Bukhari, 2018):
Skin and lip augmentation
Stimulates collagen production
Improves skin hydration
Immediate and long-lasting results (up to a year)
Reduces signs of aging (creases, smile lines, and wrinkles)
What to expect during a hyaluronic acid treatment
Hyaluronic filler injections are a relatively non-invasive cosmetic procedure administered by a licensed healthcare professional. The filler material is injected under the skin at varying depths, depending on the areas you are treating (Walker, 2021).
The procedure takes around 10–60 minutes, depending on how many areas of the face are being treated. An anesthetic like lidocaine will often be applied before the procedure to reduce pain.
Results are immediate, though it can take two weeks for the gel to settle and fully take effect. Injections can last up to a year, and it’s recommended to get another once signs of aging reappear (AAD, n.d.).
Common brands of hyaluronic acid dermal fillers include (ABFCS, 2021):
Risks and side effects of injectable fillers
Dermal fillers are highly effective and safe, but there are complications and side effects to be aware of. Over 90% of side effects from HA fillers come from the injection itself. These are typically mild and include (Murthy, 2019):
Injection site pain
To avoid complications, medical professionals may recommend stopping blood thinners and any supplements you take a week before treatment to prevent bruising and unwanted bleeding (King, 2017).
Severe reactions following HA treatment are rare, but include (Murthy, 2019):
Secondary infection at the injection site
Reactivation of the herpes simplex virus
Lumps that appear years after treatment
Skin necrosis (death of body tissue) from inadvertently injecting into an artery or vein
Vascular occlusion (blood flow blockage)
Vision loss (if blood flow to eye is blocked)
Because of the risk of complications, a licensed and trained dermatologist, plastic surgeon, or healthcare professional must administer dermal fillings in a clean, sterile environment.
Hyaluronic acid aftercare
After treatment, the goal is to minimize bruising and allow the product to successfully settle in the skin. To reap all its benefits, here are some self-care tips after getting dermal fillers (ASPS, n.d.; AAD, n.d.):
Avoid strenuous activity for the first 24–48 hours.
Drink lots of water.
Apply ice to your face throughout the day.
Stay out of the sun.
Avoid touching the treated area for three days, unless instructed to do so.
Contact your healthcare provider right away if you experience severe pain, decreased vision, muscle weakness, or signs of infection following treatment. Hyaluronic acid fillers are a safe and effective option to rejuvenate and hydrate skin, maximize volume, and reduce signs of aging. Talk with a licensed and trained healthcare provider to see if dermal fillers are right for you.
If you have any medical questions or concerns, please talk to your healthcare provider. The articles on Health Guide are underpinned by peer-reviewed research and information drawn from medical societies and governmental agencies. However, they are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
American Academy of Dermatology Association (AAD). (n.d.). Fillers: FAQ . Retrieved on June from https://www.aad.org/public/cosmetic/wrinkles/fillers-faqs
American Board of Facial Cosmetic Surgery (ABFCS). (2021). Your guide to injectable dermal fillers . Retrieved from https://www.ambrdfcs.org/blog/injectable-dermal-fillers-guide/#hyaluronic-acid-fillers
American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS). (n.d.). Dermal fillers recovery . Retrieved from https://www.plasticsurgery.org/cosmetic-procedures/dermal-fillers/recovery
Brandt, F. S. & Cazzaniga, A. (2008). Hyaluronic acid gel fillers in the management of facial aging. Clinical Interventions in Aging, 3 (1), 153-159. doi:10.2147/cia.s2135. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2544360/
Bukhari, S. N., Roswandi, N. L., Waqas, M., et al. (2018). Hyaluronic acid, a promising skin rejuvenating biomedicine: A review of recent updates and pre-clinical and clinical investigations on cosmetic and nutricosmetic effects. International Journal of Biological Macromolecules, 120 (Pt B), 1682-1695. doi:10.1016/j.ijbiomac.2018.09.188. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30287361/
Fink, B. & Prager, M. (2014). The effect of incobotulinumtoxin a and dermal filler treatment on perception of age, health, and attractiveness of female faces. The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, 7 (1), 36-40. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3930539/
John, H. E. & Price R. D. (2009). Perspectives in the selection of hyaluronic acid fillers for facial wrinkles and aging skin. Patient Preference and Adherence, 3, 225-230. Retrieved from https://www.dovepress.com/getfile.php?fileID=5077
King, M. (2017). The management of bruising following nonsurgical cosmetic treatment. The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, 10 (2). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5367875/
Murthy, R., Roos, J., & Goldberg, R. (2019). Periocular hyaluronic acid fillers: Applications, implications, complications. Current Opinion in Ophthalmology, 30 (5), 395-400. doi:10.1097/ICU.0000000000000595. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/334152260_Periocular_hyaluronic_acid_fillers_Applications_implications_complications
U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). (2021). Dermal fillers (soft tissue fillers) . Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/medical-devices/aesthetic-cosmetic-devices/dermal-fillers-soft-tissue-fillers
Walker, K., Basehore, B. M., Goyal, A., et al. (2021). Hyaluronic acid. StatPearls. Retrieved on Jun 23, 2022 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482440/