How do Dermal Fillers Work?

May 5, 2014

Woman Happy After FillersDermal fillers are one of the best options for individuals who want to age gracefully, without looking old and tired!  Robin Wright, star of Netflix’s “House of Cards” has said about Botox: “I use the tiniest sprinkle of Botox twice a year, just one unit, and it’s just sprinkled here and there to take the edge off”.  She goes on further to state “Everybody does it. I suppose I can’t say ‘everybody’ because I don’t know for sure, but come on… I think most women do 10 units [of Botox], but that freezes the face and you can’t move it.” While Botox is a viable option when performed properly, never injecting too much to leave a “frozen” look, Fillers are another unique option that can provide extremely positive results for those looking to reduce their wrinkles and turn back the clock.

Dermal Fillers 101

Dermal filler is actually a broad term that covers many different products.  There are three main categories of fillers which include collagen based fillers, hyaluronic acid based fillers, and collagen stimulating products.  At DreamBody Medical Centers, we offer Juvederm, a hyaluronic acid fillers.

Collagen based dermal fillers are derived from human, porcine and bovine sources.  Most collagen based fillers require allergy testing prior to use to ensure no allergic reaction will result, especially if their ingredients are derived from an animal source.  Collagen injections are usually needed at one or two month intervals to achieve the desired result.  Brand names include Zyderm, Artefill, and Autologen, as well as many others.   Collagen lip injections remain in-demand because they give clients the appearance of plump and youthful lips.

The hyaluronic acid based fillers are popular for many reasons.  These do not require pre-allergy testing because they are derived from synthetic sources.  They also require less injections for the desired result, and the results usually last months to years.  Hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring substance found in the spaces between the cells of body tissues.  Juvederm and Restalyne are popular brand names of “HA” fillers.  HA fillers swell the tissues, smoothing away wrinkles and restoring plumpness to sagging areas.

Collagen stimulating products such as Sculptra do not rely on the volume of substance injected for results like other dermal fillers.  Instead, products like Sculptra and Radiesse stimulate long-term collagen production when they are injected into the skin.

The History of Dermal Fillers

How long have professionals been using dermal fillers?  Paraffin wax injections in the early and mid 1900s were the first dermal fillers, but fell out of favor due to complications.  Silicone was next used in the 1940s, but banned because of adverse reactions.   The first injectable substance approved for soft-tissue augmentation by the FDA was Zyderm in the 1970s, an injectable collagen.  Injectable collagen remained the only option for dermal fillers until 2003, when the FDA approved a hyaluronic acid filler, Restylane, which remains a popular dermal filler. In the past few years, substances that stimulate increased collagen production have been approved and are becoming used more and more often. Juvederm, an FDA approved product is the first of its kind to have a smooth consistency, giving you the best results possible.

Benefits of Dermal Fillers

So what are the benefits of dermal fillers?  Some surgeons have started calling them “liquid facelifts”, and I think this is a pretty accurate description.  After treatment with most dermal fillers, skin becomes smoother, fuller, and more youthful-looking.  Fullness can be added to areas of the face such as the lips, cheeks and forehead.  It is a fast and effective way to smooth facial lines, define lip borders, and add fullness and plumpness to thinning lips.

How Dermal Fillers Work

All dermal fillers work in similar but uniquely different ways.  Collagen-based dermal fillers are injected into the dermis. This dermis layer is made up of the protein collagen, which is a key support structure in your skin.  Collagen fillers can be used to decrease the signs of aging such as wrinkles and fine lines, as well as fill scars and add volume.   Collagen fillers are derived either from human skin or animals, including cows and pigs.  The human derived collagen fillers may be autologous, which means they are harvested from your own body and processed into a liquid, injectable form.  This liquid can be stored safely and reused for up to five years.  Human cadaver skin is also harvested, sterilized, and processed under strict regulations to provide collagen fillers.

Hyaluronic acid fillers contain a substance that is found in most living creatures.  It is part of the network that transfers essential nutrients from the bloodstream to skin cells.  It has been extracted and reformulated and now has become one of the most popular kinds of injectable fillers.  Hyaluronic acid is not derived from animal sources.  After injection into the skin, hyaluronic acid swells and this swelling plumps the skin, adding lost volume to it.  This plumping reduces fine lines and wrinkles, and add youthful-looking contours to the face.  The skin remains elastic so one does not get the “frozen face” look seen in users of Botox.

Collagen stimulating products contain polylactic acid, which stimulate your own production of collagen.  This product is of course different than the collagen injection or hyaluronic acid fillers, and actually will require a few monthly visits to achieve the desired results.  Results are more gradual but are also semi-permanent, as a polylactic acid substance will continue to stimulate the body to increase its production of collagen.


Dermal fillers can smooth and plump problem areas of the facial skin.  If you are experiencing loss of lip fullness, fine and deep lines, and sagging cheek areas, you may want to speak to a professional to decide which dermal filler is right for you.  You may be a candidate for dermal fillers if you want to restore plumpness and firmness to drooping areas, smooth wrinkles, and create an overall more youthful appearance.  Also, if you are experiencing “parentheses” around the mouth, sagging to the cheeks or bags underneath the eyes, then dermal fillers may be just what the doctor ordered.   Contact us at 480-907-3917 or book an appointment online.  Dermal fillers can take years off the face in a safe and non-invasive manner, with results that can be long-lasting.


The Telegraph, Feb 9, 2014. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/10621566/Robin-Wright-on-House-of-Cards-Botox-and-getting-married-again.html

Dermal Fillers American Society of Plastic Surgeons http://www.plasticsurgery.org/

The Science of Dermal Fillers Susan H. Weinkle, MD.  Medscape Education Dermatology