We spend a lot of time scrutinizing our faces. Every fine line, every emerging age spot, every hint that the areas under our eyes may be losing some of their volume and our jowls are beginning to sag.
It’s not a surprise, then, that “facial rejuvenation” treatments are the fastest growing segment of cosmetic procedures in the United States. Facial rejuvenation is an umbrella term that’s used to describe a range of therapies, both surgical and non-surgical, that, separately and in combination, can reverse the effects of sun damage and aging.
In an earlier post, I highlighted the wonder that is Fraxel lasers, which have proven effective for treating everything from dull skin to acne scarring. Here, I’ll get into everything you need to know about Botox and dermal fillers. Between them, they accounted for more than 10 million procedures in the United States in 2018. And all signs indicate they’re only going to continue to become even more prominent over the years ahead.
What can Botox help with?
Often, noninvasive treatments, like Botox and dermal fillers, represent the introduction to facial rejuvenation. (Though, they’re also effective for helping to maintain the results of surgical procedures, too.) They can be done during a brief office visit, the downtime is minimal, and they’re very effective. In other words, there’s a lot to like about them.
You’re probably already familiar with Botox. It’s become a household name since it was approved by the FDA for cosmetic use 17 years ago. It’s what’s known as a neuromodulator because it blocks muscular nerve signals, which weakens the targeted muscle, limiting or stopping it altogether from contracting.
That chain of events is what enables it to temporarily eliminate the sorts of wrinkles that result from constant contracting, or “dynamic wrinkles,” like crow’s feet, forehead furrows, and frown lines. The effects generally last for three to four months.
How are fillers different?
Botox will not do anything for fine lines and wrinkles caused by sagging or loss of plumpness in the face, otherwise known as “static wrinkles.” That’s where dermal fillers—sometimes called soft-tissue fillers—come in. They’re substances designed to be injected beneath the surface of the skin to add volume and fullness.
As we age, our bodies naturally lose fat. It’s especially evident in our faces. Most dermal fillers, such as Restylane, Voluma, or Juvéderm, work by replenishing the hyaluronic acid levels in your skin and pulling in moisture from the body to add to its plumping and smoothing effect.
Different kinds are designed to treat different signs of aging. Depending on the filler, they may:
- Plump thinning lips
- Enhance shallow areas on the face
- Decrease or remove the hollow area under the eyes
- Fill in or soften recessed scars
- Fill in or soften static wrinkles
The effects can last anywhere from six months to two years, depending on the filler. And because dermal fillers and Botox treat different things, they’re commonly combined in a single treatment.
They’re safe, too. A study found that Botox and filler procedures are very safe when they’re performed by experienced, board-certified dermatologists. Side effects occurred in less than one percent of patients, and most were minor.