What are dermal fillers?

Dermal fillers are gel-like medical products that help to restore skin and facial contours to their former youthful appearance.

How do dermal fillers work?

Dermal fillers are injected beneath the skin to restore lost volume, smooth lines and soften creases, as well as enhance facial contours.

They are often used to enhance or sculpt the following areas: 

  • Forehead 
  • Nose
  • Cheeks 
  • Temples
  • Nasolabial folds 
  • Marionette lines 
  • Chin 

What are the different types of fillers?

There are a myriad of fillers suited for different cosmetic needs. Finding the right one will depend on your skin’s needs – whether you're looking at wrinkle care, volume restoration or facial contouring. 

Types of filler What is it How it works What it targets
Hyaluronic acidA naturally occuring substance found in your body, in soft connective tissues and skin tissue.When injected, Hyaluronic Acid acts like a sponge, attracting water into the skin and plumping up that area of skin.Acne scars, cheek depressions, crow’s feet, deep smile lines and frown lines.
Calcium Hydroxylapatite (CaHA)A natural substance found mainly in our bones. When used in a filler, the calcium particles are microscopic and suspended in a thick gel-like solution.While it immediately replenishes lost facial volume, over time the gel is also absorbed. The body then metabolises the calcium, leaving behind your own collagen.Treats deeper wrinkles, restore volume in cheeks and other facial contours.
Poly-L-lactic AcidSynthetic compound that encourages the formation of new collagenHelp to rebuild your skin’s natural collagen. After a few days, the filler gel dissipates.Restore volume in cheeks, fill in hollows or sunken areas of the face, and increase skin thickness.
Polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA)A semi-permanent filler that takes the form of a “microsphere” or tiny ball.Provides immediate volume that lifts the skin. The filler remains beneath the skin indefinitely to provide continued support.Treats medium-to-deep wrinkles. Fills out pitted scars and augments thin lips.
Autologous fat injections (facial fat grafting)Fat is harvested from another area of body part, typically through liposuction. This is the only injectable filler treatment that requires surgery.The fat derived is purified and injected into the face to help restore volume at areas such as the cheeks, temples or lower eyelids.Enhances facial fullness, fills in deep creases and builds up shallow contours.

What can dermal fillers treat?

While dermal fillers are most famously known to smoothen out wrinkles, they can also help with the following cosmetic issues:

  • Enhance volume in sunken cheeks or the temple area
  • Get rid of vertical lip lines
  • Plump up lips
  • Improve facial symmetry 

Who are dermal fillers for?

Contrary to popular belief that fillers are meant for the older generation, in actuality they are commonly requested by those in their 20s and 30s. Dermal fillers are suitable for anyone who is experiencing facial volume loss and sagging, as well as those who want to enhance their looks. 

Besides rejuvenating your appearance by reducing wrinkles, fillers can also help to contour and structurally enhance facial features like your nose bridge or chin.

Healthy individuals over 21 years old are suitable for dermal fillers. After all, it’s never too early to start taking better care of your skin! 

What should I do before and after the procedure?

Before the procedure

One week prior to your filler treatment, avoid taking blood-thinning over-the-counter (OTC) medications like Ibuprofen and Aspirin, as it increases the risk of bruising.

2 days prior to the treatment, avoid topical anti-aging products such as Tretinoin (Retin-A), Retinol, Retinoids and Glycolic Acid. Additionally, avoid waxing, bleaching, tweezing, or using hair removal cream on the area to be treated.

1 day prior to the treatment, avoid consuming alcohol as it may cause the blood vessels to dilate, hence causing bruising.

After the procedure

You may experience the following common side effects after the treatment procedure. Here's how you can counter those with aftercare.

  • Bruising and swelling

Apply ice packs and stay away from intense physical activity for between 24 and 48 hours after the injection. 

  • Headache pain or pain at injection site

Take pain relief medication provided by your doctor. 

  • Redness and itching

This is normal and will usually go away within a few hours to days.

Additionally, you should avoid

  • Exposing the area to intense heat
  • Putting pressure on the treated areas for the first few nights: if possible, sleep on your back
  • Drinking alcohol within 24 hours of the procedure
  • Wearing AHA, Retinols/Vitamin C therapy or oil based make-up for 24 hours
  • Going for facials, facial waxing, AHA peels, IPL or energy based treatments for two weeks after treatment. 

Dermal fillers FAQ

How soon can I see results?

While everyone is different and individual results vary, most patients see almost immediate results within 24 to 48 hours after their injections. It takes a maximum of 14 days for the filler to settle.

Is there any downtime?

There isn’t any downtime and you can resume most activities, but it’s recommended that you stay away from intense physical activitiy for the first 24 to 48 hours to minimise swelling and bruising. With that said, recovery time does vary for each patient and also depends on the type of filler injected, so it’s best to check with your doctor.

Are there any side effects?

As with all medical procedures, there are side effects to fillers. Here are some common ones that tend to occur around the injection site, and that usually subside within 7 to 14 days: 

  • Redness
  • Mild to moderate swelling
  • Pain
  • Bruising
  • Itching
  • Rash

While less common, you should be aware of the following rarer and more serious side effects. Do notify your doctor immediately should you experience any of these:

  • Infection
  • Nodules around the injection site
  • Granulomas: an inflammatory reaction to the filler
  • Shifting of filler from one area to another
  • Blood vessel damage
  • Blindness
How long do fillers last?

Dermal fillers typically last between six months to 5 years, depending on the type. 

Types of filler

How long the effects last

Hyaluronic acid

6 to 12 months

Calcium Hydroxylapatite (CaHA)

Up to a year for contouring, 3 years when used to fill inwrinkles.

Poly-L-lactic Acid

Lasts 2 years

Polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA)

Up to 5 years

Autologous fat injections (facial fat grafting)

Varies from patient to patient, generally a few years