When it comes to fighting the visible signs of aging, there are plenty of over-the-counter cosmetic treatments available of varying quality and efficacy. However, for superior results and the safest possible treatments, people are increasingly turning to their doctors.
Cosmetic specialists, and even some bulk billed doctors, offer a wide range of cosmetic treatments designed to minimise the signs of aging, reduce visibility of fine lines and wrinkles, and smooth and plump the skin.
Two of the most popular treatments are dermal fillers and anti-wrinkle injections, most commonly products like Botox. But what are they and which is right for you? Let’s have a look at some of the differences between dermal fillers and anti-wrinkle injections.
What is Botox?
Botox is the trade name for an anti-wrinkle injection manufactured from the botulinum toxin. While botulinum toxins are among the most poisonous toxins known, they are also widely (and safely) used commercially and medically.
Preparations of the toxin containing purified bacteria are commonly used as a relaxant to treat a range of muscle disorders including spasms and clenching, cerebral palsy, post-stroke spasticity, bladder dysfunction and eye alignment or eye twitching problems. It can also be used to treat excessive sweating and migraines.
Most commonly, Botox is used in cosmetic dermatology to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It’s generally used to treat what are known as dynamic wrinkles caused by normal movements of the facial muscles (like smiling, frowning and squinting). These wrinkles are particularly common around the eyes and mouth, as well as the forehead and around the eyebrows and can become deeper and more pronounced with age.
Botox is not generally used to treat static wrinkles in the cheeks, neck or jowls as these are usually caused by sagging or loss of plumpness in the face, rather than muscle movement.
Botox works by relaxing or partially paralysing the muscles around the injection point, reducing muscle movement and tightening the skin to reduce the appearance of dynamic wrinkles. Your doctor will identify which muscles are contributing to the wrinkles and determine your injections based on this assessment. The treatment only takes a few minutes and usually leads to noticeable results within a few weeks.
It’s worth noting that Botox is not a permanent treatment. In general, the muscle relaxing effects last for between three and four months before repeat treatments are required.
Side effects and risks
When performed by a trained healthcare professional, Botox injections are quite safe. However, there are some potential side effects and complications including:
- Pain, swelling or bruising at the injection site
- Possible muscle paralysis (leading to crooked smiles or drooping eyelids)
- Headaches or flu-like symptoms
- Rashes and itching
- Eye dryness or excessive tearing
If you notice any side effects after treatment, you should consult your doctor immediately.
What are dermal fillers?
Dermal fillers, also known as soft tissue fillers, include a range of substances designed to add volume, plumpness and fullness to the face when injected beneath the skin.
They encompass a range of different materials including:
- Hyaluronic acid – a substance naturally produced by the body that helps to retain water to keep tissues lubricated and moist.
- Calcium hydroxylapatite – naturally occurring in human bones, this calcium-based injectable dermal filler is suspended in a gel carrier.
- Polyalkylimide – a semi-permanent and highly stable dermal filler that can be injected in high volumes.
- Polylactic acid – a synthetic dermal filler that stimulates collagen production.
- Polymethyl-methacrylate microspheres (PMMA) – a semi-permanent filler that has long been used for surgical implants.
The effectiveness, longevity and time taken to see results from the treatment will depend on the product used. Some fillers will last about six months, while others may last up to two years or longer.
What are dermal fillers used for?
Dermal fillers can be used to treat a range of signs of aging including:
- Plumping or filling lips
- Filling shallow facial areas
- Reducing shadows or wrinkles under the eyes
- Filling in recessed scars
- Filling in or softening static wrinkles, particularly around the mouth and cheeks
Side effects and complications
Dermal fillers are generally considered quite safe, especially when injected by healthcare professionals. However, some minor side effects can be experienced. These include:
- Rashes and itching
- Pimple-like breakouts
- Redness, bruising, or swelling
- Asymmetry, lumps or overcorrection of wrinkles or shallows
- Ability to feel the filler substance under the skin
- Vision problems
- Death of skin cells due to loss of blood flow to the area
Before undergoing any cosmetic treatments, it’s important to do your research and speak to your doctor to help you determine which treatments are right for you.