Though they are considered safe, as with any cosmetic procedure, filling in wrinkles and plumping up cheeks comes with risks. Knowing these risks before undergoing treatment will help with making an educated and informed decision.
Women and men alike are using injectable dermal fillers to minimize laugh lines, frown lines and crow's feet. They are also used for plumping up lips and cheeks. Dermal fillers are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to be used to fill in these areas. All, but one, are temporary and last about six months.
Dermal fillers, like collagen, differ from Botox because the later works by keeping muscles tight to minimize wrinkles, rather than filling them.
These temporary fillers include collagen, which is made of highly purified cow or human collagen; hyaluronic acid gel, a protective lubricating gel that is produced naturally by the body; calcium hydroxylapatite, a mineral and major component of bone; and Poly-L-lactic acid, a biodegradable, biocompatible synthetic material.
Although they are commonly and widely used, dermal fillers do come with side effects. The most common are bruising, redness, swelling, pain and itching. Less common are infections, lumps and bumps, and discoloration or change in pigmentation. While rare, scarring, blurred vision, partial vision loss and blindness could occur if the injection isn't done properly. An allergic reaction is also rare, but possible.
To avoid an allergic reaction, patients who have a history of history of severe allergies and anaphylactic shock, or an allergy to collagen or lidocaine should reconsider dermal fillers. Patients who have a predisposition to form excess scarring or thick scarring, a bleeding disorder or an active inflammatory condition might not be good candidates for this treatment.
The FDA notes that the safety of dermal fillers is unknown for use in pregnant or breastfeeding women and for use in conjunction with Botox or other similar therapies.
While it might be tempting to buy these products online and inject them yourself, have a professional do the procedure. Dermal fillers found online may be fraudulent, tainted or harmful. Your general practitioner should be able to refer you, but if not, you can always contact the American Academy of Dermatology, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons or the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.