We see ourselves every day in the mirror. We’re busy cleaning our teeth, doing our hair or applying make-up. We become so accustomed to our appearance that most of the time, we don’t give it a second glance. But in a different situation, in a different light, perhaps at the hairdresser or in a clothing store, we see our reflection in a new way, and the surprise isn’t pleasant.
We know we’re ageing, we know it’s inevitable, but the difference between the ‘youthful self’ inside and the ‘ageing self’ on the surface seems too much to tolerate.
If this is your experience, your skin probably needs a helping hand. Like most medical treatments, ‘wrinkle treatments’ have come a long way over the last several years. And unlike the extreme results that magazines like to use to shock you, these treatments don’t need to result in a hideous distortion of the real you.
In fact, the effect of dermal fillers should be so subtle that people simply think you’ve been away on holiday, or had an exceptionally good night’s sleep.
How Dermal Fillers Work
Ageing skin loses the collagen and elastin that keep it supple and able to stretch and retract. It also loses volume, specifically the hyaluronic acid and fat under the skin that gives a person a youthful, ‘cushioned’ appearance. Dermal fillers are injected into the skin to restore its fullness, make it firmer, and help smooth out the wrinkles.
Several different areas of your face are particularly susceptible to the loss of fullness, including your cheeks, under your eyes, around your nose and mouth and along the jawline.
Dermal fillers act not just to replace the moisture that cushions your skin, but they actually assist your body to produce more of its own collagen. It’s rather like putting money in the bank and earning interest on it. Of course, over time, the good effect of the dermal filler gradually diminishes. It’s a good idea to have ‘top-up’ treatment approximately every 18 moths to 2 years months. Because everyone is different, your dermal fillers injecting professional will advise you on the optimal frequency for yourself.
The Horror Stories
As with any physical procedure, there are always plenty of people ready to come forward with their own personal horror story. And, again, as with any physical procedure, there is always an element of risk and it’s important to understand.
The risks are diminished by using bio-synthetically produced non-animal products. Using products which are closer to the natural chemical constituency of your skin makes it far less likely that you’ll experience any allergic reaction.
Serious complications from dermal filler injections are uncommon, but they do exist, as they do with any procedure that treats your body. For any invasive procedure (dermal fillers involve inserting a needle deep into your skin), you should choose a highly qualified practitioner: this is one very important way to minimise your risk.
You will experience some level of discomfort during this process, in spite of careful numbing of the area with anaesthetic creams. However, this should be quite tolerable, and a good injecting practitioner will offer you advice on how to minimise any discomfort after the process. This can include gently applying cold compresses to the area.
Most people experience some temporary swelling, redness and bruising. These will normally last for only a few days. You will be advised not to use aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen prior to treatment. These drugs can increase the likelihood of bruising.
If you experience severe swelling, soreness or redness, or if it lasts more than two weeks, you should consult your practitioner, as this might indicate a complication that requires medical treatment.
It’s possible for cysts, nodules and other varieties of ‘bumps’ to form at the injection site. The dermal filler needs to be injected at exactly the correct depth to minimise the likelihood of this. However, it is possible that a person can develop an inflammatory response to the filler itself.
An expert injecting practitioner will examine and question you before beginning. If you have a history of inflammatory response, your injector may recommend that you try a small test site before injecting your face.
Allergic reactions to dermal fillers have reduced dramatically since the use of bovine collagen dermal fillers has been discontinued. You should choose a practitioner who uses bio-synthetically produced non-animal products to minimise the chance of an allergic reaction.
However, occasionally a very sensitive patient might still experience an allergic reaction. This can usually be treated very successfully with steroid injections to the affected area. If you have any questions about this or suspect you are very sensitive, you should ask your practitioner before the treatment commences.
Talk to your practitioner if you are prone to cold sores, as you might be more at risk of an outbreak after receiving dermal filler injection. Depending on your personal circumstances, you might be advised to begin a course of antiviral treatment before you have the dermal filler injections.
Occasionally Something Serious Happens
There are two serious risks associated with dermal filler injections: infection and tissue necrosis. Both are very uncommon. Infection is usually successfully treated with antibiotics.
Tissue necrosis usually occurs when the filler is accidentally injected into a blood vessel, blocking it and cutting off the oxygen supply from the tissue around it. This is yet another reason why it’s vitally important to choose a highly experienced and expert injecting practitioner.
Achieving the Best ‘Look’
All the risks described above are important to understand, and if you’ve chosen your injecting practitioner carefully, you can be confident that she/he has the skills to minimise the risk and to act quickly to address any problems that do occur.
The other aspect to injecting is to ‘get it right’: injecting the optimal amount of filler to achieve your best look. In this regard, an expert practitioner will usually advise a subtle approach. It’s far better to inject too little than too much. A very subtle approach can be built up over time.
Your role in this is to be patient, and not to demand too dramatic a change from the first session. Beware of a practitioner who pushes you to have a large dose of filler. A practitioner who recommends a subtle approach is protecting you, and working to ensure you will achieve the best long-term result.
For this reason, you should never think of dermal fillers in the same way as you might think of having your hair done, or having spray tan applied for a special occasion. Dermal fillers are a long-term strategy and you need to plan accordingly.
If you’ve read this information carefully, you will understand that dermal fillers are not just a beauty treatment. Dermal fillers are a tonic for your skin, a medical treatment that should only be administered by an injector who is medically qualified and understands the anatomy of your face and skin, and can recognise and treat any complications.
Your skin is your interface with the world, the most valuable garment in your wardrobe. Treat it accordingly and it will reward you handsomely. For more information about dermal fillers and a refreshed skin, please call 07 3391 5710.