We’ve been fighting time since time began. Cleopatra took daily milk baths. Women during the Elizabethan era would slather their faces with raw meat to minimize wrinkles. Victorian women used mercury — a highly corrosive substance — to minimize acne and scarring.
Today, a part of the anti-aging industry still looks bizarre. Celebrities have used placentas and leeches to reduce wrinkles. But for those of us who prefer less unorthodox methods, there’s always cosmetic surgery.
Genetics and lifestyle are two huge factors behind the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. But there’s little we can do to minimize our exposure. You can’t fight what you’re born with. Stress is just a natural consequence of today’s fast-paced, goal-oriented living.
To remedy these effects, people resort to various cosmetic procedures – from muscle relaxant injections to dermal fillers.
Understanding Dermal Fillers
Dermal fillers, also known as soft tissue fillers, is the second most popular minimally-invasive cosmetic procedure, according to the 2013 Plastic Surgery Statistics Report of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. In the Asia Pacific region, the market for dermal fillers is expected to grow at a rate of 13% in the next few years.
This surge may be attributed to the fact that these injectables provide results with relatively few risks and require minimal downtime. Patients often resume normal activities after the treatment. Moreover, dermal fillers are versatile and can be also be used to augment lips, brows, and cheeks.
Different Types of Dermal Fillers
Dermal fillers are usually administered using extraoral injection, or injections around our oral cavities. These are applied to areas around the teeth, mouth, eyes, and brows. The number, area, and depth of the injections depend on the type of filler you’re getting, and which effects you want to achieve.
Generally, there are three types of fillers used: temporary, semi-permanent, and permanent. Most healthcare professionals in Singapore prefer temporary and semi-permanent fillers because permanent ones, when improperly administered, are harder to correct.
There are three common kinds of temporary fillers: those made of collagen, hyaluronic acid, or Calcium Hydroxylapatite. The most common fillers in the market are made with hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring compound in the body. Its role is to keep tissue hydrated by regulating moisture and water retention.
Over time, hyaluronic acid levels decrease as the body produces less and less, leading to the formation of fine lines. Hyaluronic acid fillers are injected under the folds and wrinkles to add volume again, resulting in a more plump, natural look.
The most well-known of hyaluronic fillers are Juvederm and Restylane. Both can smooth out the facial creases on the forehead and eyebrow area, plump up the eyebrows and temporal region, smoothen under-eye hollows, enhance the lips to define a cupid’s bow. These fillers can also enhance volume and define contours of the cheeks, chin and jawline, and soften the appearance of scars and other blemishes. The effects of these fillers can last six to twelve months.
Semi-permanent fillers are composed of thicker, biodegradable synthetic substances. Polyalkylimide is one of the most popular types of semi-permanent filler and is made of a biocompatible polymer that collagen grows around over time.
Fillers in this category are usually for treating deeper wrinkles and depressed scars. You may need touch-ups weeks after the initial doses. Semi-permanent fillers last between twelve and eighteen months and can be removed if needed.
Permanent fillers are made of microspheres, which are not absorbed by the body. The most common of these fillers are Polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA), a type of biocompatible and non-biodegradable polymer. Tiny bits of PMMA are coated with collagen that holds them in place. Over time, the collagen degrades, which prompts the production of new collagen.
PMMA microspheres last more than 5 years on average — and are also used for permanent surgical implants. Because of its potency, they are recommended for use on areas where the skin is thick, such as the nasolabial folds. It is not recommended for areas around the eyes or for the lips.
What To Expect During Sessions
Dermal filler injection treatments usually last 10 to 20 minutes per session depending on the area being treated and the amount of filler is injected. The amount of filler will depend on the depth and size of the wrinkle or defect.
As with most cosmetic procedures, clients should expect some side effects such as allergic reaction, bruising, numbness, swelling, pain or discoloration. These are temporary and will usually disappear within 10 days.
You may immediately resume normal activities but must refrain from strenuous movements and avoid prolonged exposure to direct sunlight.
Dermal Fillers vs. Muscle Relaxants
Most people confuse dermal fillers with muscle relaxant injections, another popular cosmetic treatment. Though both involve injections, each works on different areas of the face. The dermal fillers are generally administered on the top half of the face, such as while dermal fillers are for the bottom half. Since the procedures complement each other, patients can opt to get both to maximize anti-aging effects.
Dermal Fillers vs. Muscle Relaxant Injections: Mechanism of Action
A muscle relaxant injection causes facial muscles to contract by blocking nerve signals. The wrinkles and scars are smoothed out, leading to smoother-looking skin. It is usually injected around the forehead area to address vertical frown lines between the eyebrows, horizontal worry lines across the forehead, and crow’s feet lines on the corner of the eyes. It can also be used to balance facial asymmetry.
Dermal fillers, on the other hand, are tiny injections at the subdermal levels under the skin’s surface which fill out the areas of the face, giving it a plump, smooth effect. The treatment fills in creases and folds, and in some cases even alters the contours of one’s face. Fillers are usually injected in the face, neck and hands.
You should consider dermal fillers if you have deep nasolabial lines as well as lines or wrinkles around the eyes and brow. You can also reduce the appearance of scars, depressions, acne blemishes or enhance the contours of your cheeks, jaw, and lips with fillers.
Dermal Fillers: Preparation and Aftercare
Here are some important reminders to remember before, during and after you undergo the dermal filling procedure here in Singapore.
Before the Procedure
• Thoroughly research procedure that will be done on your face, including the benefits and risks.
• Set realistic expectations with your surgeon or aesthetician.
• Ask which filler you’ll be injected with. Make sure your surgeon or clinician utilizes products approved by Singapore’s Health Sciences Authority.
• Tell your surgeon about any pre-existing medical conditions or if you’re on any medication. They will need this information to rule out any products that your body may reject, or may react adversely with medication.
• Remember to stay hydrated before the procedure! But stay away from alcohol, which can increase bruising and swelling.
• Choose a filler based on quality, not price. Beware of establishments in malls that offer dermal fillers for cheap. Remember, in Singapore only licensed professionals can carry out the procedure.
• Avoid taking any aspirin or ibuprofen before the procedure. These non-steroidal inflammatory medications may cause excessive bruising.
• Arrange for someone to pick you up or assist you after the procedure, as you may be in some discomfort afterward.
• Talk out any concerns with your surgeon before the procedure.
After the Procedure
• Drink your water! Hydration is crucial for effective healing.
• Follow all post-treatment instructions given by the doctor. Keep your doctor updated while recovering, and immediately report any excessive pain or discomfort.
• Do not squeeze, massage or pinch the treated areas immediately after the procedure. Allow at least one day before putting any amount of pressure on the treated area. If unevenness or bumps do appear, don’t try to fix it on your own! Schedule an appointment with your doctor to get the proper remedy.
• Avoid smoking, as this can slow down the recovery process.
• Skip the exercise. Don’t do any strenuous activities after the procedure, and keep yourself away from hot temperatures.
• Try to avoid using makeup as this may irritate already tender areas.
Some countries like the UK permit individuals to administer home filler treatments. However, those who want the procedure done in Singapore will have to head to a clinic, as only licensed aestheticians are allowed to work with dermal fillers.
At Aesthetics and Hair Clinic, our board-certified specialist Dr. Tyng Tan can help you go through the pros and cons of each treatment option, be it dermal filler or muscle relaxant injection. Pave the way to smoother, reinvigorated skin.