How safe are fillers?

cosmetic MD


The information presented here is of a general nature and is not intended to substitute for a face to face consultation with a medical practitioner.

You must first see a medical practitioner for a consultation to determine your suitability for treatment with dermal fillers.

For further information, go to our Contact page to send cosmetic MD an email or call us to organise a consultation.

Please also have a look at cosmetic MD's Instagram page to see more Before and After photos


What are dermal fillers?

Dermal fillers are materials that are injected into the skin to improve the volume of the tissues.

At cosmetic MD, we only use temporary dermal fillers.

Some temporary dermal fillers are composed of a molecule containing naturally occurring molecules which can bind water and so act to hydrate the skin. When we inject these gel-like dermal fillers into the skin, the body will slowly break them down over time using normal metabolic processes. Other fillers that we use are composed of substances that stimulate collagen (bio-stimulators). These will also be cleared from the body over time.

We will discuss what dermal filler is available and may be suitable for your circumstances at the time of the consultation.

As we are prohibited by law from naming the actual products used, the descriptions and explanations here are necessarily non-specific.

What areas can be treated?

As we age, the volume of the tissues in our face gradually reduces. We lose fat, muscle mass and bone, reducing the support underneath the ageing skin (which is itself losing collagen and elasticity). This is what causes the facial contours to soften and sag inwards and downwards, especially in the lower face. Fat in the facial compartments is actually what gives us the full facial contours of youth.

Most of us lose our facial volume in a typical sequence. The first place is from around the eyes, followed by the middle of the upper cheek below the eye and the cheekbones. The areas on the sides of the mouth and nasolabial folds go next followed by the forehead. Then last, but not least, are the sides of the face (including the temples). Therefore our general aim is to replace the lost volume in these areas and so restore the youthful contours.

These days, it’s not only ageing that can change the face. As we become more health conscious, many of us are attempting and succeeding in losing weight. The weight loss that occurs also affects the volume of fat in the face. If you’ve achieved your target weight and love your flatter stomach, smaller thighs and bottom but aren’t happy with your gaunt face, we can address this appearance with dermal fillers.

The most commonly treated areas include:
  • Cheeks
  • Lips
  • Corners of mouth
  • Nasolabial folds
  • Under eyes - “tear troughs”
  • Jawline
  • Chin
  • Nose (shape)
  • Foreheads
  • Temples

Note that dermal fillers can also address fine lines in the skin and volume loss in other areas such as the neck and the back of the hands.

Who are the best candidates for dermal filler injections?

Dermal fillers can be used in both men and women who want to either enhance specific facial features such as their lips, cheeks or chin; or for adults who want to reduce the signs of ageing on their face and restore their lost facial volume of youth.

Generally, anyone over 18 years old can have dermal fillers. In younger patients, the concern is usually to increase the size of certain areas such as the lips and not so much to fend off the volume loss associated with ageing or significant weight loss.

What is the cost of dermal filler injections?

Dermal fillers are priced according to the type and amount used. You pay for what you use. The volume used is based on the amount of volume loss that you want treated. As the most common dermal fillers are pre-packaged in 1 ml syringes, we generally work in volumes of unit mls. At your initial consultation with our physician you will be provided with the exact price of your treatment.

We do run special pricing for packages and from time to time - please check our
Instagram from time to time for details, or add yourself to our mailing list to be kept updated on specials.

Can you combine dermal filler injections with other treatments?

Dermal fillers can be used in combination treatments with anti-wrinkle injections, PRP, PDO threads and sometimes laser treatments.

We are specialists at combination treatments. This will be discussed at your consultation.

What can I expect?

It is a common misconception that dermal filler injections will result in oversized cheeks or “duck lips”. The goal of a treatment is to restore your youthful contours, while still retaining a natural appearance. The volume of filler used depends on the amount of volume restoration required. If a large volume is required, we may elect to spread the treatments into several sessions over a few weeks or months. This ensures a gradual restoration and is more affordable.

During the consultation at cosmetic MD, our physician will go through your medical history, discuss your concerns and expectations, and then advise on the most appropriate treatment. If it is decided that dermal filler injections form part of your treatment program, it will be explained the estimated amount you will need (the cost), any risks to treatment and what to expect following the injection. Digital photography will be performed to record your baseline appearance and movement and the results of treatment.

What happens during the procedure?

The actual injection is performed with fine needles or injection cannulas and generally takes between 10 to 30 minutes, depending on how much volume is required. We aim to minimise the discomfort by using ice, anaesthetic numbing cream or using nerve blocks in the treatment areas. We may massage the area to ensure an even distribution of dermal filler within the skin during the treatment.

Unlike anti-wrinkle injections, you should be able to notice the effect of dermal fillers immediately. There will be some redness in the treatment area which usually fades within a few hours. There will always be some injection-related swelling in the treatment area over and above the added volume of the dermal filler. This swelling will usually resolve by 2-3 days. There may also be some bruising which is usually amenable to make-up camouflage.

After the injection you can usually return to work or home right away depending on the extent of any swelling or bruising. You are advised not to touch or rub the treated area as this can alter the shape of the injected dermal filler.

Subsequent treatments will be needed at approximately 12 month intervals to maintain the volume restoration (assuming you remain at around the same body weight).

Is it safe?

The substances in our dermal filler injections are naturally occurring in the body and have been studied for over 2 decades. They have one of the best safety profiles of all prescription drugs and are considered safe when appropriately injected.

Are there any side effects?

Dermal filler injections are generally well tolerated and have few side effects. There is usually little downtime and it is a safe walk-in, walk-out procedure.

The commonest side effects include:
  • Redness and swelling in the treatment area, which usually subsides within 2 days
  • Bruising, uncommon (but depends on treatment area - for example, lips are more likely to bruise than the cheeks), is related to the needle

Much less common side effects include:
  • Dizziness, nausea (usually related to the act of injection)
  • Lumpiness, depends on area treated, usually amenable to massaging if occurring within the first few weeks of treatment
  • Provoking of cold sores if lips treated, in patients with a history of cold sores
  • Delayed onset lumps or nodules in the treatment site, typically occurs around 3 to 6 months. This is generally an inflammatory process (not usually infective) and can be managed without any significant complications

Very rare side effects Include:
  • Infection
  • Injection of filler into a blood vessel (we will discuss this at your consultation)

If you have a big event coming up, we would generally recommend having dermal fillers at least a week or two beforehand just in case there is any bruising or delayed resolution of swelling.

What about the Covid vaccine and dermal fillers?

As of July 2021, a small number of patients who have previously had dermal fillers have reported swelling in the area of the fillers after a Covid vaccination.

This is usually mild, lasts a few days and is usually treated with a course of antihistamines.

The current recommendation is not to have a dermal filler treatment in a window period 4 weeks before and 4 weeks after a Covid vaccination.

How long does the effect last?

The duration of action depends on the dermal filler used (and the particular treatment area) - typically the volume effect can last between 9 to 18 months (and sometimes longer if a larger volume has been used). There is also a range of longevity in different people as some patients break down the filler much faster (or slower) than others.

You will notice that your treated areas will start losing volume moving and gradually return to their pre-treatment appearance (assuming your body weight does not change too much) over time. Ideally, we would advise retreating before full volume depletion occurs as this is best for maintaining the effect.

More recently, we have come to appreciate that dermal fillers can persist in the facial tissues for many years even though they may not be adding much volume in later years. This persistence is not necessarily dangerous but each review does require consideration of how much more (if any) dermal filler is to be used.

Can I receive (or continue to receive) dermal filler injections during pregnancy?

We do not recommend treatment during pregnancy or while breast-feeding.

What if I don’t like the results?

The major advantage of the most popular dermal fillers is that the effect can be reversed.

The considerations around the reversal will be fully discussed at your consultation.

What is the difference between anti-wrinkle injections and dermal fillers?

Anti-wrinkle injections help to smooth out fine lines associated with ageing in the upper half of the face by relaxing the muscle movement in those areas. Dermal fillers are used to create contours, fill in deep wrinkles and depressions, as well as enhance facial features.

Anti-wrinkle injections and dermal fillers can be combined in the same treatment session, depending on the type of results that you want to achieve. This can be discussed at the time of your consultation.

*Under Australian law, dermal fillers (and the dissolving enzyme) are prescription-only medicines, and therefore we are unable to name the products that we use.

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