Dermal fillers can do wonders to reduce or virtually eliminate facial lines and wrinkles, add volume to lips and contours, and help smooth the appearance of acne scars. We love these products, and not only for the results they produce. Dermal filler injections are fast, safe, not painful, require no downtime, and can be precisely custom-tailored to our own skin and aesthetic goals. But, alas, they are temporary.
The need for repeated treatments, though not frequent, can feel inconvenient. And the cost can add up. Maybe you should get permanent facial fillers instead.
Or maybe not.
Difference between temporary and permanent facial fillers
The ingredients in commonly popular dermal fillers – mainly collagen and hyaluronic acid -- are biodegradable. Over time, the material is naturally absorbed by the body. So, to maintain your smoother, more youthful look, you must get periodic refresher treatments. The timeframe for that depends on the specific filler and where it is placed, but it’s usually a few months to a year.
There are products that are considered “semi-permanent” because they last longer – a few years -- but, at some point, they also need to be renewed. Although they work in somewhat different ways, these fillers last longer because they are thicker and include ingredients that are synthetic though also biodegradable.
“Permanent” fillers are just that. The material is composed of collagen and tiny microspheres of polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA). The PMMA is not biodegradable, so the filler remains in place. Because they are thicker and firmer, semi- and permanent fillers are used primarily to treat deep wrinkles such as nasolabial folds and some types of acne scars. Incremental injections are required to achieve the desired volume.
Fat transfer is an entirely different type of permanent filler. In this procedure, the surgeon uses liposuction to harvest live fat cells from your body (usually the buttocks or abdomen), then injects them into the target areas of your face -- to re-plump cheeks, for example. This is a much more intense process than simple filler injections. It brings greater risks, not the least of which is that many transferred fat cells do not survive, making achievable results less predictable. However, fat cells that do live will remain in place forever.
Choose the filler that gives you choices
Here at Raval Facial Aesthetics and Rocky Mountain Laser Aesthetics, our own Dr. Jeffrey Raval, MD, MA, FACS, prefers not to use semi-permanent and permanent fillers. Why? Because they are permanent. Long-term results might sound good at first, but Dr. Raval believes the negatives outweigh convenience:
- Permanent fillers require multiple injections, and it can take a few months to see final results. Temporary fillers require just one injection and produce immediate results.
- Thicker filler material is not as versatile because it is not as malleable. It is difficult or impossible to control with precision and finesse, so it’s not appropriate for treating finer lines and wrinkles or minor-to-moderate issues. It is also more likely to clump up, causing visible bulging.
- You can change your mind with a temporary filler. Don’t like the new look? Want a little more or a little less next time? The choice is always yours. Once you choose permanent filler, it’s yours whether you like the result or not. The only way to remove the material is with surgery.
- Appearance trends change, just like fashion trends. Ultra-plump lips were popular a few years ago, now most people want a more natural look. Youthful, to be sure, but not overdone. Temporary fillers allow you to make adjustments in your appearance as the times (or your personal preferences) change.
- We all get older, and our facial structure, muscles, and skin change with age. Permanent filler that looks just right now can look oddly out of place years later. The material can also shift as the underlying tissues change.
If you are considering permanent fillers, bear in mind that the procedure requires exceptional skill because the products are more difficult to work with. Only an experienced doctor should perform these injections, to ensure safety and optimal results.
Life changes! We believe temporary fillers are best. They are safe, effective, and highly adaptable. And they work! Different dermal filler are formulated to address different types of issues, so if you want to know more about which one would best for you, why not schedule a personal consultation.