Dermal fillers: part of a burgeoning trend of minor cosmetic procedures
Dermal fillers involve various materials such as collagen and hyaluronic acid that are inserted into the skin via a syringe. Collagen helps structure your skin, while hyaluronic acid helps retain necessary moisture that helps keep the skin feeling fresh and taut. Some material comes from your own fat cells, while in other treatments your doctor may use bovine skin cells or a substance created in a lab that utilizes bone. These fillers are becoming more and more common around the world, everywhere from Key West, Florida, to Santa Marta, Colombia to Berlin, Germany. All around the world, where youth is a currency and looking good is part of a high quality of life, operations such as this are growing increasingly popular. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), plastic surgery is changing rapidly. A 2016 study by the ASPS showed that, in the past two decades, the number of treatments patients have undergone has gone up 115%. And the types of treatments people are choosing are shifting. We’re adjusting different parts of our bodies, whereas in the past we’ve focused on breast and the face. For instance, upper arm lifts are up nearly 5,000% (compared to breast lifts, up 89% and glute lifts, up 252%). Soft tissue fillers are numbering in the millions (2.4 million in 2015, to be precise) and are up 274% since 2000.
The ASPS emphasizes that, as these less invasive treatments become more and more widespread, you should make sure your surgeon has the proper certifications and training, and that he or she is up-to-date with current medical procedures. A given, right?
These numbers are not all that surprising. We’re a culture obsessed with how people look. Even our presidential elections aren’t free from people scrutinizing how old the candidates appear, or how youthful they seem. It’s important in America to appear healthy, happy, and energized.
How many people do you know who have opted to invest in the treatment? How many celebrities have you heard of who are attempting to look younger and younger? Have you tried a dermal filler, or are you thinking of trying one? If not, what is holding you back?
Some people have avoided joining in on this new procedure because they’re concerned about the risks of the dermal fillers procedure. They’ve heard that some can cause sudden and permanent blindness (this happens rarely, but there have been around 100 cases of this in recent years). They’ve also heard that some people may be allergic to fillers. Or they believe that injecting fillers means inserting unnatural toxins into your body. Fair enough. This is all true. As with any procedure, there are risks. To mitigate these risks and to make an informed decision about what you’re putting in your body, you should do your homework before scheduling a treatment. Knowing what to expect is extremely important.
Here’s what you can anticipate in the first 24-72 hours after your treatment:
- some pain in the area (you have, after all, just had someone insert a few needles into your skin)
- bruising (this depends on the person; some may bruise more easily than others)
- possible asymmetry that may or may not vanish after a few days (sometimes the appearance of the natural asymmetry in your lips can cause the swelling to appear uneven for a few days after your procedure)
Some of these effects, bruising especially, can last up to a fortnight after your doctor’s appointment, especially if you’re adding a lot of volume to your skin. Some patients find it useful and reassuring to keep detailed notes of their symptoms over the first few days (and some even take pictures), so that in the future they can refer back to these to see whether or not their symptoms are similar. You can also bring these notes into your doctor next time you’re updating your injections, so that they can see how you were affected by the injections in the past and can make recommendations to help with any discomfort, if possible, in the future.
You also might want to avoid eating spicy foods, or foods that increase inflammation, during the healing time. Some people recommend sucking on ice, while others find this uncomfortable. Others like to do a little meditation and yoga, to relax and to get the blood flowing so that their bodies can heal. Some people find that journaling or reading a favorite book helps them wind down and forget about the pain. Others prefer meeting up with a friend for coffee and talking it out. Find what works best for you.
Here’s what’s not exactly normal:
- excessive pain
- increased swelling after the first 72 hours
- nodules in the skin
- increasing firmness in the affected area
Are your cheeks hurting in a way that seems unnatural? Are you experiencing headaches as a result of your treatment? Is the swelling not going down, but actually getting worse? Are you noticing a hard bubble under the surface of your skin? Nodules can be a sign of infection, or can be a symptom of an immune system reaction to the filler. Is your newly filled in cheek becoming harder, or does it feel like there’s liquid building up under the skin? If something doesn’t feel right, don’t hesitate to give your doctor a call, no matter what time of day it is. A small percentage (1-3 in 100) of patients is allergic to these fillers. If you suspect you have an infection, let your doctor know as soon as possible. In some cases, the doctor will inject something to break up the filler, or will administer a round of antibiotics to combat the infection. It’s better that you advise them of any concerns sooner rather than later. Click here for more information about lip fillers.
As always, make sure you’re fully aware of the risks associate with this medical procedure. Though it’s minimally invasive, a dermal filler injection is not something to be taken lightly.