Find out what type of filler to get, how much the treatment costs, and more.

By Erin Lukas and Marianne Mychaskiw
Updated Mar 30, 2020 @ 1:30 pm
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Credit: Getty Images

Facial fillers are no longer a mystery. Thanks to Instagram, celebrities like Kylie Jenner, plastic surgeon offices, and friends in your social circle are more open about getting the treatment that smooths out fine lines and wrinkles, and adds volume to parts of the face such as the cheeks and lips.

Whether or not you're into the idea of getting facial fillers, it's hard to not be at least intrigued about what goes into the treatment after seeing the impressive results on your feed.

To clear up any misconceptions, we spoke to cosmetic surgeon Victoria Karlisnky-Bellini, M.D, F.C.A.S. at New York City's New Look New Life surgical arts center as well as Melissa Doft, M.D. and founder of New York City's Doft Plastic Surgery for a crash course on all things filler.

"I think an important message to carry through is that people shouldn't be scared of fillers if [they] feel that the treatment is right for [them]," Dr. Karlisnky-Bellini tells InStyle. "Be realistic with your expectations, and don't go overboard. When you have that idea in your mind, then you won't go wrong."

Keep reading to get answers on every question you have about facial fillers, whether you're seriously considering it or are just the slightest bit curious over what exactly happens during the treatment.

What Is Facial Filler?

Filler is a compound, usually comprised of hyaluronic acid [which also occurs naturally in the body], and does exactly what the name suggests — it fills in deep wrinkles and restores volume to areas where it is lost. "As we get older, most of us will start to lose bone volume, fat, muscle tone, and skin elasticity goes away. As a result, your face sort of ends up shrinking," Dr. Karlinsky-Bellini explains. "Filler has become a great answer to replete volume where it's needed."

"For areas that are hollowing, flattening, or where fat is shifting, fillers can be really great instead of Botox, which works on wrinkles or lines created by muscles," explains Dr. Doft.

What's the Difference Between Facial Fillers and Botox?

To be frank, the only similarities between filler and Botox are that they are both delivered in a syringe. Each compound does completely different things. "Botox helps to eliminate wrinkles that come from muscular contractions by keeping those muscles from moving," says Dr. Karlinsky-Bellini.

Not all wrinkles and fine lines are created by muscle movement. "For areas that are hollowing, flattening, or where fat is moving, fillers can be really effective instead of using Botox," explains Dr. Doft.

Where Is Filler Used on Your Face?

Dr. Doft compares choosing where to inject filler to how light falls on the face. "Where can I inject to add more volume, or where light is hitting the face so the shadows don’t look quite as dark?" she says.

Some of the most common areas to inject filler include the nasolabial folds around the mouth (also known as laugh lines), in the lips, in the cheeks, and in the temples. "We sometimes have to fill the temples when a client has lost a lot of weight, and their head takes on a weird shape," adds Dr. Karlinsky-Bellini. "There are multiple areas they can be used to improve the look of the face, because a fuller appearance always looks more youthful and rejuvenated."

Earlobe filler is also becoming more popular. This props up the ears and can plump up earlobes that are drooping from piercings and age.

What Are the Different Types of Facial Fillers?

Juvéderm, Restylane, Radiesse, Sculptra, and Revanesse Versa — although each filler has a different name, they all accomplish the same thing. "Sometimes it all boils down to the physician's preference and what they determine would be best to treat the issue at hand, but also, the preference of the patient in the case that they tend to favor one over the rest," explains Dr. Karlinsky-Bellini.

Dr. Doft says it also depends on the area that is being injected. Within each brand, there's different particle sizes of hyaluronic acid available. Smaller particle sizes are great for doing areas like the lips, where the injections aren't as deep. For areas like the cheeks, a larger particle size is often used since this area calls for a deeper injection, plus the results tend to last longer.

Who Can Get Facial Fillers?

If you have wrinkles, lines, or loss of volume that you're unhappy with, you're probably a good candidate for facial filler. Dr. Doft says the risks are pretty minimal, but you should avoid the treatment if you have an active infection at the time of injection, or you're pregnant or breastfeeding.

Dr. Karlinsky-bellini also urges her patients to be realistic with their expectations, and not to go overboard. "I start out very, very slowly, especially if someone hasn't had filler before. I limit their treatment to one syringe at a time, unless they're asking for something specific," she says. "I typically have them do a little, let it settle, and if they want to come back and do something else, we'll discuss that. It's never a problem to add more, but you never want to be in a position where you need to start diluting what you've already put in."

What Is the Downtime?

Generally speaking, there's no downtime. You might experience some swelling or bruising depending on where you have the filler injected, but it only lasts a few days to a week. Immediately following the treatment, you can continue to use your regular skincare routine, including retinol products and sunscreen.

Some doctors may suggest you don't do any heavy exercising the same day you get injections.

How Long Do Facial Fillers last?

Unlike Botox, you'll see immediate results. Depending on the area you inject and the type of filler you get, you can expect your filler to last 6 months at minimum, and a year at most. "Parts of the face that are moving more frequently, like the lips or the cheeks, is going to go away a bit faster," explains Dr. Doft. "Areas of the face like the earlobes and bridge of the nose (part of a liquid rhinoplasty) last longer. The results can stay for a year or even a year-and-a-half."

VIDEO: Beauty Now: Earlobe Fillers

What Happens If I Don't Like How the Facial Filler Looks?

Good news: If you aren't happy with your results, it is possible to get rid of the filler. "The great thing about filler is that it can be dissolved with an enzyme called hyaluronidases," says Dr. Doft. "This is a great option if you think too much was put in or it was injected unevenly."

You can get the filler dissolved immediately, but Dr. Doft always recommends waiting for two weeks because it takes time for the swelling to go down. "You can dissolve it immediately but I try to recommend to patients to leave it for two weeks because it takes time for the swelling from the injection to go down," she says.

The one downside to hyaluronidases? "You can sometimes over-dissolve it because you have hyaluronic acid in your body to begin with," Dr. Doft explains.

How Do You Find the Best Practitioner?

Dr. Karlinsky-Bellini advises doing your research on doctors in your area, and once you find a few potential options, read as many reviews as you can to get an idea of what your experience could be like. "You definitely want to make sure they're in the cosmetic surgery or cosmetic dermatology world — someone in the correct field," she says. "If you read multiple accounts, you'll be able to determine who is reputable and who isn't." Seek out someone who is board-certified, and it also goes without saying, but we wouldn't recommend seeking out any Groupon treatments. If something seems too good to be true, then it probably is.

How Much Do Facial Fillers Cost?

How much you pay for injections depends on where you live and the medical profession who's performing the treatment. Dr. Doft says offices typically charge per vial of filler, which typically costs between $500 to $1000.

"If you’re just doing one area of the face, you might only need one vial," she says. "Most people are between one to two vials of filler. As you get older, you maybe go up to three."