When to Dissolve Filler, According to Experts

When to Layer Under-Eye Filler & When to Dissolve It, According to Experts

Getty Images

With dermal fillers growing in popularity, questions surrounding when to layer filler and when to dissolve it are also on the rise. Filler is typically made of hyaluronic acid (HA) and is injected to areas like the jaw, cheeks, lips, and under the eyes to help fill wrinkles, enhance shallow contours, and increase volume. As fillers typically dissolve in one to two years, many get fresh filler every six or so months to maintain their preferred look. However, some of those may go into the treatment office wondering if they should get their existing filler dissolved.

If you've asked yourself the same question, worry not. Unlike Botox (and other forms of botulinum toxin nerve blocks) hyaluronic acid fillers can be reversed. So, if you’ve ever found yourself wondering things like “How long does filler stay in the body?,” “When should I dissolve my filler?,” or “What does dissolving filler feel like?” — worry not. To answer these questions, InStyle tapped board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Stafford Broumand to learn everything there is to know about dissolving fillers.

What are dermal fillers?

Filler is a gel-like substance used to treat and sculpt various areas of the face. From plumping the lips, to filling hollow under-eyes, sharpening jaw lines, and filling wrinkles around the mouth and eyes —filler is used for a range of treatments. 

What are the different types of dermal fillers?

As previously mentioned, filler is typically made of hyaluronic acid, but there are a few other options available depending on where you want it injected and your desired results. According to Dr. Broumand, a rule of thumb to keep in mind is: the longevity of filler depends on the type used and where it’s injected — the more mobility the injected area has, the quicker the filler dissolves.

“The watery ones tend to dissolve faster, the stiffer ones stay longer. If you have a stiffer product and you put it somewhere deep on the bone like the jawline, there’s not much movement there [so] it stays longer. The same with the cheek bone,” the doctor shares. “You put it to the mouth — it’s always moving so it tends to dissipate more.”

As far as the different types of fillers, there are the classic hyaluronic acid fillers (such as Restylane and Juvederm), which is the most common filler for wrinkles. HA is found in the body as a natural component of the skin’s connective tissue, and HA fillers typically last anywhere from six to twelve months.

There are harder fillers like Calcium hydroxylapatite (like Radiesse) which are typically used to contour areas like cheeks, jaw line, and deeper wrinkles. They can last anywhere from one to three years. 

There is permanent soft tissue filler (like Bellafill) which cannot dissolve naturally in the body, so these fillers are generally used to smooth deep wrinkles around the mouth (a highly mobile area where filler usually dissolves faster). 

And finally, there are Poly-L-lactic acid fillers (like Sculptra), which use a powder that is put into a solution and injected into the body. This makes collagen, and that concludes in thicker results, so it dissolves slower. Sculptra can stick around in the body for up to two years.

When should you layer dermal filler?

“It’s like filling a gas tank — your tank is empty after a year. Most people say ‘I don’t like driving the car until it’s empty,' so when you pass the gas station and the tank is half empty, fill it up again. When you have filler, it’s the same way — you don’t necessarily say ‘I like this look, I’m going to wait until I’m at empty and then I’m going to fix it up again,'” says Dr. Broumand. Therefore, if filler lasts a year, he suggests you get a refill at the six-month mark to maintain your look. 

When should you dissolve dermal filler?

According to Dr. Broumand, if filler is done right and not overdone, you should only have to dissolve filler if there’s been a mistake. Mistakes can include uneven volume, migrating, or simply not liking the results. “There’s no concrete answer when to dissolve other than if it doesn’t look right,” he says. 

So, what constitutes as “overdoing” it? Layering filler at multiple appointments over a short timeframe. Since most fillers dissolve between six months and two years, getting multiple syringes in, say, a three-month timeframe to build up volume before any of the previous filler has dissolved can result in an overdone look.

When you dissolve fillers, you’ll need to receive injections of hyaluronidase (Hyalase) near the original filler injection site. Hyalase is a synthetic form of the enzymes in the body that degrades hyalyronic acid. When Hyalase is injected, it speeds up the filler dissolving process that otherwise would take place over time.

The dissolving appointment is much like the filler appointment: your injector will consult with you about your goals, apply numbing cream if necessary, and inject the hyaluronidase. Dissolving typically takes effect right away, however, each person and brand of filler is different and it could take up to a few days to reach full results. And just as with filler, side effects to dissolving include bruising and swelling. 

Related Articles