How to Choose a Facial Filler

A Handy Guide to the Most Popular Types of Dermal Fillers

Facial fillers, also known as dermal fillers, can work all sorts of magic: plump thinning lips, give eyebrows a lift, enhance cheekbones, erase under eye circles, smooth smile lines, and leave you looking more rested and rejuevated—and yes, even, a few years younger. 

Dermal fillers can be injected in less than an hour and require little to no downtime afterward. And side-effects are minor. Once in a while, a person may have an allergic reaction to a dermal filler, but for most people, the worst that will happen is mild bruising, swelling, or redness where the filler was injected—all temporary side effects. 

Temporary is the key word when talking about the only other potential downside of facial fillers: They don't last forever. Sometimes the effect wears away after just a few months, depending on the filler and how it's used. That said, some procedures are good for as long as a year and a half.  

Dermal Fillers: How to Choose Before You Use

There are many dermal filler products on the market. Finding the right one for you will depend on your budget, your doctor’s experience and preference, and your individual skin nuances—how much sun damage you have, for instance, or how elastic or inelastic your skin is. Keep in mind that what works for your friend may not be the best option for you. If you're thinking of going under the needle, here are some key things to know about some of the most-used dermal fillers.

Note: Don't confuse dermal fillers with other injectables like BotoxDysport, or Xeomin, which are wrinkle relaxers. Although like fillers these products are “injectables,” they work in very different ways: wrinkle relaxers temporarily paralyze muscles that cause wrinkles. They do not fill, plump, or enhance an area. They can, however, be used along with fillers.

Juvéderm XC / Juvéderm Ultra XC / Juvéderm Voluma XC

man receiving facial injection
Adam Gault/Science Photo Library/Getty Images

What it can do. Juvéderm Ultra adds volume to facial tissue to smooth out fine lines and wrinkles. Because it can be used close to the skin surface, it's especially effective in areas where the skin is thin, such as "parentheses" around the mouth and nose. Juvéderm Ultra XC, which contains lidocaine, an anesthetic that helps reduce pain with injection, is used to make lips look fuller. So does Voluma XC, which is used to add volume and contour to cheeks. 

How it works. The main ingredient in these two products is hyaluronic acid, a compound that acts like a sponge: It absorbs fluid and as a result, plumps up the area in which it was injected. 

How long it lasts.The effects of Juvéderm Ultra can last from six months to a year; when it's time for a touch-up, less of the product will be necessary (so repeat treatments should be cheaper). Juvéderm Ultra XC can last up to one year; Voluma XC up to two years. One advantage of facial fillers that contain hyaluronic acid is they can be reversed with hyaluronidase. 

Price. One syringe of Juvéderm XC or Ultra will run you about $450 to $700. Voluma is a bit pricier, at $900 to $1,400 (but does last longer).


Restylane Silk / Restylane / Restylane-L

What it can do. Improve moderate to severe facial folds and wrinkles. Restylane Silk is designed especially to enhance the lips, as it is made with smaller particles than the other products.

How it works. This is another line of products that rely on the sponge-like action of hyaluronic acid.

How long it lasts. The company that makes Restylane claims results can last up to 18 months—but that's only with repeat injections every 4.5 to 9 months. Without touch-ups, a single treatment with Restylane or Restylane Silk may last up to 6 months. 

Price. Restylane products cost approximately $600 per syringe.

Perlane / Perlane-L

What it can do. Add volume to flattened areas, enhance lips, and reduce the appearance of fine lines and deep folds.

How it works. The main ingredient in Perlane is hyaluronic acid, so like other products of its type, it absorbs fluid. It is manufactured by the same company that makes Restylane. Perlane is thicker than Restylane, so it's often a better option for deeper or more prominent folds. 

How long it lasts.According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the plumping effects of Perlane last up to six months. 

Price. ​One syringe of Perlane runs between $500 and $900.


What it can do. Sculptra initially was used in patients with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) who had loss of facial fat caused by antiviral medications. Now it's approved for cosmetic use in people who aren't infected with HIV to build up cheeks, fill in hollows or sunken areas of the face, and increase skin thickness to diminish the appearance of folds and lines. It is not injected into lips.

How it works. The active ingredient in Sculptra is Poly-L-lactic acid (PLLA), a synthetic compound that encourages the formation of new collagen. For this reason, it takes several treatments, about four to six weeks apart, for results to become obvious. The number of treatments a person needs will depend on the extent of facial aging.

How long it lasts. In a clinical study, the effects of Sculptra lasted up to two years after the first treatment session was completed (an average of three injections). 

Price. Sculptra comes in a vial as opposed to a syringe. One vial will cost anywhere from $750 to $1,000.


What it can do. Treat moderate to severe facial wrinkles, such as the nasolabial folds. It also can be used to plump up cheeks, but is not effective for lips. It is not used on the lips. 

How it works. Like Sculptra, Radiesse stimulates the formation of new collagen. It also contains calcium-based microspheres that add volume to the injected area.

How long it lasts. Results are clinically proven to last a year or more.

Price. Approximately $600 to $800 per syringe.

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