Looks matter. That’s what 28-year-old Rhea, working as the marketing head at an MNC, has learned over the years. Though she’s far from skinny, her face was too thin, she thought. Which is why she recently underwent a cosmetic treatment to fill out her cheeks.
“A friend suggested that I go in for dermal fillers, but I was quite nervous about it,” she says. “However, after two counselling sessions with a cosmetic physician, I made the decision and am delighted with the results. My cheeks look fuller and this has boosted my self-confidence.”
Mind the gap
No one likes to look old or feel unattractive, so when our cheeks begin to look hollow, and our lips begin to thin out, we worry. And we try to fix things.
“As we age, our skin starts to lose its elasticity,” explains cosmetic physician, international aesthetician and founder of Blush clinics, Dr Jamuna Pai. “This is because the underlying support system of the skin becomes weak. This support system is made up of collagen, which is responsible for springy skin with firm contours. Dermal fillers are injected just under the surface of the skin and work by holding up the top layers of the skin and providing volume to make the skin look youthful again.”
Botox and dermal fillers are different techniques that act in different ways. Whereas Botox works by relaxing the muscles that crunch the skin and cause wrinkles, dermal fillers fill in the grooves and folds of skin that are caused by loss of collagen, explains Dr Sanjay Parashar, director, Coocona Centre for Aesthetic Transformation, New Delhi. Effectively, they plump out the skin.
“With Botox, your facial expressions look frozen because it paralyses the muscles,” says Dr Ajay Kashyap, head of the plastic surgery department at Fortis hospital. “But dermal fillers give your skin a normal look with all its contours.”
Fill in the blanks
Dermal fillers have been in use for several years and come in many varieties, says Dr Kashyap. “There are collagen-based fillers, hyaluronic acid-based fillers, polylactic-acid based fillers and calcium hydroxylapatite fillers,” he says. “All types of filler materials can help improve the appearance and fullness of facial skin, but there are differences in the way each behaves and in how long they last.”
One reason for the growing popularity of dermal fillers is that the procedures are very quick.
“In fact, they are known as lunchtime treatments because they take up only around fifteen minutes to half an hour of your time,” says Dr Navin Taneja, director, National Skin Centre, Delhi.
Best used for areas such as the side of nose and mouth, chin, under the eyes, between the brows and on the hands, dermal filling procedures usually require just one or two sittings.
“Their effects last for anything between a few months to a year depending upon the area and the filler used. And the cost could range from Rs 10,000 to Rs 50,000,” says Dr Taneja.
You’d imagine that, since dermal fillers are usually used to deal with sagging skin, they are popular with people in their forties and fifties – and they are. But older and younger people are also using them, says Dr Parashar.
“That’s because everybody wants good looks, and frown lines, for instance, can be formed at an early age, and other lines can be caused even by exercising hard,” he explains.
However, he warns, dermal fillers are not suitable if there is lot of hanging skin or if you want to look many years younger than their actual age.
Nothing is perfect
Since nothing in the world is perfect, remember that with any treatment, there are possibilities of side effects. So it’s important to go to a doctor you trust, and go in for in-depth counselling sessions before you decide on a procedure.
“For instance, some fillers are made of animal products such as bovine collagen (derived from cows), others are of silicone (sometimes toxic), and still others are made of body fat (a live and sometimes unpredictable substance),” explains Dr Pai. “With these, there have been reports of certain allergic reactions on the skin. In comparison Hyaluronic acid dermal fillers like Restylane and the recently introduced Juvederm are a better option. Since the body already produces the chemicals naturally, they hardly ever cause an allergic reaction.”
It’s also important to remember that you have your own needs and what may work for a friend may not work for you. In fact, it could even harm you.
“Your individual skin texture, age, extent of sun damage and genetic and metabolic factors do matter, so it’s important to go to a good doctor,” says Dr Kashyap. “If the procedure is not followed correctly, your face can look out of proportion and contour problems like lumps become noticeable.”
And the procedure is not entirely painless. “There may be some swelling or bruising and slight bleeding at the injection sites but patients can usually resume normal activity, eating or talking soon after the procedure,” says Dr Kashyap.
Since the procedure is non-surgical and supposed to provide results that are comparable to those of face lifts, dermal fillers make cosmetic work easy on the body and mind. And the procedures are quick – just 15 to 30 minutes, over one or two sessions. The effects apparently last between six months to a year.
Botox v/s fillers
Whereas Botox works by relaxing the muscles that crunch the skin and cause wrinkles, dermal fillers fill in, and therefore plump up the grooves and folds of skin that are caused by loss of collagen. With Botox, one tends to get a frozen look whereas dermal fillers give your skin a normal look with all its contours.
You need to go to a doctor you trust, and also have a few in-depth counselling sessions before the procedure, because there is a variety of dermal fillers and you’ll need one that works best for you. If the procedure is not done correctly, it can lead to problems like swelling and a face that is out of proportion. There’ll be slight swelling, bruising and bleeding immediately after the procedure, but for a short while.