Cosmetic Procedures

As we age, our skin loses its youthful fullness. Fillers can replace lost volume in our face and hands. Many fillers offer immediate results and no downtime.

Also Called

  • Anti-aging injectable

  • Dermal filler

  • Skin filler

  • Soft tissue augmentation

  • Soft tissue filler

Signs of Aging Treated
Fillers can reduce signs of aging on the face and hands caused by diminishing collagen, elastin, and hyaluronic acid — components of our skin that give it fullness. With a number of fillers now available, the following signs of aging can be treated:


  • Brow, drooping

  • Cheeks, hollow

  • Chin, receding

  • Creases, deep

  • Eyes, hollow beneath

  • Jawline, beginning to lose firmness

  • Lips, thinning

  • Mouth, downturned

  • Scars, which often become more noticeable with age, if shallow

  • Wrinkles and fine lines, especially around the eyes and mouth

Woman with deep creases on face

After receiving filler made from her own fat

This 52-year-old woman disliked the deep creases in her lower face.

The same woman shown immediately after being treated with a filler made from self-donated fat.

(Photos used with permission of the American Academy of Dermatology National Library of Dermatologic Teaching Slides)


  • Crinkly, thin skin

What Happens if Fillers are an Option?
If you are considering a filler and want to know what happens if you
undergo this procedure, visit Fillers: What to Expect Before,
During, and After

When See the Results from Fillers
A variety of fillers have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to meet the wide range of cosmetic concerns. How long it takes to see the results depends on the filler used.

Fillers that produce immediate — or close to immediate — results include hyaluronic acid gel, self-donated fat, and PMMA (polymethylmethacrylate).

One filler, poly-L-lactic acid, takes longer to produce results because it does not fill the skin; it stimulates the skin to produce collagen.

Effectiveness of Fillers
Fillers can effectively plump lips, fill hollow cheeks, diminish the appearance of scars, elevate deep creases, erase fine lines, and lift the brow or a downturned mouth.

While fillers offer effective treatment for these concerns, proper placement of the filler is essential for desirable results. Dermatologists receive training that covers injection techniques for the various fillers. They also learn when to use which filler and how to combine fillers to achieve the most natural-looking results.

Before receiving a filler, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends that you ask the following questions:

  • Are the results permanent or temporary?

  • What are the potential side effects?

  • Is the filler FDA-approved for this use?

  • How long has the physician used the filler? How many patients has the physician treated?

  • May I see before-and-after photos or speak with patients who have been treated with this filler?

Potential Side Effects
While fillers are considered safe, all medical procedures carry some risk. An allergic reaction, skin discoloration, and lumps under the skin are possible. Before treatment, your dermatologist will explain the potential side effects for the filler to be used.

When non-physicians inject fillers, reports of side effects and undesirable results rise. Lumps, over-filled areas, and ridges are more common. Serious side effects such as an infection also tend to increase.

How Long Results Last
Most fillers are temporary and require repeat treatments to maintain the results. Temporary fillers offer one key advantage. Our skin continues to age, and fillers can be injected as needed to fill the lost volume. The following table shows how long several FDA-approved fillers typically last:


How Long Lasts

Hyaluronic acid gel

4-12 months

Calcium hydroxylapatite

6 months - 1 year

Poly-L-lactic acid

1-3 years

Self-donated fat

1-3 years (often longer when scar treated)



Related Links
10 Questions to Ask Before a Cosmetic Procedure

Cohen JL, Bar A. “Fillers for Facial Rejuvenation” In: Hirsch RJ, Cohen JL, Sadick N. Aesthetic Rejuvenation: A Regional Approach. China, McGraw-Hill Companies; 2009. P. 71-80.

Donofrio LM. “Soft-Tissue Augmentation.” In: Wolff K, Goldsmith LA, Katz SI et al, editors. Fitzpatrick’s Dermatology in General Medicine. 7th edition. United States of America, McGraw Hill Medical; 2008. p. 2380-8.

Hirsch RJ. “Dermal Fillers.” In: Sadick, Moy, Lawrence, et al. Concise Manual of Dermatologic Surgery. China, McGraw-Hill Companies; 2008. p. 37-45.

Matarasso SL, Sadick NS. “Soft tissue Augmentation.” In: Bolognia JL, Jorizzo JL, Rapini RP et al, editors. Dermatology. 2nd edition. Spain, Mosby Elsevier; 2008. p. 2369-79.

All content solely developed by the American Academy of Dermatology

Fillers are not cosmetics. For your health and safety, a board-certified physician such as a dermatologist should inject fillers.





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Page last updated 8/18/10

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