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Understanding the Different Types of Dermal Fillers and Their Uses

Understanding the Different Types of Dermal Fillers and Their Uses

Dermal filler can be a great way to smooth lines and plump up your face, but it comes in many forms, each of which works a little differently. Understanding the types of dermal fillers can help you make a more informed decision about this procedure. Your provider will also help you select the right option. If you’re in California, start by finding a trusted provider at a Berman Skin Institute near you.

How Do Dermal Fillers Work?

Dermal fillers have a gel-like consistency and get injected underneath the skin. They come in varying thicknesses and formulas to achieve different goals, like restoring volume, smoothing lines and wrinkles and adjusting facial contours.

Some dermal fillers get naturally absorbed by the body, while others stay put for years. Thicker materials tend to be best for targeting specific areas, while thinner formulations are good for covering large areas because they spread more easily. Still, every formulation is different, and certain brands are better for specific applications. For example, JUVÉDERM® ULTRA XC is a go-to for smoothing out lines and wrinkles throughout the face.

You may also see autologous fat injections as an alternative to dermal filler. This process, also called facial fat grafting or micro-lipo injections, fills in your face with fat taken from another part of your body, such as your thigh or buttocks. The results can last for two years or more.

Different Types of Dermal Fillers

Some qualities that set different dermal fillers apart include whether the material is natural or synthetic, how long it lasts and the way it creates results. Here are some common types of dermal fillers:

Hyaluronic Acid

You might have heard of hyaluronic acid (HA) before, as it’s a common ingredient in skincare products and a naturally occurring substance in your skin. It keeps your skin looking plump and hydrated.

HA dermal fillers can reduce depressions in the skin, such as lines or scars. They last about six to 18 months, after which the body naturally absorbs the material. These fillers are highly versatile and can be used on:

  • Scars from acne and injuries
  • Crow’s feet
  • Lip shaping
  • Cheek depressions
  • Nasolabial folds, which are deep laugh lines between the nose and mouth
  • Frown lines, which run between the eyebrows
  • Worry lines, which reach across the forehead
  • Marionette lines, which sit at the corners of the mouth
  • Smoker’s lines, which are vertical lines around the mouth

With so many applications comes a diverse selection of products. Some popular brands include:

  • JUVÉDERM®: JUVÉDERM® comes from the same company that makes BOTOX® and comes in several varieties. JUVÉDERM® ULTRA XC is one of our favorites, smoothing lines and folds and filling lips with a natural-looking result that lasts up to one year. JUVÉDERM® VOLBELLA™ XC is also a great choice for lips, while JUVÉDERM® VOLUMA™ XC works well on the cheek and chin area.
  • BELOTERO BALANCE®: The BELOTERO BALANCE® filler works well on moderate-to-severe nasolabial folds and lasts six months or more.
  • Restylane® and Perlane:Restylane® is another good choice for the lip area. This versatile HA filler reduces wrinkles and fine lines, marionette lines, acne scars and skin depressions, and it can plump up your lip size. It’s also a long-lasting HA filler, offering results for up to 18 months.

Calcium Hydroxyapatite

Calcium hydroxyapatite (CaHA) is another naturally occurring substance, but it exists mostly in bones. These fillers suspend tiny calcium particles in a thick gel. They last a long time and are good for plumping up the cheeks and reducing deeper lines and wrinkles like nasolabial folds, frown lines and marionette lines.

Unlike HA fillers, CaHA fillers also encourage collagen production. Collagen is a type of protein in our bodies that makes connective tissue. It plays a major role in making skin strong and resilient, and our bodies make less of it as we get older. Encouraging collagen production can help make up for this loss.

A popular brand of CaHA filler is RADIESSE®, which can fill lips and reduce or eliminate acne scars, skin depressions, wrinkles and marionette lines. It corrects volume loss on the back of the hands, too. RADIESSE® can last up to a year.

Calcium Hydroxyapatite

Poly-L-lactic Acid

Poly-L-lactic acid is a synthetic substance with a unique mechanism. Instead of staying in the skin, it dissolves within a few days and stimulates natural collagen production to fill in the area. This type of filler is best used on deep wrinkles, plumping lips and restoring fullness to the face. It’s often used for laugh lines and nasolabial folds.

Sculptra® Aesthetic is a poly-L-lactic acid filler called the “liquid facelift.” It provides gradual results across three treatments and works well for adding volume all over the face. The results last up to two years.


As another synthetic substance, polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) fillers use microspheres, tiny balls of material that sit underneath the skin. They’re suspended in a collagen gel and do not dissolve over time. A provider might use a PMMA filler on deep wrinkles and scars and for filling lips. You may need multiple injections, and the full effects don’t appear for a few months. PMMA effects may last for up to five years, depending on the injection location.

Dermal Filler FAQ

With so many options, you might have questions about dermal fillers. Below are some common questions and answers.

How Long Do Dermal Fillers Last?

Dermal fillers can last anywhere from six months to several years. Different types and brands affect longevity. Here’s how some of the most popular products stack up:

  • JUVÉDERM® ULTRA XC: Six months to one year
  • BELOTERO® BALANCE: Six months or more
  • Restylane®: Up to 18 months
  • Radiesse: One year or more
  • Sculptra® Aesthetic: Up to two years
  • Fat injections: Two years or more
  • PMMA: Up to five years

Some formulations from these brands perform differently, so always check with your provider.

How Safe Are Dermal Fillers?

The vast majority of people get dermal fillers without any serious side effects. All of the dermal fillers we use are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and administered by highly trained providers.

Some minor side effects you may have after getting dermal fillers include:

  • Bruising
  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Pain
  • Tenderness
  • Itching
  • Rash

Other uncommon side effects can include an infection, open wound or sore and allergic reaction. The injection site could also become inflamed in some situations, and you may see raised bumps in or under the skin that require treatment. If the filler were injected into the blood vessels, it could cause severe side effects, but this event is very uncommon.

Working with a skilled, experienced provider can help mitigate these risks. For most people, dermal filler will be mildly uncomfortable since we use an anesthetic to numb the area. You may have minor bruising and swelling, but your skin should return to normal within a few days. Our team is available by phone 24/7 if you have any questions or concerns after your procedure.

How Much Do Dermal Fillers Cost?

The cost of dermal fillers can vary widely and depends on many factors. We’ll discuss the cost of treatment during your consultation.

Talk to a Provider About Dermal Fillers Today

Talk to a Provider About Dermal Fillers Today

Getting dermal fillers is a highly personalized process, and working with a trusted provider is crucial. Our team has performed many dermal filling procedures — so many that we’ve received a Black Diamond certification from JUVÉDERM®. This classification makes us one of the most experienced facilities in the world with these products.

The Berman Skin Institute has a team of highly skilled providers to help you make the best decision for your needs. Our attentive providers follow a patient-centered care model that puts your experience at the forefront of treatment. Book your appointment today to learn more about your options and start your journey to a fuller face.

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