Dermal fillers have become one of the most popular facial cosmetic procedures performed, partially because of the range of different treatment options available for patients. While appearances may be the priority for a patient’s results, the longevity of the filler is also of significant concern.
So which facial filler lasts the longest? Depending on the composition of the filler itself, most fillers can last for 8 to 12 months. However, the longest-lasting facial filler is Sculptra, since it stimulates collagen production in the body for longer, more effective results. Other fillers such as Restylane and Juvederm come at a close second, depending on the patient’s needs.
Sculptra is an injectable skin rejuvenation treatment that uses poly-L lactic acid (PLLA), which can stimulate collagen production. It was approved by the FDA in 2009 for the treatment of wrinkles and other nasolabial folds, with marked success compared to other dermal fillers because it lasts for a long time.
As a collagen stimulator, Sculptra works by increasing the volume in facial folds and wrinkles, slowly conditioning the skin to fill them in overtime. While it has less visible and immediate results compared to other facial fillers and injectables like Botox, the overall efficacy of Sculptra lies in its longevity.
On average, the effects of Sculptra can last anywhere from 2 to 5 years, depending on the area filled and the patient’s own lifestyle. Targeted areas often include:
Aside from filling in facial wrinkles, it can also work well with adding more mass and definition to other body parts, effectively acting as a form of body sculpture. However, it’s not applicable for use in areas with irregular scarring, skin conditions like acne, or other types of skin inflammations and disorders.
Side effects of Sculptra are minimal compared to other dermal fillers, primarily because the active ingredient is biocompatible with the rest of the body. Any side effects patients experience is usually mild and resolve themselves within a day from the initial treatment.
These side effects may include:
Some side effects have also been reported with the injection itself, though these appear to be more with the injection procedure than the treatment itself. For these cases, injectors can choose to use methods like microcannulas for easier delivery of the filler underneath the skin – though they will need to keep in mind that this method requires a fair bit of skill and a reliable source of microcannulas.
The reason why Sculptra can last so long is unlike other dermal fillers that simply apply a material to the folds or wrinkles underneath the surface, Sculptra actually encourages the growth of skin cells. Because collagen is so integral to helping give the skin its volume, products that can give it a boost in its production improves the face and skin significantly.
Other dermal fillers – especially those that may use ingredients such as hyaluronic acid – do not last as long or are not as effective, mainly because of their work by merely changing the way the skin looks. Sculptra’s collagen regrowth potential allows its effects to remain long after the treatments have been done, with maybe additional treatments depending on the patient’s lifestyle.
While it may not be the “superior” dermal filler (that can only be determined on a case-by-case basis), Sculptra far outperforms other dermal fillers with how long its results last. For patients who are willing to wait to get long-term results, dermatologists should always recommend Sculptra as an option.
While not as long-lasting as Sculptra, the following dermal fillers can still last for a considerable length of time:
These dermal fillers fill in lines and wrinkles the same way Sculptra does, but with slightly different methods.
Restylane is a hyaluronic acid-based facial filler that’s designed to add volume to folds, clear out wrinkles, and overall restore skin to its smooth, supple appearance. It’s a relatively fast and quick procedure, and there are fewer limitations for its application on patients.
Because of its main ingredient, Restylane has one of the most versatile product lineups in the facial filler market. The Defyne, Refyne, and Lyft variants can give the patient more volume, more expression, or an equal balance of both depending on their needs.
These Restylane variants can be used on hard-to-treat areas such as tear trough lines, marionette lines, and the nasolabial folds. With the option to use microcannulas for their application, they’re relatively painless for the patient and have mild to no side effects after the procedure.
Juvederm is another hyaluronic acid-based facial filler, but it’s more specialized to handle areas like the lips and smile lines around the nose and mouth. It also comes in multiple forms, with Juvederm Voluma (a product used on the cheeks) lasting for up to two years.
One reason why hyaluronic acid fillers like Juvederm work so well is that they combine the natural regrowth of collagen production with ingredients that can make the skin more supple, fairer, and more elastic. In the right quantities, products with hyaluronic acid can even help manage conditions like eczema.
Like Juvederm and Restylane, Radiesse works by increasing the amount of collagen produced by the skin. It does this by injecting calcium hydroxyapatite into the body, which functions both as a filler material and a catalyst for speeding up collagen production.
As a result, Radiesse treatments can have short and long-term results. As the initial calcium hydroxyapatite gel is inserted under the filler areas, their physical shape provides the volume needed to fill them in. As the gels dissolve, the calcium hydroxyapatite gets absorbed by your bloodstream, which helps rebuild connective tissue and restore lost skin cells.
These three facial fillers can last anywhere from a year to two years, depending on the patient’s lifestyle and the area filled.
One thing that dermatologists may need to explain to their patients is the exact reason why dermal fillers don’t work the same for everyone across the board. The primary reason for this is that each brand uses its own formula and additives to its primary ingredient – so while two fillers may technically be based on hyaluronic acid, their functions and the area of application differ.
Dermatologists should also be careful to set the expectations of their patients regarding their lifestyle and their dermal fillers. While facial fillers are a more permanent solution compared to injectables like Botox, aging cannot be truly stopped. It’s possible that for the effects to stick (even for treatments like Sculptra), repeat sessions are required for the best results.
Facial fillers have an expected period where their results will be the most effective, but dermatologists should be quick to factor in their patient’s own personal lifestyle for an approximate number. More than that, repeat treatments may be needed for the results to last. But with the right kind of treatment, patients can comfortably expect their results to last for a while.
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