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Types of Dermal Fillers: Which is Right For Me?

November 4, 2021 by VitalSkin Dermatology

bearded man getting a dermal filler

Maybe no product has brought more value to the world of cosmetic dermatology than the dermal filler. These minimally invasive products give your cosmetic dermatologist a way to treat a number of concerns, ranging from thin lips to fine lines and wrinkles. As the field of dermal fillers has expanded, however, some patients might find themselves confused about what is out there and exactly what it does. Today’s dermal fillers come in a wide range of types, each of which can bring real transformation to your skin and face.

Calcium hydroxylapatite

A naturally-found substance, calcium hydroxyapatite is most commonly known by its commercial name, Radiesse. It’s well-loved by many dermatologists and patients for the natural effect it can create in the face. It is most commonly used to address moderate or severe creases in the nasolabial fold, frown lines and marionette lines. It can also be used to address the loss of fullness in the cheeks and other areas that occurs as we age. This filler is also produced biosynthetically for use in cosmetic dermatology, meaning that it contains no animal products and is never tested on an animal— a big plus for some individuals.

Hyaluronic acid

Hyaluronic acid is one of the most widely used fillers. You may have seen it listed on the topical creams and serums you use at home, as well. In the context of fillers, hyaluronic acid is used to improve contouring and depressions in the skin, whether due to scarring or wrinkles. Common areas addressed with hyaluronic acid include acne scarring on the cheeks, crow’s feet, frown lines, smoker’s lines and expression lines on the forehead. Common commercial products that are made from hyaluronic acid include Juvederm, Perlane, Restylane and Captique, to name just a few. You might even see at the orthopedists, where it is used to treat arthritis in aching joints!

dermatologist providing lip fillers for a woman dermatologist providing lip fillers for a woman


Known commercially as Aquamid, polyalkylimide is a biocompatible filler that has little reaction in the human body. This means your dermatologist can administer it without an allergy test. It can produce significant results with a very small amount since a layer of collagen forms slowly over about 30 days around the injected material. Aquamid is a popular filler for addressing deeper wrinkles in the face. It is also used often to plump lips and help faces look fuller as we age.

Polylactic acid

Also known as Sculptra, polylactic acid is a synthetic dermal filler that works as a stimulator, triggering the production of collagen in the body. It is non-toxic and biodegradable and was used for decades as a suture material in surgery. Sculptra is commonly used to fill in laughing lines and expression lines and fill in deep nasolabial folds. It is particularly effective in the lower section of the face. Because it is a stimulator, Sculptra requires several treatments before you see results as the body responds and generates more collagen. While it doesn’t deliver immediate results like other fillers, it is considered semi-permanent and most patients will only need an occasional touch up.

PMMA or polymethyl-methacrylate microspheres

PMMA fillers, such as Bellafill, are also semi-permanent fillers. They are used often to treat deeper wrinkles, including deep furrows, and can be used to address pitted scarring in the face. They can serve as good alternatives to collagen replacement or hyaluronic therapy. Like Sculptra, a PMMA filler takes several applications to show results. It also requires specialized injection techniques to ensure the best results.

Treating the face with dermal fillers can create true change in the face, leaving patients looking healthier, fuller and more youthful. To begin exploring what dermal fillers can do for you, get in touch with a dermatologist today.

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