All fillers work to achieve similar goals—imparting substance and shape—however, the mechanism of action and ingredients used to do so differ. The primary ingredient in HA fillers, like Juvéderm and Restylane, is, as the name implies, hyaluronic acid. While the lion’s share of fillers in your dermatologist’s armamentarium are made of HA — a safe sugar found naturally in the human body — a few are made from other materials. Radiesse contains the mineral calcium hydroxyapatite (the stuff of teeth and bones, it’s visible in X-rays and CT scans). Sculptra uses poly-L-lactic acid (PLLA), a biodegradable man-made polymer — the same component in absorbable stitches. Unlike HA fillers, which basically serve as place holders — substitutes for depleted collagen and fat — these others are known as biostimulatory fillers: They give an immediate, short-term plumping due to the simple fact that liquid is being injected into the face but their primary purpose is to spark the growth of your own collagen for longer-lasting fullness and lift. Thanks to the uptick in collagen they yield, biostimulatory fillers can provide a long-lasting result, without the need to repeat the treatment as frequently as with HA fillers.
Brand names include: Radiesse
Calcium hydroxylapatite is found naturally in human bones and is a mineral-like compound. It’s often used to:
- Moderate-to-severe creases such as nasolabial folds, marionette lines and frown lines
- Enhance fullness of the cheeks and other facial contours
- Improve volume in areas of facial wasting such as can occur in HIV-positive people taking certain medications
Calcium hydroxylapatite is biosynthetically produced, which means that no animals or animal products are used. This lowers your risk of an allergic reaction and no skin testing is required. This type of dermal filler is known to produce a very natural result, doesn’t migrate and side effects are rare. This dermal filler was first used in dentistry and reconstructive surgery and has a long safety record.
Brand names include: Sculptra
Polylactic acid is a synthetic dermal filler that is injected into your face, causing your body’s own production of collagen. This type of dermal filler is known as a stimulator. This non-toxic, biodegradable substance has been used for more than 40 years as suture material. Polylactic acid is known to work particularly well in the lower half of your face, and is used to:
- Fill the lines caused by laughing
- Plump thin lips
- Treat deep nasolabial folds
This substance is unlike other dermal fillers because it doesn’t produce immediate results. Instead, it stimulates your own body’s collagen production, so results appear gradually over a period of a few months. You will likely need about three monthly treatments to achieve your desired results. With each treatment, there is re-stimulation of your own collagen. Then it can take four to six weeks to see the full effect. While this type of dermal filler is considered semi-permanent, you may still need occasional touch-ups.