What Are Injectable Fillers?

Injectable fillers are cosmetic products that are injected into the soft tissue of the face.  They are used to fill in facial wrinkles and to give the face a smoother appearance.  Injectable fillers have become very popular because they can reduce wrinkles and reshape the face without the need for invasive surgery.

Cosmetic fillers are temporary in nature because the body gradually absorbs the filler material over time.  Most injectable fillers will last for 6 months or longer, depending on the type of filler used, the health of the patient’s skin and the skill of the clinician applying the filler. 

How injectable fillers work

There are many different types of injectable fillers available, with various active ingredients designed to achieve different results.  Injectable fillers can be used to:

  • - Fill in wrinkles and creases on the face
  • - Make certain parts of the face look fuller (usually the lips or upper cheeks)
  • - Reshape the face to give it a more attractive or symmetrical appearance
  • - Smoothing the skin and disguising imperfections like scars

There are three types of substances that are commonly used in injectable fillers:

  • - Toxins which disable the underlying muscles in the face to reduce wrinkles
  • - Liquid or gel fillers that are used to add volume to certain parts of the face
  • - Collagen stimulators that work on the underlying structure of the skin.  Collagen is a natural protein found in the body that helps to give the skin strength and elasticity.

The most common types of injectable fillers include:


Perhaps the most well-known injectable filler, Botox is used to reduce the appearance of wrinkles, lines, and creases on the face.  Botox® uses the Botululim toxin to weaken facial muscles and reduce the appearance of wrinkles.  The Botululim toxin is a neurotoxic protein produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum.  When injected into the face, it acts as an acetylcholine release inhibitor and a neuromuscular blocking agent, relaxing muscles.

When the muscles in the face are weakened, the overlying skin flattens, which makes wrinkles less noticeable.  Having relaxed facial muscles can also reduce the number of new wrinkles that are formed from repetitive facial actions like smiling, frowning, and laughing.


Juvéderm products have become quite popular in recent years.  It is used to soften deep folds of skin and to reduce the appearance of wrinkles.  The primary active agent is a substance called hyaluronic acid — a chemical that is naturally found in the skin, muscles, and tendons of mammals.

There is a range of Juvéderm products with different intended uses and ingredients.  The most common use of Juvéderm products is to soften the smiles lines that run from the mouth through to the nose.  Juvéderm is often used to fill holes in the face that have been caused by acne scars or trauma.   It can also be used to increase the volume of the lips or cheeks.  The effects of Juvéderm tend to last between 6 to 9 months.

Other products that use hyaluronic acid as their primary active ingredient include Restylane Lyft and Restylane Silk.


This is another injectable filler that can be used to weaken the facial muscles and reduce the appearance of wrinkles.  Xeomin® uses a bacterium called Clostridium botulinum to block nerve activity and relax muscles.  The bacterium blocks the release of a chemical called acetylcholine, which reduces muscle activity.  This product is an excellent alternative to Botox®.


Sculptra is used to stimulate collagen production in the deeper layers of the skin.  This product usually requires multiple treatments and takes weeks or months to work.  The active ingredient in Sculptra is poly-L-lactic acid (PLLA), a naturally occurring bioplastic that can be derived from corn starch.

This product gives the skin a substantial boost in collagen production that helps to improve the overall appearance and condition of the skin.  The active ingredient is gradually absorbed by the body over time. 

Other popular injectable fillers include:


Similar to Botox®, this product uses an acetylcholine release inhibitor and neuromuscular blocking agent to reduce the appearance of wrinkles.


This is a dermal filler that is used to add more volume to the face.

Are there any side effects from using injectable fillers?

The potential side effects caused by injectable fillers are minor compared to having other forms of cosmetic surgery performed.  Patients may experience some redness, minor pain, itching, and bruising.  On very rare occasions, a patient may experience an allergic reaction or infection.



Botulinum toxin. (2016). Wikipedia. Retrieved 19 August 2016, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Botulinum_toxin

Collection of Dermal Fillers | JUVÉDERM®. (2016). Juvederm.com. Retrieved 19 August 2016, from https://www.juvederm.com/

What is collagen (2016). Draxe.com. Retrieved 19 August 2016, from https://draxe.com/what-is-collagen/