Fillers are injectables that plump up wrinkles and smooth the skin. Dermal fillers are popular among people who want to cover up their wrinkles, or laugh lines. They’re usually injected around the eyes, mouth, and nose. It produces results instantly and can last months or years. It also isn’t invasive and is gaining traction among young people.
Why do people get dermal fillers?
Fillers are a way to smooth out skin and give it a younger feel. It enhances facial features like the cheekbones or forehead. Dermal fillers are used by older people losing collagen in their skin, which depletes with age. As a result, the skin loosens, becomes thinner, sags and loses elasticity. Using fillers restores some volume to the skin. Dermal fillers also make the face symmetrical, plump up cheeks and lips, and smooth your wrinkles.
They are also used by people who lose skin elasticity from medications. For instance, HIV medications lead to thinness in the face. Patients can use fillers to restore some volume. However, younger people have started using fillers more often leading to situations where they dissolve them prematurely.
Why are fillers a growing trend for young people
Young people still have a large supply of collagen in their hair, skin, nails, and bones. They don’t have loose skin, wrinkles, or creases. There is no need for fillers for them, yet they are increasingly getting dermal fillers. One of the reasons for this is the rising popularity of Instagram face. This has also been referred to as “Snapchat dysmorphia”.
These apps developed filters to “enhance” a face’s appearance in a selfie where they plump up lips, narrow the face, make it symmetrical, and remove any creases. Young people ask for lip fillers, cheek augmentation, and Tear Trough fillers to remove dark circles under the eyes. If your face doesn’t look like that but a filler shows you how you would look beautiful, it can lead to dysmorphia. Fillers and Botox are the most popular non-invasive cosmetic procedures among young people. Studies show that young people predominantly get their information from social media.
In a bid to get the perfect selfie, more Gen Z and millennials are getting fillers, especially in the cheekbones and lips. The social stigma of plastic surgery has been reduced and normalised thanks to celebrities like the Kardashians. But while they have been open about cosmetic procedures they’ve undergone; they still face a lot of scrutiny. Similarly, young girls are always being told about what’s possibly wrong with their bodies. Beauty standards are mercurial and each fad has a different standard that young people have to try and match, to meet the social media standard. Currently, full lips, high cheekbones, and a symmetrical thin face is the most rewarded beauty standard. To achieve the perfect selfie every time, young people are no longer relying on Photoshop and would rather get dermal fillers.
Types of fillers used
There are three main types of dermal fillers. They are classified based on the materials they’re made with. Some contain synthetic material while others use naturally occurring compounds found in the body. Additionally, some use fat directly from the body. This is known as autologous fat grafting.
This is an acid found in the skin that promotes skin elasticity and keeps it hydrated. As the body ages, it creates less hyaluronic acid. Injecting hyaluronic acid into the skin helps it smooth out. Results can last up to a year.
This uses a compound found in your bones. They help with deeper wrinkles and help the skin look smoother for up to a year.
Poly-L-lactic acid (PLLA)
This is a substance that helps the body to create collagen. This smooths deep face wrinkles and can last up to two years.
This filler contains collagen and small balls that stay under the skin to increase volume and keep the skin firm.
How does it happen?
A dermatologist examines the skin before the procedure. They mark the face with markers when you point out the areas you want changed. Once they take pictures, they are supposed to determine the best type of filler and potential side effects. The dermatologist should also know about allergies, a history of bruising, a history of bleeding, neurological problems, and skin conditions.
The skin is cleaned with an antiseptic then an anaesthetic is applied. Using a thin needle, the practitioner will put in the fillers in specific areas. The procedure can last a few minutes to an hour. Patients can experience minimal swelling. Doctors treat this with ice packs.
Facial fat grafting
Fat from different parts of the body is removed through liposuction. The fat is purified and then injected into the face. It has a recovery time of up to two weeks.
Fillers are meant to be used on a face with age or medication-related changes on the skin. Using fillers on skin that hasn’t changed, such as among women aged between 20 and 39, can distort the natural changes that should happen to the skin. Beforehand, doctors used to inject bovine collagen into the skin but this led to allergic reactions. Since then, artificial and human-based fillers have been used. However, they haven’t been in the market long enough for doctors to fully understand the long-term effects on young people’s skin.
When young people get fillers, they can see how their faces look unnatural and decide to get rid of them. In addition, using fillers at a young age morphs the face’s normal anatomy which increases wrinkles once they deplete. This creates a cycle where patients keep getting fillers to avoid looking older. But some people are forced to go natural again and since the effect can last years, clinics offer the removal of fillers. This can be a problem.
Fillers can lead to bleeding, redness, pain, swelling, scarring, infection, bumps in the skin, numbness, itching, and rashes. In rare cases, fillers can cause severe side effects like blindness. Seek medical attention immediately if you get any eyesight problems and pain on one side of the body. The body can also experience anaphylaxis if you’re allergic to the compounds used. Teardrop fillers can block the lymphatic system and affect immunity.
Fillers are a shortcut method of ensuring smooth skin. Unlike other surgical cosmetic procedures, it has near-instant results. However, it can be highly addictive and patients can keep returning whenever a natural line forms on the face. The lack of self-esteem among young people trying to achieve an Instagram face can’t be treated with fillers. They will need to find healthier ways to deal with their body dysmorphia.
Cons of dissolving fillers
If your body reacts poorly to the fillers or you change your mind about using them, doctors can use hyaluronidase to dissolve fillers. This can correct filler-induced blindness, allergic reactions, swelling, itching, or bleeding. In instances like these, filler removal is necessary.
However, when patients change their minds, they can wait for the fillers to dissolve without intervention. Using hyaluronidase causes the tissue to swell and deflate, making the face look sallow.
Gloria Mari is a culture writer based in Nairobi, Kenya. She writes on art, film, literature, health, and the environment. She has previously written for Kenya Buzz, People Daily, The Elephant, and Kalahari Review.