A Guide to Botox and dermal fillers: Difference between wrinkle-relaxing treatment (Botox©) and Dermal Fillers

We are sure you have heard of Botox© and dermal fillers or lip fillers, but actually, some of you are still confused between botox and fillers especially those who never had it done. With the emergence of reality TV shows such as Love Island where the contestants have had some form of work done, it is to no surprise that dermal fillers and botulinum toxin injections are trending especially among the younger generations. 


But what are they? What do they actually do to your face? Can it be harmful? Will the treatments last forever? Or you have to spend money every few months to get your lips done like Molly-Mae Hague or Megan Barton Hanson. 


Lots of questions will go thru one’s mind before having the treatment. Not only that the procedure can be costly, but it can also be painful, especially if you are needle phobic. Why do people still get the treatments done? What if something went wrong? Can anybody offer the therapy? Beauticians? Hairdressers?


Let’s talk about Botox© first. 


Botox© is actually a brand name of a prevalent toxin, Botulinum toxin A. This toxin is produced by bacterium Clostridium botulinum, purified and diluted to be introduced to help relax wrinkles. The toxins work by blocking signals from nerves to the muscles, for example, the forehead lines. 


A small amount of diluted toxins are injected to your forehead and paralyse the forehead muscles temporarily. This means the muscles are not able to contract, or you are not able to fully lift your brows, leading to relaxation of the forehead wrinkle lines. 


This is not permanent, so it can last up to four to six months. The effects of the toxins wear off gradually, and you will start to gain more forehead movements slowly with time. You will need to have further treatment to continue having reduced or relaxed wrinkles. The wrinkling effect will improve with time since the muscles have been trained to relax.


Early side effects include slight bruising, bleeding or swelling. These effects will usually settle after 24 hours. Infection can be introduced as well but uncommon, exceptionally if the injector practice clean and safe methods. Some people may experience headaches after treatment for 1-2 days, which usually settles. The other less common side effects that can present later are droopy eyelids or heaviness in the forehead. 


The commonly treated areas are the forehead lines, frown lines and crows feet or lines around the eyes.  These areas are the usual 3-area botox treatment areas that injectors will offer. Some people want to look and feel fresh and feel more confident about themselves with these treatments. Depends on what your goals are, these treatments are usually very effective in relaxing the lines but not entirely remove them forever, something that you have to bear in mind. The other downside is that you will want to have more treatments and keep coming back for more. Don’t say I did not warn you! 


Other areas that can be treated with Botox© include Gummy smiles, where your gums are showing when you smile. You might also want to have your jaw muscles relaxed, giving the V-shaped appearance, and softer appearance for ladies. Another popular botox treatment is the neck area, also known as Nefertiti Lift.


Some clients are worried about looking frozen and not able to move their face or make any facial expressions at all. Fret not!  This treatment gives subtle changes over time and the reduction or wearing off of the procedure is slow as well, so you will not notice the changes, nor does your next-door neighbour. All they might say is that you look well and fresh every day. They might end up asking, what’s your secret?


I have had clients thinking that we fill in the lines to reduce it. Also, we have clients asking for botox on the under-eye area, perhaps they might be confused with fillers. So it is crucial to choose the right clinicians who will spend time during the consultation explaining these differences. It is essential that they go through your medical history, check if you are pregnant or breastfeeding and will get you to sign a consent form after discussing risk and side effects with you. Your injector should also give you an aftercare sheet and their contact details if you need to get in touch with any concerns or problems.


Now we can talk about fillers.


Dermal fillers are injectable medical products that helped to plump or add more volume or filling in lines mainly on your face. The leading dermal fillers are made of hyaluronic acid, and these products are not permanent. The most researched dermal fillers, hence, the recommended lines are Juvederm, Teosyal and Belotero. The other dermal fillers can help stimulate collagen production (Sculptra), and there are also permanent fillers such as silicone and fat transfer.


The fillers are injected on the desired area, to replace lost volume and rejuvenate the skin with the hydrating effect. They have a plumping effect and also can be described as scaffolding – temporarily holding and supporting the cheek for example, for semi-permanent facelift effect. Other areas that are popular for dermal fillers treatment include the lips, chin, jawline and smile lines.


Any procedures that involve introducing needles under the skin can be risky and have potential side effects, which are usually rare. Immediate side effects during or just after the procedure include pain, bleeding, bruising and swelling. Vascular occlusion is an infrequent but severe complication where the filler is injected into the bloodstream. This can, unfortunately, cause blockage and damage to the tissue supplied by the vessels, also called tissue necrosis. 


Unfortunately, there is no strict rules and regulation yet with regards to who can offer and inject you with the fillers. The most important thing is to find out the injector’s qualifications and experience, especially in managing severe complications. Beauticians and hairdressers will not be able to administer hyaluronidase, the treatment to reverse vascular occlusion as mentioned above. Yes, they will be able to offer cheaper treatment with cheaper brands, but unfortunately, you get what you paid for.


So in conclusion, although the line can be blurred between Botulinum Toxins and Dermal fillers, they are significantly quite different. Your medical aestheticians will be able to fill you in with more details and give you the right advice with regards to the best treatments to address your concerns.


I hope we have given you an idea of the difference between the two most popular non-surgical aesthetic treatments. Drop a comment below if you have had both treatments and share your experience with us.

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