Dermal fillers such as Juvederm®, Restylane® and Radiesse®, which are used to soften or ablate facial lines, creases and folds as well as to add needed volume to select areas of the face, are among the most popular and common plastic surgery procedures being done. The results can be quite excellent and rewarding, particularly when performed by an experienced practitioner such as a plastic surgeon.
Though they are not intended to replace skin tightening procedures such as a facelift, blepharoplasty or a forehead lift, dermal fillers can provide an affordable option for improvement in one’s appearance. Given the economic disaster that our country has endured over the last many years, this lower cost alternative is even more important.
An appropriate question to consider is: “Are dermal fillers safe?”
Fortunately, there is a substantial amount of data and an extensive history of their usage. An article recently published in JAMA – Facial Plastic Surgery clearly delineated the risks and their rate of occurrences. This retrospective study evaluated the combined results of two physician’s practices over a five year period that involved a total of 2089 dermal filler injections. Of this total, 1047 were of hyaluronic acids (Juvederm® and Restylane®) and 231 were calcium hydroxylapatite (Radiesse®).
What were the findings?
Over the 5 year period, there were only 14 complications of which 7 were nodules (firm lumps) or inflammation and 4 were infections. When categorized by injection material, the complication rate associated with Juvederm® and Restylane® was a microscopic 0.2% while the Radiesse® was at 2.6%. There were no disastrous issues. These numbers would be adversely affected by less-skilled, poorly trained injectors.
So, when compared with facelifts and other invasive plastic surgery procedures of the face, the complication rates associated with the dermal fillers are very low AND there is essentially no down time. Of course, Juvederm®, Restylane® and Radiesse® are not intended to be replacements for facial rejuvenative surgery. Instead, they can serve either as adjuncts to these surgical procedures or as more affordable, less invasive choices for those who want to look better but who don’t want or need or aren’t in the financial position to pursue the surgery options.
Steven H. Turkeltaub, M.D. P.C.
Scottsdale and Phoenix, Arizona