Get Schooled on the Difference Between Botox® & Dermal Filler

Are you curious about exploring cosmetic injectables, but unsure if you should be seeking Botox® or dermal fillers, or BOTH?  These two products may seem very similar, but in actuality they are two very different things.  Understanding the different capabilities and benefits of each product can help you make more educated decisions about what route may be right for you!

“It’s still quite common for me to walk into a consultation and have a patient request Botox for fuller lips,” says Dr. Garrett Griffin, Facial Plastic Surgeon. “I take the time to explain that although oftentimes used in tandem, these two injectables actually work quite differently to rejuvenate your appearance,” he continues.  “The simplest way to put it is that Botox® relaxes muscles that cause wrinkles and dermal filler replaces, or enhances the volume of your skin and features.”

What exactly IS Botox® Cosmetic and how does it work?

Botox® is a highly purified protein that can be injected into a muscle to make it temporarily relax and soften for up to 4 months (sometimes longer).  This is highly beneficial for anti-aging purposes because when muscles repeatedly contract on our face, they can cause wrinkles over time.

The name Botox® Cosmetic is actually a brand name for the group, or family of products called neurotoxins.  To date, it is the most tested and studied neurotoxin available.  It is not only used for cosmetic purposes, but also in other areas of medicine for such applications as relaxing facial spasms, easing the discomfort of migraine headaches, improving urinary incontinence, and helping surgical scars heal better.

“When Botox® is injected into a muscle it blocks the receptors of that muscle from receiving the message from your brain to contract,” explains Dr. Griffin.  “This reaction both sets in gradually and fades gradually over the course of 3 to 4 months,” he continues.  “Your body is smart, you will eventually produce new muscle receptors to receive your brain’s signal, but repeated treatments can keep wrinkles at bay and even prevent them from forming in the first place!”

Are there side effects to Botox®?

When it comes to Botox (and dermal fillers), your outcome is only as good as the credentials, skills, and experience of your injector.  Only physicians and registered nurses should be injecting Botox®, as it is categorized as a medical procedure.  Side effects are most common when patients seek treatments from unqualified providers who incentivize them with very low costs.  This product is oftentimes diluted and, in some cases, imported from other countries and not approved by our FDA.

The most common side effects are some slight redness after your treatment and small bumps at the injection sites that will dissipate within 1 to 2 hours.  Bruising, especially around the eye area, can be seen as well, although this is rare.  In some cases, ptosis may occur, or dropping/heaviness to the eyelid.  This may be a result of the patient firmly touching the treatment area after their appointment and therefore causing the product to migrate downwards.  This usually resolves within 3 months or less.

How do I know if Botox® is for me?

If your goal is to reduce fine lines and wrinkles, it is worth asking your cosmetic injector about Botox®.  Botox® is highly versatile and can be used on the forehead, eyebrow area, crow’s feet, mouth area, jawline, neckline and even the nose area!  In addition, it can provide subtle lift to your features.  In many cases, multiple areas are treated at once to provide an enhanced result and lift.  Botox® is also commonly used WITH dermal fillers for truly rejuvenating and complimentary results.

You should not seek wrinkle reduction with Botox® if you are pregnant, breast feeding, or suffer from an illness or condition which affects your nervous system.  If you are unsure, a thorough consultation with your cosmetic injector will resolve if you are an appropriate patient for this treatment.

What kind of results can I expect with Botox?

“Botox® is a quick, painless treatment that yields beautiful, natural results for 3 to 4 months,” says Dr. Griffin.  “When I first see a patient, we generally opt to treat conservatively at first, to assess their response to the product,” he continues.  “It is very common for them to return in 3 to 4 months and request other treatment areas in addition to their original concern because they love their results so much!”

How much does Botox® cost?

Botox® is charged per unit of product and pricing will vary from provider to provider.  A common area to receive a Botox® treatment is between your eyebrows to prevent furrowing.  This area is generally 20-24 units of products for example.

“We help our patients save on Botox® by offering our MRewards Membership program and registering them for Allergan’s Brilliant Distinctions rewards program,” shares Dr. Griffin.  “By taking advantage of these two programs, our patients save hundreds every year on their Botox® AND dermal filler treatments.”

Now that we have a better understanding of Botox® and how it can relax and soften wrinkle causing muscular contractions, let’s take a look at how dermal fillers work differently.

What exactly are dermal fillers and how do they work?

“There are many changes to our skin as we age, and they’re not just centered around wrinkles,” says Dr. Griffin.  “Our collagen and elastin production, which gives our skin volume, firmness and structure, begins to decrease,” he explains, “along with our skin’s natural levels of hyaluronic acid, which keep it full and resilient.  The result is skin that begins to sag and hallow and the formation of deeper wrinkles.”

Dermal fillers work by physically replacing this lost volume and restoring fullness, lift and support to the skin.  Most dermal fillers on the market are comprised of hyaluronic acid (HA), something our body naturally creates, but decreases with age.  HA’s are water loving molecules and will draw water in your skin to themselves once injected to generate volume.

Variation in fillers is usually seen in the size of the HA molecule used.  For example, a smaller HA molecular structure will result in a finer, softer filler, whereas a large HA molecular structure will result in a firmer filler that is fantastic for providing lift to the skin.  Your cosmetic injector will recommend different types of fillers depending on your area of concern.

“Our clinics predominately use Allergan’s Juvederm family of fillers,” says Dr. Griffin.  “These include Juvederm®, Volbella®, Vollure® and Voluma®,” he continues.  “Our injectors love the versatility of the products, the results they achieve for our patients, and that they are the safest and most reliable products on the market.”

What happens during a dermal filler treatment?

A typical treatment takes 30 to 45 minutes.  Topical numbing agents, ice, and even numbing ingredients within the filler will ensure that the treatment is comfortable.  Depending on which dermal filler(s) are used, your results can last anywhere from 6 months to two years.

You may notice some tenderness, swelling, and slight redness after your treatment.  This is normal and will subside within one week.  Bruising can also occur after your treatment and you may be advised to omit the use of fish oils, aspirin and other blood thinning medication before your treatment.

Who are dermal fillers for?

“Like Botox®, dermal fillers are very versatile,” states Dr. Griffin.  “My patients range from those in their 20’s seeking filler to make their lips fuller, to patients in their 70’s seeking multiple syringe treatments to restore lost volume and lift the midface,” he adds.  “These products are wonderful for providing subtle, natural looking results that leave you looking younger and refreshed.”

How much do dermal fillers cost?

The cost of dermal fillers is dependent upon which brand, or type of filler you are recommended.  Prices start as low as $450/syringe and extend to $900/syringe.  As with Botox®, you can save on your dermal filler treatment by registering for Allergan’s Brilliant Distinctions Rewards program and inquiring about membership programs with your injector.

As you can see, understanding the difference between Botox® and dermal fillers is imperative when seeking treatments to enhance the appearance of your skin and facial features.  Both forms of treatment are incredibly effective and efficient ways to recapture and maintain a youthful and vibrant appearance!

Do you have questions about Botox® and/or dermal fillers?  Schedule a consultation with Dr. Christopher Tolan, Dr. Garrett Griffin, or Maria Becker, Injection Specialist to learn more.  Call (651) 632-9700 today!