What Are Filler Treatments in Cosmetic Surgery?

Facts about filler treatments

  • As we age, we lose some of the fullness and elasticity in our skin and subcutaneous tissue
  • Hyaluronic acid (e.g. Restylane, Juvéderm, Esthélis) is one of the most popular types of fillers that can be injected into the skin. They are used to restore volume and fullness to the face as well as to fill up wrinkles so that they are smoothed out
  • Hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring substance found in your body, which is broken down and excreted by the body. Therefore, the effect only lasts for approx. 6-12 months
  • The form of hyaluronic acid used in fillers is artificially produced. So there are no residues from animal proteins in the fabrics. The risk of allergy is therefore very small

What are fillers?

Fillers consist of a space-filling gel (hyaluronic acid) which is injected into or under the skin. Fillers are used to treat wrinkles , give fuller lips and shape cheekbones and chin.

Hyaluronic acid is produced, among other things, in the skin and cartilage of animals and humans. In the skin, it fills the void between a network of small collagen and elastin threads. Hyaluronic acid plays an important role in the skin’s ability to bind water and makes the skin tighter and firmer.

Hyaluronic acid is produced from bacteria and is therefore not extracted from animals. Therefore, allergic reactions occur very rarely.

Hyaluronic acid belongs to the non-surgical category of skin fillers or “fillers”. Fillers have a temporary effect, but some work longer than others. Examples of fillers are Restylane, Juvéderm or Esthélis.


The practitioner injects the filler in a series of small injections, and the area is gently massaged during the procedure. In most cases, filler is injected just under the skin with a very thin needle. The massage should spread the substance.

You can expect some swelling and tenderness at the injection site for 2-4 days after the treatment. In addition, the skin may become slightly red. Filler is often combined with Botulinum Toxin to treat wrinkles and furrows on the face.


The results can be seen immediately. Wrinkles are often smoothed out and the skin smoother. The lips may become larger and more prominent. How good the result is and how long the effect lasts depends on

  • Your skin type
  • The structure of your face
  • Your age and lifestyle

Hyaluronic acid is not a permanent product and the effect lasts for 6-12 months. Follow-up treatment is necessary at regular intervals. The duration depends on which areas of the skin hyaluronic acid is used on.

Side effects

There is a very small risk of allergic reactions or bleeding from the treated area. Immediate side effects are redness, local swelling, itching and soreness. Injection site infection is a less common side effect.

Other rarer side effects can be occlusion of blood vessels in the injection area, as a result of injecting filler directly into the blood vessels or pinching them off from the outside due to the filler. This can lead to tissue death and, in rare cases, threaten the sight of the eye.

Unwanted fullness after injection or more serious side effects can be treated with hyaloronidase, which is an enzyme that breaks down hyaluronic acid. With long-term use of degradable filler, scar tissue can form in the treated area, so that the increase in volume does not disappear completely.


Non-surgical cosmetic treatment has had an almost explosive growth in recent years. Hyaluronic acid-based products such as Restylane were the second most popular non-surgical cosmetic procedure in the United States, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS). Approx. 1.7 million treatments were performed in 2014.

In South Africa, the number is not known, but there is no doubt that it is increasing strongly.

Legislation for cosmetic surgery

You must be 18 years old to have cosmetic surgery performed in South Africa;

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