The History of Dermal Fillers

Dermal Fillers have been around for over 40 years, but have drastically changed over the years. In understanding any type of injection, it is important to look at its history for valuable lessons, in order for progress to be a success. And quite honestly, it’s very interesting to see where we have come in the last 40 years in the world of injectables

Throughout history, humans have experimented with different ways to improve the aesthetics of our faces and help us look younger. We can trace injectable products all the way back to the 1890’s when doctors attempted to fill out facial defects by transplanting fat from the arms into the face. Today, we will be examining the brief history of dermal fillers from their bovine collagen roots, to the advanced fillers that are available today.

Bovine Collagen (Yes, Bovine as in Beef)

Dermal fillers made their debut in the 1970s when various animal collagens had been researched and tested enough to use on humans and therefore collagen injections and implants were introduced. Specifically, bovine collagen, or collagen derived from cows was used as a filler. The specific products were known as Zyderm and Zyplast. The problem with this type of filler was that bovine collagen is foreign to the human body, so a sensitivity test was needed to ensure your body could tolerate it and wasn’t allergic. Bovine collagen also had a lot of swelling associated with it and did not have long-lasting results. What is more shocking than the use of bovine collagen is the fact that it still exists today. Bellafill is a bovine collagen filler approved for the treatment of nasolabial folds and moderate to severe facial acne scars, that you can still get today. The industry knew that a better product was needed.

Enter Hyaluronic Acid

Bovine collagen, as well as some human collagen fillers, were used up until the early 2000’s when the FDA approved the use of hyaluronic acid fillers, which ultimately changed the game for dermal fillers. Hyaluronic Acid is a natural substance that is already found in our bodies. We have previously written and raved about Hyaluronic Acid products. These products last much longer than collagen fillers, which contributed to their instant fame and success. The first Hyaluronic Acid filler introduced to the market was Restylane, made by Galderma. Allergan’s Juvederm quickly followed.

There are many types of dermal fillers available today, including some semi-synthetic options. Calcium hydroxylapatite fillers, such as Radiesse, are a mix of organic and non-organic materials. They tend to have longer lasting results and are much thicker.

A major advance in dermal fillers over the years comes with the introduction of lidocaine mixed in with the filler. Prior to this advancement, none of the dermal fillers had a numbing component and many injectors thought that lidocaine took away from the effectiveness of the product. So patients endured the slight pain associated with the procedure. Now, many dermal fillers have the lidocaine mixed in during manufacturing, and can help reduce the discomfort some patients feel. Another big advance is not necessarily in the makeup of these fillers, but in how they are injected. Microcannulas are an alternative to the traditional needle, and depending on the injector’s preference, can be used to insert the filler. We will discuss more on microcannulas next week.

The dermal filler has come a long way over the years and will only continue to develop. There are so many options available today, each one different than the next. It is important to find an experienced injector that can recommend the right dermal filler for you, and inject it properly to produce desired results.