Aging is one of the most common cosmetic complaints, and it's only increasing. People are living longer and stay in the work force longer than they used to. Everyone wants to feel great about the way they look, but if you're trying to compete in your career, you have even more incentive to look young.
Two of the easiest and most common ways tone down signs of aging are Botox and dermal fillers. Both of these treatments have become household names. We've found, though, that many people don't understand that these are two different procedures.
If you want to look younger, here's what you need to know to decide between Botox vs. fillers.
Botox vs. Fillers: What's the Difference?
Knowing about your cosmetic treatment options can help you identify the best way to treat your wrinkles. Here's a crash course on wrinkle reduction injections:
How Does Botox Work?
Botox is an injectable solution made with botulinum toxin. That word "toxin" scares some patients, but rest assured that it's FDA-approved as safe and effective for wrinkle reduction.
When Botox is injected into a muscle, it blocks the nerve receptors in that muscle. That helps wrinkles because some wrinkles in your skin are actually caused by "wrinkled" muscles.
Repeated facial expressions cause your muscles to gradually stay tensed. This is the primary culprit behind crow's feet and frown lines. When Botox blocks those muscles' nerve receptors, though, they can't contract so they relax and become smooth again.
As the underlying muscles smooth out, the wrinkles in the skin do too. This effect usually lasts 3-6 months until your body metabolizes the Botox and your results fade.
How Do Dermal Fillers Work?
Dermal fillers also reduce wrinkles but in a different way. Your body naturally produces less collagen with age. Collagen is the protein that makes your skin firm and lifted. As your body produces less collagen, it makes your skin become thinner and less firm. As a result, the skin is more susceptible to form creases and lines from repeated facial expressions.
Dermal fillers fix this problem by literally "filling in" the wrinkles. The gel-like filler is injected into the skin to restore the lost volume and produce a smoother, younger look.
While all dermal fillers have this same goal, there are different brands that use different types of material. The most common dermal fillers are made with hyaluronic acid, which occurs naturally in your body.
Some brands of fillers are made with other materials, like calcium hydroxylapatite or poly-L-lactic acid. These fillers also help your body produce more collagen, which restores more natural volume.
Because there is such a wide range of fillers, the results vary as well. They can last anywhere from six months to 18 months depending on the type of filler.
What Does Botox Treat?
Because Botox and dermal fillers work in different ways, they are each better for different types of wrinkles. When it comes to wrinkle reduction, Botox injections can treat:
- Crow's feet (lines in the outside corners of the eyes)
- Horizontal wrinkles across the forehead
- Frown lines (the vertical lines between the eyebrows, often called "number 11's")
- The bunny line (the horizontal line that develops across the top of the nose)
- Vertical lines above the upper lip
- Vertical lines throughout the neck
Botox also treats some other aspects of your facial appearance. It can be used to turn up the corners of your mouth, giving you a more pleasant resting face. If you have chin dimples you dislike, Botox can help with this as well.
Outside of anti-aging, Botox has a few more unique purposes as well. For people who want to reduce underarm sweat, we can inject Botox into precise areas in the underarms. In the same way that it blocks nerve signals to keep muscles from contracting, Botox blocks the nerve signals that stimulate your sweat glands.
Another increasingly common use for Botox is thinning the jawline in specific cases. People who grind their teeth often tend to develop a wide jawline from the muscle stimulation. When Botox is injected into these muscles, it relaxes them and gives the jawline a slimmer look.
What Do Dermal Fillers Treat?
Because they work in a different way, dermal fillers also treat different wrinkles and concerns than Botox does. The wrinkles that are best treated with fillers include:
- Particularly deep crow's feet (these are often treated with a combination of Botox and fillers)
- Nasolabial folds (the wrinkles that run from the bottom corners of the nose to the corners of the mouth, often called "parentheses" or "smile lines")
- Marionette lines (vertical lines that extend down from the corners of the mouth)
- Wrinkles throughout the jawline and chin
- Horizontal bands across the neck
Another common side effect of aging is that you lose volume from certain areas of your face. This can create hollows at various points in your face. Because they add volume, dermal fillers are also used to restore a more youthful shape to these hollows. The most common areas include the cheeks, temples, and tear troughs under the eyes.
One of the most popular uses for dermal fillers is to enhance the lips. If they're injected well, fillers can plump the top and/or bottom lips, shape the "cupid's bow" of the upper lip, and help turn up the corners of the mouth.
Another rising use for dermal fillers is non-surgical rhinoplasty. This treatment uses fillers to adjust the shape and size of the nose for patients with certain concerns about their nose's appearance.
How Do I Know if I Need Botox or Fillers?
Botox and dermal fillers are the most popular cosmetic treatments in the country, but they're also widely misunderstood. Learning about your options can help you know that to expect and have an informed discussion with your provider. Knowing the differences between Botox vs. fillers is no exception.
Every patient is different, so the best way to know which treatment is right for you is to see an experienced professional. If you're ready to learn more and look younger, schedule an appointment for facial rejuvenation injections