From makeup to skin care, what you decide to put on your face is ultimately up to you (and, don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise). Likewise, the same goes for any type of plastic surgery or facial fillers. No one needs face injections, but, there’s also no harm in doing so if it appeals to you. Whether you’re new to the world of cosmetic enhancements or are an established veteran of your dermatologist’s office, there’s no harm in learning 2021’s biggest dermal filler trends, straight from the experts.
Although the number of people receiving dermal fillers dropped from 3.8 million in 2019 to 3.4 million in 2020, there are still a lot of injections taking place, pandemic or not, and many leading dermatologists and plastic surgeons feel busier than ever despite social distancing limitations. “With many people working from home and video conferencing, I have seen an uptick in patient requests for facial fillers throughout the pandemic,” Dr. Samuel J. Lin, MD, MBA, a Boston plastic surgeon, tells TZR. Additionally, he says dermal fillers are a popular option for patients who want to rejuvenate their face with minimal downtime, which (depending on what type of treatment or effect you’re going for) is a matter of hours or days. “Most patients do not need to take time off from work or other responsibilities after undergoing the procedure,” he says.
Another reason dermatologists and plastic surgeons have seen an increase in filler requests is that masks are still very much a part of daily life, which in turn can hide any redness or swelling from recent injections. “Because a lot of people are wearing masks, they don’t care if they get bruised — they can cover it up,” Dr. Jason Emer, MD, a cosmetic dermatologist in Beverly Hills, tells TZR. “You would think people would do more of the upper face because that’s what’s exposed, but I’m finding people are actually doing more of the lower face, like the lip, jawline, and chin more frequently.” He cites virtual calls (and more people staring at their face day after day) are to blame — or credit — for more patients looking to address sagging, drooping, or lack of volume.
And although hyaluronic acid fillers like Juvaderm or Restylane are the most popular options for areas like the lips, cheeks, and jaw (with 2.6 million treatments in 2020) New York City dermatologist Dr. Dhaval Bhanusali, MD FAAD, is seeing a lot more Radiesse usage recently (just over 201,000 requests last year alone). According to Dr. Lin, Radiesse is a calcium hydroxylapatite gel that is also firm and strong enough for the cheek region. On top of the cheeks, Dr. Bhanusali is seeing dilute Radiesse in the neck and chest areas to soften crepiness. “Also, [I’m] seeing more requests for off-face locations like arms and even around the knees,” he explains. “I think people, in general, are more interested in trying things now, and given the additional downtime, a lot feel OK with trying once and at least knowing if it is something they want to commit to long-term.”
Curious to know what types of dermal filler procedures people are asking for lately? Below, find the six trends that experts are seeing ahead of summer.
Facial Filler Trend: Reduce Under-Eye Puffiness
“The most common complaint we continue to hear from patients is that they have bags under their eyes and that their eyes appear sunken, giving a person a tired appearance,” Dr. Lin explains. Therefore, to reduce the hollowness and improve eye bags, he says fillers are used to add volume to the area under the eye and eliminate shadows.
The plastic surgeon says this sunken eye appearance can be caused by aging, smoking, sun exposure, and lack of sleep. “Typically, softer fillers are used since the skin around the eyes is naturally thinner,” he notes. “These include soft hyaluronic acid fillers, as well as autologous fat.” How long these various HA fillers last depends on your metabolism (as your body will naturally break them down over time) but six months is good rule of thumb. Radiesse is also a longer-lasting option here, which can last roughly 15 months. “Radiesse has an opaque color and can additionally help blend out dark vasculature behind the eye.”
Facial Filler Trend: Heart-Shaped Look
Rather than a square facial structure, Dr. Emer says women are gravitating towards more of a heart-shaped look. “They are doing more things to project the chin, lift the cheeks, inject in the temples so the brow and eyes are open, so it makes the face look slimmer.” Filler-wise, this trend entails a lateral cheek elevation by using the fillers across the cheekbones to lift the area and make it more contoured from the side. “We would bring the chin forward, so [we’ll] lift the neck and slim the face instead of widening it.” He says achieving this effect also includes injecting the temples and the eyebrow to give more of an angled open look to the face. Then, he would plump up the lips a bit. “Women are wanting less of that rubbery and overdone look and more of a softer feel.”
Facial Filler Trend: Smooth & Enhance The Nose
Dr. Peter Lee, M.D., F.A.C.S., CEO and founder of Wave Plastic Surgery, says the use of fillers to enhance and smooth the contour of the nose has exploded over the past few years. He calls this nonsurgical rhinoplasty. “For patients with large dorsal hump and tip that is droopy, utilizing fillers in a strategic location can help smooth out the nose and achieve some lifting of the tip,” he explains. “For patients who have a very small nose, we can accentuate the overall shape of the nose to deliver, more clear definition.”
Facial Filler Trend: Defined Lips
Lip shape trends these days are less about volume and more about shape, according to Dr. Bhanusali. “There is definitely less asking for bigger lips and more asking about defining [the natural shape],” he explains. For this, a traditional hyaluronic acid filler is used. “I think people are happy to accentuate something that may be covered all day, but I think we’ve gone back more to a conservative look rather than over-the-top — something I personally love.”
Dr. Lee agrees that the too-full lip look (which Kylie Jenner is arguably to blame for) is getting replaced with something slightly more subtle. “[The] more recent trend is that of naturalness, balanced, and making a lip more youthful,” he says about the current lip injections trend. As with any filler placement, it’s important to be honest with your injector about the look you’re trying to achieve, and they can advise you on what is feasible, as well as what will complement your anatomy.
Facial Filler Trend: Cheek Injections
“Cheek injections are becoming the new lip injection,” Dr. Lin argues. Fillers in this area are used to increase the volume around and above the cheekbones, which in turn, restores a fuller, more youthful look to the face. “The illusion of a more defined bone structure and contoured face is becoming increasingly desirable.”
Dr. Lin says for cheek injections, two FDA-approved hyaluronic acid fillers — Juvederm Voluma and Restylane-Lyft — are most commonly used in this location. Your injector will advise on what will work the best for you, but generally the softer fillers will allow them to sculpt your cheeks and add natural-looking volume to areas that you want to enhance.
Facial Filler Trend: Angular Jaw
When it comes to the jaw, Dr. Catherine Chang, a board-certified craniofacial and reconstructive surgeon, is noticing more requests to enhance the projection of the chin and the angularity of the jaw. “Restylane Lyft and Voluma are good fillers for this area as they tend to hold their shape better,” she says. Typically, these filler options will last for nine months to a year. But again — fillers are not permanent, and they can range in price from about $300 to several thousand dollars depending on where you live, the amount of filler required for the area, and who is performing your injections.
Like anything else in beauty or aesthetics, it’s a choice to budget accordingly for yearly or biannual injections, but never ever skimp when it comes to someone pricking your face with a needle. Some things are worth splurging for, and dermal fillers definitely fall into that category.
Editor’s Note: This story was updated at 3:14pm EST to reflect that dermal fillers are not permanent.