There are few things more frustrating than walking out of the doctor's office with new dermal filler that makes you feel great — only to have to walk back in months later for the exact same treatment. Yes, even though injectables might seem like magic, the spell is sometimes all too temporary. The downside of the non-surgical treatment is that, no matter the brand or material you and your doctor choose, it can only last so long, requiring maintenance to keep the desired results going. But are there ways to minimize the maintenance? How can you make filler last longer?
The longevity of filler depends on many factors, like the type and amount, but, mostly, metabolic rate. Metabolism affects just how long filler lasts in each of our bodies, which is why your friend's might last longer than yours, or vice versa. "You can give 10 people the same recipe of fillers in the exact same location, and one person will metabolize that right away in three months, and the other person will be great and happy after two years," says Lara Devgan, M.D., a board certified plastic surgeon in New York City. "So there’s some variability. It’s not fair, but it is what it is."
That said, it's not all up to your body. Fillers using hyaluronic acid can last from three months to over two years, according to Devgan, and while you can't guarantee just where in the spectrum your fillers fall, there are a few things to consider to increase your time between treatments.
Location, Location, Location
As in real estate, location is key when it comes to getting a long-lasting filler. Because it is impossible to avoid facial movement, it's inevitable that filler will break down over time. But certain areas of the face are less prone to regular and aggressive movement.
For example, can you remember the last time you purposefully moved your tear troughs? How about your mouth? The answer to the first question is likely, "no" (or, "what's a tear trough?," in response to which I direct you here), while the answer to the second question is "yes," so long as you're a generally social person, eat three square meals per day, and, you know, exist. Because we use our mouths more often than any other facial feature, lip fillers tend to only last three to six months, while tear trough filler could last over five years, according to Devgan.
Still, that doesn't mean that lip filler (or filler in any other high-movement area) fades suddenly or drastically. No matter where you get your filler, the dissolving process is gradual. Devgan compares the process to an ice cube that will melt over time — not suddenly and unexpectedly. "Fillers don't go away one-two-three, poof!" she says. "If we say that an ice cube lasts for 10 minutes, it doesn’t mean that it’s a perfect cube for 10 minutes. It means after five minutes, it’s halfway gone, and after 10 minutes, there’s a trace of a cold puddle on your plate." Same goes for filler, breaking down slowly.
Take Off The Pressure
After receiving injectables, you can certainly look, but try not to touch. Applying too much pressure to the areas where you received fillers could compromise the work your doctor has done. Wearing glasses that sit heavily on your nose could impact a nonsurgical rhinoplasty, while deep-cleansing facials and sleeping on your side or stomach threatens to shorten the lifespan of fillers in other areas of the face. "[It's] almost like stirring sugar into a cup of tea," Dr. Devgan says. "If you agitate it and jostle it a lot, you'll have it dissipate quicker."
While this may impact your purchase of that new jade roller (no matter how much it improves your Instagram flat lay), don't be too concerned about everyday movement. Applying makeup or blowing your nose is unlikely to dramatically reverse any injectables. Instead, just use your most recent injectable as a convenient excuse to buy a new lightweight pair of glasses.
Keep Up The Good Work
One of the best ways to see long-lasting effects when it comes to filler? Get more filler. Regular maintenance ensures filler continues to look prominent, with little to no fluctuation in your appearance. "The duration of fillers is also dependent on how fastidious the person is," Devgan says. It's much like getting your hair colored regularly helps you maintain your color. In Devgan's practice, "People will come in very frequently for very tiny amounts of product because they don’t want to see any aberration in the way they look," she says. "But then other people will be a little bit more lax. Like people who let gray hair come in a little bit."
Of course, the cost of regular treatment might bring in a few more of those gray hairs, so, most of all, consult your finances before signing up for more.
Look To The Future
There is some good news, especially for individuals with a metabolic rate that doesn't support long-lasting treatments. According to Devgan, fillers with a greater longevity might be in our future, thanks to current research. "It’s not inconceivable that in our lifetimes we could do a procedure like a nonsurgical rhinoplasty and do it once every five years instead of once every eight to sixteen months," she says.
Researchers are looking to one day create a filler that not only is dissolvable, safe, and natural, but also doesn't require a return maintenance visit every season. "[That's] where the industry is headed," Devgan says. "We want to preserve the attributes of the current fillers that we have ... The disadvantages are that they don’t last forever. So if we can square the circle, then we would be in a very cool place."
The future, however, is still the future, so you should spend the present consulting one key expert when it comes to any upcoming treatments: you. "The thing that’s more important than what we show in a lab or Petri dish or in a clinical trial is what you see and experience in your own face," Devgan says. "Ultimately, the purpose of anything in cosmetic medicine — including injectables or brushing your hair — is to feel confident or feel like the best version of yourself."