The Real Pros & Cons Of Injectables, From Women Who've Used Them For 5+ Years
If you're thinking of getting injectables for the first time, chances are you have a few questions. This is your face, after all — you don't want to let a stranger start poking around with a needle before you've had a chance to do your research. The pros and cons of injectables vary depending on what type of procedure you're doing, but experts say one of the biggest advantages to using temporary fillers and muscle-relaxing treatments is that it's just so easy — the whole process usually only takes a few minutes, with no major recovery time needed.
"Most of these are immediate gratification treatments," Dr. Inessa Fishman, a facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon in Atlanta, GA, tells TZR. In general, there are two popular types of injectables: neuromodulators, such as Botox, that paralyze the muscles that cause wrinkles through movement, and fillers, substances that act as plumping agents to fill lines and wrinkles that exist when your facial muscles are at rest. Both types are not only fast, Fishman says, but they can also yield some truly beautiful results if done properly. "The benefits of injectable therapy include a less worried or tired appearance, smoother-looking skin, and improved confidence for most patients."
But there are downsides, too. For one thing, temporary injectables are just that — temporary, meaning they will wear off if you don't schedule regular touch-ups. And while serious physical side effects are rare, they can happen, which is why it's so important to make sure you're visiting a trained, board-certified practitioner who is equipped to handle any problems that might pop up.
Want to know if injectables are worth a shot (pun intended)? TZR asked six women who've used fillers, Botox, and more for at least five years to get honest about the real pros and cons. Here's what they said:
Pro: The Whole Process Is Pretty Fast & Painless
One huge perk to using temporary fillers and other similar injectables is that appointments are fast, the procedures are typically pretty painless, and it only takes a few days to start seeing results. "I've been getting Botox since I was 28," Mary, 34, tells TZR. "What ultimately sold me was that it is very effective and is just not a big deal. The needle is tiny; there's little pain; there's no downtime."
Dr. Gabriel Chiu, board-certified plastic surgeon and owner of Beverly Hills Plastic Surgery Inc., says another advantage to fillers and muscle-relaxing injectables like Botox is that there are generally "little to no side effects," though a tiny bit of puffiness following the procedure is normal. However, "injection does run the risk of bruising and swelling, so set aside a couple days to lay low just in case," Chiu says.
Con: It Can Sometimes Take A Few Tries To Get Your Look Just Right
Robin, 40, tells TZR she's been experimenting with injectables since she was 31. While her experiences have been mostly positive, she says the end results haven't always turned out the way she'd hoped. "As I’ve gotten older, my laugh lines started to bother me, and for me filling those was a big improvement," she says. "The first time I had it done, the injector (a well-respected dermatologist) put a lot of filler in my cheeks saying it would pull back/soften the line, but I hated how I looked. I felt like I looked like a chipmunk."
The good news is, if you do walk out of an appointment with a look you don't love, hyaluronic acid-based fillers are easy to reverse. "The biggest advantage is that HA-based fillers can be dissolved," Dr. Anna Guanche, board-certified dermatologist and celebrity beauty expert at the Bella Skin Institute in Calabasas, tells TZR. "This is a great option for many patients as facial filler trends come and go. People who got the big Kylie Jenner lips back in the day who now want a subtle pillowy pout are able to achieve that look through hyaluronidase injections, which dissolves hyaluronic acid fillers."
Pro: Injectables Can Make Your Skin Care Routine More Effective
Injectables can actually work in tandem with your skin care routine to keep your skin looking healthy, and to prevent premature aging down the road. "I get Botox every three months, currently," Jill, 39, tells TZR. "It is an excellent complement to a good skin care regimen. It smooths your fine lines, so not only do I notice a more youthful appearance, it also helps the products I use go on more evenly, and with good maintenance, my wrinkles stay at bay. I have not had to increase the amount of Botox I get as I get older. I am actually getting less now than I used to."
For even more enhanced results, try combining different treatments, Dr. Steven Pearlman, a facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon in New York City, tells TZR. "Relax the lines with Botox, smooth the skin with skin care products ... and restore a more youthful fullness with fillers," he says.
Con: There Is Usually A Little Bruising
Everyone is going to have a different experience with injectables, and some people tend to bruise more easily that others. "One downside that surprised me with the fillers was the bruising," Dori, 52, tells TZR. Still, she says, that hasn't stopped her from getting regular filler injections over the last eight years. "I do not want to look 10 years younger, I just don't want to look tired and older than I feel," she says. "What ultimately sold me was my doctor suggesting I try just a little to see how I liked it, and I loved how I just looked more like my healthy self!"
If bruising is something you're worried about, doctors say there are steps you can take to keep it to a minimum. "Avoiding the things that can increase your risk of bruising is important," Dr. Chiu says. "The more common things are no exercise the day of treatment, avoid meds and foods that increase risk the week before injections (fish oil, vitamin E, NSAIDs, Chinese herbals), and avoid alcohol the day before and day of injection."
Pro: The Benefits Go Way Beyond Aesthetics
Muscle-relaxing injectables are great if your goal is to prevent wrinkles, but that's not all they can do. Experts say they can also help with migraine relief, reduce excessive sweating, and relax muscle pain, among other things.
Georgina, 35, tells TZR that getting regular Botox injections two times a year has had an added bonus for her — it keeps her from grinding her teeth. "People tend to think that Botox and fillers have only aesthetic benefits, but they would be wrong," she says. "Botox to my jaw muscle not only helps soften the jaw, but it also means I stop grinding my teeth which causes tension headaches. They can last all day from the moment I wake up."
Patients who regularly get hyaluronic acid-based fillers also experience additional benefits, usually in the form of moisture retention. "The biggest surprise is I don't have chapped lips anymore after having lip filler because it is hyaluronic acid-based," Betzy, 34, tells TZR.
The scientific reason for this? "Hyaluronic acid is a very water-loving substance, and can hold up to 1000 times its weight in water," Dr. Fishman says. "While hyaluronic acid injections provide an immediate volume augmentation when injected into the lips, some of their filler's effect shows up with the body's water being attracted to the filler. This tends to provide a more supple and moisturized look to the lips."
Regardless of what type of treatment you’re getting, talk to your doctor about what to expect. They can help you prepare ahead of your appointment, and avoid any unwanted surprises along the way. Injectables really can be easy to manage, but it's always good to know what you're getting yourself into, first.