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Botox vs. Dermal Fillers: What’s the Difference?

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Young women receiving Botox injection in face from professional at clinic

Cosmetic treatments have come a long way in helping people refresh and revive their natural beauty. With these non-surgical options, you can boost confidence and maintain a youthful look. But with so many advancements and treatments comes a bit of confusion: laser facials, coolsculpting, chemical peels, Botox, fillers, and the list goes on. 

We’ll help clear up two of the most common cosmetic treatments on the list: Botox and dermal fillers. You’ll learn the difference between these two, what they are, how they work, and what they treat. We also bust a few injectable myths near the end.

If you’re interested in injectables, set up a consultation with our team. We’re happy to educate you on each treatment and recommend the most appropriate course of action to reach your aesthetic or anti-aging goals.

Incredible Injectables

Looking and feeling your best is within reach when using injectables. These minimally invasive cosmetic treatments enable you to enhance your natural beauty and prevent signs of aging from creeping in.

Modern injection techniques focus on “facial harmonization,” meaning we treat the face holistically. Aging reveals its signs through wrinkling, sinking, and sagging, so a layered approach with cosmetic treatments, like Botox and dermal fillers, addresses different structures in the face.

But what’s the difference between these two treatments? Though they both result in a more youthful appearance, they are not interchangeable as they function differently.

  • Botox addresses wrinkles, creases, and the effects of gravity by temporarily blocking nerve signals to the muscles that cause wrinkles when they move. Botox is best used as a preventative measure. Once a static wrinkle sets in (one that appears even when the muscle isn’t moving), it may be too late to rectify it with Botox.
  • Dermal fillers correct sinking, hollowing, or volume loss by adding volume to certain areas. Fillers are a corrective treatment best used for adding plumpness and structure to specific areas on the face.

Botox Basics

Let’s get the skinny on what Botox is, how it works, and what we can treat with it. 

What Is Botox?

Botox is a neuromodulator medicine made of botulinum toxin type A, which blocks nerve signals that tell a muscle to move. This interruption stops the muscle from receiving the message, and as a result, it relaxes and doesn’t contract. Learn more about Botox from Dr. Bobby Sreenivasan.

How Does Botox Work?

To understand how Botox works, we need a quick recap of how muscles operate. Muscles work in opposing groups. Take the bicep and tricep groups, for instance. To bend our arm, we use the bicep—and as the biceps contract, the triceps must release. Think about it: both can’t contract at the same time. 

By immobilizing certain muscle groups with Botox, the opposing muscle groups swoop in and take over, effectively “winning” in this game of muscle tug of war. This effect is ideal for facial muscles because we can selectively immobilize muscles that pull down, allowing the opposing muscles to take over, which are the groups that pull against gravity.

Fun fact: Wrinkles always form perpendicularly (at a 90-degree angle) to the muscle action. So, when you see a wrinkle or fold in the skin, you can usually find a muscle underneath that moves at 90 degrees to that wrinkle.

What Does Botox Treat?

We all have habituated and involuntary movements in our faces where creases and wrinkles will form over time. Think of movements like laughing, frowning, raising your eyebrows, pursing your lips, or squinting to concentrate. The repeated folding of skin in the same area will eventually show its labour by forming wrinkles.

By targeting specific muscle groups, Botox can help prevent muscles from contracting and causing wrinkles, but it can also help freeze the muscles that tend downwards, like around the corners of the mouth. Botox is your silent soldier against wrinkles and gravity. 

Specifically, Botox targets the common areas that reveal age, like forehead creases, crow’s feet, eyebrows, frown lines, under eye, top of the nose, upper lip lines, and chin dimples.

After Botox, patients report looking refreshed, less strained, and more open. Say goodbye to RBF!

How Long Do Results Last?

Botox treatments last for about 3–4 months. To maintain the effects of Botox, you need to have continued treatments to keep the muscles from moving (allowing the skin to crease again and form wrinkles). 

Details on Dermal Fillers 

“Dermal” is a scientific way to say “relating to the skin”—so as you might imagine, a dermal filler is an injectable treatment that literally fills the skin. Let’s dive into some more details.

What Are Dermal Fillers?

Most dermal fillers are made of hyaluronic acid, which is naturally found in our bodies. However, free-form hyaluronic acid breaks down very quickly in the body, so dermal fillers are specially manufactured as a chemically bonded gel that’s much more resilient. 

Where Are Dermal Fillers Used?

Dermal fillers are used to fill space, as the name suggests. They target areas that have lost volume, structure, or smoothness due to aging or other reasons like extreme weight loss or sun exposure. 

How Do Dermal Fillers Work?

Dermal fillers come in different viscosities (thicknesses) intended to mimic tissues. When they’re injected, they integrate with the target area to increase plumpness and add structure to areas where it may be lacking for various reasons.

  • Some fillers consist of a soft, fluid form that integrates with skin, increases hydration, and plumps up fine lines. 
  • Medium-thick fillers mimic fat pads in the face, which tend to sink with aging or extreme weight loss. 
  • Thicker fillers add structure to the face in areas where it’s lacking, like a receding chin from birth or weak cheekbones. The thick dermal fillers can also supplement the bone recession that comes with aging.

How Long Do Results Last?

Dermal fillers consist of hyaluronic acid that has been manufactured to be more resilient and able to survive longer in the body. On average, it will last 6–12 months, and sometimes as long as 24 months for certain brands. 

During your consultation, we can discuss the best course of action to meet your anti-aging or aesthetic wishes.

Older women receiving beauty injection in her face from professional

Bonus: Injectable Myths Busted

Myth: Too much Botox gives you that “overdone” look. One of the biggest misconceptions out there is when people see someone who looks “over done,” they say “she had too much botox.” But, aside from making a person look slightly less stern, Botox is virtually undetectable to the untrained eye. It doesn’t add volume or change someone’s face drastically.

Myth: Botox is reversible. Well, no, Botox is not reversible, per se. Once the substance is injected into the muscle, getting rid of it can only happen by waiting for it to wear off, which takes 3–4 months. However, dermal fillers can be dissolved with an injectable enzyme that breaks down the gel.

Myth: Dermal fillers can fix wrinkles. Fillers on their own will not address wrinkles, but a combination of fillers and Botox could. Some clients ask for their wrinkles to be filled because they prefer to avoid Botox, but this isn’t the right solution. Why not? If we put filler in a fold that will repeatedly move throughout the day, the substance will degrade quickly and be ineffective. 

So Which One Should You Choose?

You may have an idea of which areas you’d like to target with injectables, but you’re not sure whether to choose Botox, dermal fillers, or both—that’s where we can help. 

Book a consultation with our highly-trained and knowledgeable team at Sante Medical, and we’ll find the best solution for you to attain a natural-looking, fresh appearance. Feel better. Look better. Live better.

Written by Dr. Bobby Sreenivasan

Dr. Sreenivasan is a graduate of the University of Alberta Medical Program where he completed his residency in 2004. His expertise in cosmetic procedures such as BOTOX, fillers, PRP, skin rejuvenation, and hair restoration surgery along with his keen interest in preventative care medicine with a focus on bioidentical hormone balancing means he has contributed to the self-confidence and vitality of thousands of men and women by providing natural results. Outside the clinic, Dr. Sreenivasan enjoys running, golfing, travelling and spending time with his two sons.
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