Microneedling vs. Fillers

Microneedling and fillers are both popular cosmetic procedures aimed at improving the appearance of the skin, but it’s important to understand that they achieve their results through different mechanisms and address different concerns. Below is a comparison of each of their attributes:

Microneedling

  • Mechanism: Microneedling uses a device equipped with fine needles to create controlled micro-injuries in the skin’s surface which triggers the production of collagen and elastin to firm the skin. More importantly, it resets cellular functioning to repair damaged skin cells and normalize pigment and oil production resulting in skin that looks and feels healthy and supple.

  • Concerns Addressed: Fine lines, wrinkles, thin crepey skin, scars, uneven skin texture, hyperpigmentation, sun damage such as age spots, enlarged pores, and loss of elasticity. It can be performed on the face (including around the eyes and on the lips), neck, décolletage, and other areas of the body such as the back of the hands.

  • Results: Microneedling results in smoother, firmer, and more radiant skin. While it’s likely you’ll already see visible improvements after the first treatment, in order to fully address the kinds of issues typically presented by mature skin characterized by sagging, uneven skin tone, and lacking in elasticity usually require a series of sessions spaced several weeks apart and adherence to a homecare regimen.

  • Discomfort level: minimal to none with application of topical anesthetic

  • Downtime: minimal to none depending on client’s preference (the procedure is customized to how much down time the client can have). At most the skin looks a little windburned immediately after treatment but this goes away in about a day.

  • Risks: none as long as skin is intact and the client is in general good health with no issues with healing

Healed with No Bruising

Fillers

  • Mechanism: Dermal fillers are injectable substances, such as hyaluronic acid, collagen, or calcium hydroxylapatite, that are injected beneath the skin’s surface to add volume, fill in wrinkles, and restore facial contours.

  • Concerns Addressed: Fillers are primarily used to address volume loss, wrinkles, and folds in the face. Common treatment areas include the cheeks, lips, nasolabial folds (smile lines), marionette lines, and under-eye hollows.

  • Results: Fillers provide immediate results, with noticeable volume enhancement and wrinkle reduction visible immediately after treatment. Depending on the type of filler used and the area treated, results can last anywhere from several months to about a year, after which additional injections are needed to maintain the desired outcome.

  • Discomfort level: depends on an individual’s tolerance, but the procedure does require a hypodermic needle of a certain gauge to deposit a gel-like substance underneath the skin in all the areas to be treated.

  • Downtime: Bruising, bleeding from the injection site, redness, swelling

  • Risks: While fillers are generally considered safe when administered by a trained and qualified healthcare professional, like any medical procedure, they do carry some risks and potential side effects. Some of the potential risks associated with fillers include:

  • Bruising and Swelling: Bruising and swelling at the injection site are common side effects of filler injections. These effects are usually temporary and typically resolve within a few days to a week but can be more pronounced in some individuals.

  • Redness and Tenderness: The injection site may also experience redness, tenderness, or sensitivity following the procedure. These symptoms typically subside within a few days but can persist in some cases.

  • Infection: While rare, there is a risk of infection at the injection site. It’s essential for healthcare providers to follow proper sterilization and injection techniques to minimize this risk. Signs of infection include increased redness, swelling, pain, and warmth at the injection site, as well as fever and chills.

  • Allergic Reactions: Allergic reactions to filler substances are uncommon but can occur. Symptoms may include itching, hives, rash, swelling, and difficulty breathing. Individuals with a history of allergies should inform their healthcare provider before undergoing filler treatment.

  • Lumpiness or Irregularities: In some cases, fillers may cause lumpiness, unevenness, or irregular contours at the injection site. This can occur if the filler is not injected evenly or if it migrates from the intended area. Massaging the treated area can sometimes help smooth out these irregularities.

  • Necrosis: Rarely, filler injections can inadvertently block blood flow to surrounding tissues, leading to tissue death (necrosis). Signs of necrosis include persistent pain, skin discoloration, and the formation of ulcers or blisters. Prompt medical attention is necessary if these symptoms occur.

  • Migration and Displacement: Fillers can sometimes migrate from the injection site to other areas of the face, causing asymmetry or undesirable changes in facial appearance. This risk can be minimized by choosing an experienced injector who understands facial anatomy and proper injection techniques.

  • Granulomas: Granulomas are small, firm nodules that can develop under the skin in response to filler injections. These nodules are typically non-infectious and may resolve on their own over time or may require treatment with corticosteroid injections or other interventions.

Both microneedling and fillers are effective at restoring the youthful appearance of the skin, but they target different issues and work through different mechanisms. In a nutshell, microneedling simultaneously addresses a wide range of concerns that can result in the comprehensive rejuvenation from the inside out and long-lasting tightening of the skin. Fillers on the other hand, target a specific location to fill in wrinkles and add volume. A substance is injected to fill in lines and crevices and also to create youthful facial contours but does not address the health or quality of the skin. The choice between microneedling and fillers depends on individual goals, concerns, and preferences, and like other injectables such as Botox, they can be used in combination to achieve comprehensive rejuvenation.