What’s the Difference Between Botox & Fillers + How to Know Which Is Right for You

The first step is to arm yourself with knowledge (and scrolling the Kardashians' Instagrams don't count).
BY Sarah Lim
| Last updated Apr, 2023
What's the Difference Between Botox & Fillers

If you’ve been thinking of getting a professional skincare treatment to improve the appearance of wrinkles or to help prevent wrinkles, there are options available that don’t require weeks of downtime or plastic surgery. Botox and dermal fillers are two of those options. Make sure that your skincare goals are in mind when you think about Botox vs filler.

In the United States, approximately 10 million people have received these injections, making them two of the most popular cosmetic enhancement procedures.

Although they work differently, they are both minimally invasive procedures and are injected into the skin or muscle using a needle. So what exactly is the difference between Botox and fillers, and which one is right for you?

Understanding How Skin Ages

Not everyone gets Botox or fillers because their skin is aging. Some people want to prevent facial wrinkles or desire fuller lips or cheeks. However, before we dive into Botox vs filler, it’s important to understand how the skin ages to understand how these injectables slow that process.

Skin naturally becomes thinner as we age and produces less collagen. Skin also tends to lose some moisture as we age since sebaceous glands produce significantly less oil.  

These changes can result in skin that sags, looks dull, and is less plump. Although laser skincare treatments or a facelift can help correct some of these signs of skin aging, some people don’t want to go through the recovery period, which can take weeks.

Botox and fillers don’t have this recovery period. When considering Botox vs filler, have your skincare goals in mind so that you can choose the proper treatment for you.

Botox: To Prevent Wrinkles

Botox is injected into your facial muscles. Then Botox injections relax these muscles. As a result, the muscles can’t move when you make facial expressions, which causes fewer wrinkles to form and helps prevent dynamic wrinkles from forming in the first place.

But what exactly is Botox? The main ingredient in Botox is actually a toxin from Clostridium botulinum, a bacterium. In larger amounts, this botulinum toxin is deadly. However, in Botox, the toxin is safe to use. 

If you have forehead lines or wrinkles around your eyes or mouth, Botox can help treat these. Botox can take a couple of weeks for you to notice a difference, and the results don’t last as long as fillers. Depending on the individual, the effect can last anywhere from three to six months.

Botox treatments may be for you to prevent wrinkles resulting from facial movements and expressions, such as smiling, frowning, or squinting. Botox can also prevent existing wrinkles from getting worse. If you have wrinkles resulting from sagging skin, Botox won’t necessarily be the right choice. For these wrinkles, you may want to consider fillers.

Side effects of Botox can include bruising, headaches, and more rarely, infections and allergic reactions or eye side effects such as blurred vision or corneal irritation. 

Fillers: To Restore or Create Volume

The distinction between Botox and fillers is that soft tissue fillers “fill in” wrinkles, hence their name. However, you use fillers to make lips and cheeks look fuller and can even help reshape your jawline.

Fillers generally use hyaluronic acid, which the body produces naturally. However, hyaluronic acid production, like collagen, decreases over time. 

Although hyaluronic acid is considered a temporary filler, fillers with calcium hydroxylapatite or polylactic acid are considered “semi-permanent”, meaning they last longer—up to a year.   

There are also “permanent” fillers that last even longer—up to a few years, depending on the filler and the location. These include silicone, hydrogel polymers, and polymethyl methacrylate microspheres (PMMA).

Botox and fillers are both treatment options for wrinkles around the mouth. Fillers can last up to six months or a year and, for some people, even longer. Over time, the body will naturally get rid of the filler. If you want to maintain the effect of the filler, you will have to have it redone. 

This is different from Botox, which does not travel to other areas in the body. While filler can “migrate”, meaning it can disperse into areas where it wasn’t injected, Botox remains very close to the area of injection.

With fillers, the effect is immediate and lasts longer, but they don’t necessarily prevent wrinkles. Instead, they plump sagging or sunken areas of the skin to reduce the appearance of skin thinness and sagging.

Side effects of fillers include swelling, redness, bruising, pain, itching, and in rare cases, allergic reactions or infections.

Can They Be Used Together?

Although there’s a difference between Botox and fillers, you can use them together to treat different concerns on the face. In fact, getting a combination of Botox and fillers may help increase the time your body retains the filling agent, which can result in effects that last longer. However, you can’t get Botox and FDA-approved fillers injected in the same areas on your face.

How to Find the Right Professional

Whether you’re considering Botox or fillers, it’s essential to work with a professional for these cosmetic treatments.

An experienced professional can help you weigh the risks and benefits of Botox vs filler. Although you can consider Botox and fillers to be safe, working with a certified professional can not only minimize your risk for side effects but help you have the best possible results. 

Board-certified plastic surgeons, dermatologists, and registered nurses can all perform Botox injections. However, just because they are a medical professional doesn’t mean they are trained and experienced in administering Botox. Always ask your potential practitioner about their experience and ask to see patient results during your consultation.

Find Out Your Skin Type Now

Are you considering aesthetic treatments such as Botox or fillers to improve the appearance of your skin and reduce wrinkles? If so, find out your skin type now to learn how these procedures could affect your healing time and the outcome.

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