Fillers aren’t one-size-fits-all, so discussing your options with your dermatologist is essential to ensure you decide on the one that best suits your skin goals. “The different types of hyaluronic acid fillers are to a cosmetic dermatologist what the various types of paintbrushes are to a painter,” explains Dr. Idriss. “They are made up of the same ingredient, but depending on the size of the formula’s molecules and how they are strung together, they vary in density, lift-ability, and longevity.”

Her best example is comparing Voluma, which tends to be stiff in nature and can hold more weight, to Belotero, a finer, more pliable filler for superficial lines and folds.

They are reversible.

Hyaluronic acid fillers aren’t permanent. What’s more, they’re reversible. If you’re not happy with the results, your dermatologist can insert the enzyme hyaluronidase to dissolve the filler within minutes. “The enzyme works quickly — the material starts to dissolve immediately and is completely done within 24 to 48 hours,” Min S. Ahn, MD, a Boston-based board-certified facial plastic surgeon, previously told Allure. However, he warns, those with bee allergies should use caution — and talk with a dermatologist — before signing up for a hyaluronidase-based procedure, as the enzyme is highly prevalent in bee venom.

Hyaluronic acid fillers aren’t for everyone, though.

Hyaluronic acid fillers are suitable for most people except those who are pregnant. There isn’t much data surrounding pregnancy and fillers, but dermatologists tend to avoid injecting those who are expecting for fear of the unknown. Also, skip these fillers if you have an active skin infection. First, treat the infection, and then proceed with your appointment after your dermatologist has cleared you.

There are risks with injectable hyaluronic acid.

If you’re considering getting hyaluronic fillers, there are a few potential risks. “With any injectable treatment, bruising and swelling are the most common side effects,” says Dr. Idriss. “The good news is that these shortcomings are also short-lived.” Plus, you can reduce the likelihood of bruising by avoiding blood-thinning agents, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and red wine, a week or so before treatment.

Dr. Idriss says a larger concern is unintentionally injecting HA filler into a blood vessel (known as vascular occlusion), which may result in tissue death, scabbing, and scarring. The good news is that this is rare, and the aforementioned hyaluronidase can help to dissolve the filler, as long as your provider acts quickly.

Hyaluronic acid: The TL;DR

Hyaluronic acid is a substance produced by our bodies to hydrate skin. It is also created in labs for skin-care products that offer a plethora of benefits, such as strengthening the skin barrier and visibly reducing fine lines and wrinkles. Hyaluronic acid can also be found in dermal fillers that help smooth, sculpt, and add volume to the face. But injectables come with risks. It’s best to speak to your doctor and see if the injectable is right for you and your skin goals. 

More skin-care terms to know:

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