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The FDA's approval is based on the review of data collected from controlled clinical studies that evaluated the safe and effective use of the wrinkle fillers when injected into specified areas of facial tissue and the hands.
Most dermal fillers have a temporary effect, because they contain materials that are absorbed by the body over time. The FDA has approved only one product made from a material that remains in the body and is not absorbed. Some dermal fillers also contain lidocaine, which is intended to decrease pain or discomfort related to the injection.
The materials used in dermal fillers include:
Absorbable (temporary) materials
- Hyaluronic acid: Hyaluronic acid is a type of sugar (polysaccharide) that is present in body tissues, such as in skin and cartilage. It is able to combine with water and swell when in gel form, causing a smoothing/filling effect. Sources of hyaluronic acid used in dermal fillers can be from bacteria or rooster combs (avian). In some cases, hyaluronic acid used in dermal fillers is chemically modified (crosslinked) to make it last longer in the body. The effects of this material last approximately 6 – 12 months.
- Calcium hydroxylapatite: Calcium hydroxylapatite is a type of mineral that is commonly found in human teeth and bones. For wrinkle filling in the face or for the hand, calcium hydroxylapatite particles are suspended in a gel-like solution and then injected into the wrinkle in the face or under the skin in the back of the hand. The effects of this material last approximately 18 months. While in the body, calcium hydroxylapatite will be visible in x-rays and may obscure underlying features.
- Poly-L-lactic acid (PLLA): PLLA is a biodegradable, biocompatible man-made polymer. This material has wide uses in absorbable stitches and bone screws. PLLA is a long lasting filler material that is given in a series of injections over a period of several months. The effects of PLLA generally become increasingly apparent over time (over a period of several weeks) and its effects may last up to 2 years.
Non-absorbable (permanent) materials
- Polymethylmethacrylate beads (PMMA microspheres): PMMA is a non-biodegradable, biocompatible, man-made polymer. This material is used in other medical devices, such as bone cement and intraocular lenses. PMMA beads are tiny, round, smooth particles that are not absorbed by the body. When used as a soft tissue filler, PMMA beads are suspended in a gel-like solution that contains cow (bovine) collagen and injected into the face. Collagen is a type of protein that is a major part of skin and other tissues in the body.
The FDA is aware that unapproved versions of Juvederm, such as Juvederm Ultra 2, 3, and 4 have been sold and distributed in the U.S., including by online retailers. Juvederm is a prescription device that should only be injected and sold by or on the prescription of a licensed health care provider. The FDA is warning health care providers and patients not to use any Juvederm Ultra 2, 3 or 4, because these products are not approved for use in the U.S. As such, the safety and effectiveness of these products cannot be assured. A list of approved products and indications for use in the U.S. can be found in the table below.
The FDA has NOT approved liquid silicone or silicone gel for injection to fill wrinkles or augment tissues anywhere in the body.
When FDA approves a new dermal filler or an approved dermal filler for a new indication for use, a Summary of Safety and Effectiveness Data is published, which contains information about the non-clinical and clinical data the FDA reviewed and determined to support a reasonable assurance of safety and effectiveness. The Summary of Safety and Effectiveness Data as well as health care provider and patient labeling for each approved dermal filler may be found by searching the link below for product code "LMH" (dermal fillers for the face) and "PKY" (dermal fillers for the hand):
It should be noted that not all of the dermal fillers listed in the above-linked database are currently marketed.