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What's The Difference Between Botox And Fillers?

Aren't they the same? Which one should you have? Why are they both used? Do they cost the same? Are fillers more risky?

We know. You don't understand the difference and which one you should go for. Fear not, we're going to explain the difference between Botox and fillers as simply as possible! Read this to find out which treatment is right for you.

Whether you end up having Botox or fillers, the most important thing you should do is consult with a medically qualified aesthetics practitioner first. Find someone who you can trust right here.

What is the difference between Botox and fillers?

You know that Botox and fillers are both used to treat the face to tackle things like lines and wrinkles and crinkly foreheads and saggy chins. You know they are both injected into your face, but you probably don’t really understand how they are different and you probably think it’s a personal choice which one you go for… which is kinda right!

At a glance: the difference between Botox and fillers:

  • Made from different ingredients/chemicals
  • Once injected, they work in different ways
  • Botox stops muscle contractions (which causes lines and wrinkles)
  • Fillers fill - they replace the loss of volume which has caused the wrinkle/line to form
  • Fillers can cause more serious complications than Botox
  • Botox takes a couple of weeks to see full results, fillers have an almost immediate impact
  • Both are amazing treatments when carried out by medical aesthetic professionals!

They do the same thing don’t they?

If you mean they both help you to look fabulous, then yes. But these two treatments are very different products that do very different things. And while it’s a choice which one you go for, it is somewhat determined by the issue or concern you’re trying to fix or improve.

Can you guess what treatment this patient had? Fillers. And if you're thinking 'I can't see the difference' that's the whole point of great aesthetics work! By Dr Bryony Elder

How Does Botox Work?

Botox comes as powder that is then mixed in a solution and then it’s injected using a tiny needle into a muscle. Botox works by stopping nerves from functioning. Normally, nerves communicate with other parts of your body, such as your muscles. Botox essentially stops the nerves from sending its little chemical messages to the muscle which tell it to move, so the muscle activity that causes the lines is reduced, and without a contracting muscle beneath it, the skin has a difficult time wrinkling. Ta da!

Now then, Botox might not be so great for lines, especially deep ones, that are there even when you don’t move part of your face - but sometimes Botox can soften them still. Instead fillers are often used (we’ll come onto those).

What lines are Botox good for?

Botox in the UK is approved for the temporary improvement in the appearance of

  • Vertical lines/Glabellar line (or the 11s as they are commonly referred to) between the eyebrows when you frown
  • Crows feet lines (lateral canthal lines) when you smile
  • Forehead lines, the ones you see when you raise your eyebrows!

However Botox is also increasingly being used to treat lower parts of the face, to improve the appearance of the neck and jowl area, jaw and to treat gummy smiles.

So how is filler different from Botox?

Eating a chocolate muffin will make you feel full. Eating a cheese omelette will also make you feel full. They both achieve the same thing but they taste different and will deliver different nutrients to your body. Same with Botox and filler. They will both fix lines and wrinkles but they will do that in different ways using a different mechanism with different ingredients.

Is filler the same as Botox?

No, not at all. They are utterly different products. Filler comes in different consistencies and each filler product is uniquely formulated to have a certain texture, density, and injection depth, which means that certain fillers work better for certain areas of concern. Filler doesn’t stop any nerve signals or muscles from working, as the name implies, fillers - quite simply - fill.

Generally, while Botox will be used for the top half of our faces and is best used for the expression lines associated with that area, filler is more generally used to address concerns on the lower half of the face, which aren’t so closely aligned with muscle movement, but rather volume loss.

Where can I have filler?

It’s probably easier to ask where you can't have it! Filler can be used effectively to treat so many different concerns:

  • Under the eyes (tear troughs). As we’ve established, filler fills, so filler isn’t going to be any good for eye bags -the last thing you want is more stuff in there! But if you have hollow eyes and dark circles, filler can be used to ‘refill’ the area and freshen your eyes up
  • Cheeks - as we age we lose all that lovely ‘puppy fat’ that kept us looking so youthful and plump, filler in the cheeks will restore that loss and amazingly because it fills, it also lifts, so it can have the added benefit of giving the illusion that our jowls/jawline area has become tighter and lifted too
  • Lines between your nose and mouth (nasolabial folds), a dab of filler in these lines can soften their appearance and prevent makeup collecting in the folds, no more cake-face!
  • Lines between your mouth and chin (marionette lines), those lines which also make you look like an ageing sad person, or a puppet, can be softened with just a nip of filler
  • Lips - no explanation needed is there really - but lip filler is by far the most popular treatment after Botox on Glowday, and you don’t need to fret about duck or sausage lips with Glowday’s practitioners - that’s not what they do!
  • Nose - fillers in the nose can be life-changing! The non-surgical lunch-time nose job is an incredible treatment, check this article out to see how good it can be!

There are other areas that filler can be used, but these are the main concerns that typically an aesthetics practitioner will address using filler.

Why is filler different consistencies?

Different areas of your face will need different types of filler. You may need a firmer, more structural type of filler in your cheek as it’s performing a support job and a runnier, thinner filler in your nose. There isn't a one-filler-fits-all product and a good practitioner will have an army of filler types on their shelves to ensure they can address the whole range of concerns.

I have Botox already, but I’m scared of filler, it’s too risky.

This is a common fear. Filler tends to frighten people more than Botox - probably because Botox has become more normalised and people talk about it having it more frequently than they do filler. That said, it’s true. Filler does present more opportunity for something more serious to go wrong because if it is injected into the wrong place, it can block blood from moving through our vessels. This means that if blood doesn’t reach the bits of our face that it needs to, and those bits of the face don’t get the oxygen they need, they start to die. This is what’s happened when you see images of black noses and lips.

The thing to remember here, however, is that unlike Botox, filler can be dissolved. When Botox goes wrong, it usually results in redness, lumps and bumps, crooked eyebrows or smiles and at its worst causes a droopy eye (Ptsosis). It’s always temporary (although that can be a number of months) but you do just have to wait it out, there isn’t much that can resolve it. Fillers going wrong can be treated immediately with a dissolving agent, called Hyalase.

Fillers go wrong more often don't they?

We probably do see more examples of fillers going wrong because more and more non medics and unqualified people are injecting them into people - and lip fillers are so popular. Fillers rely on precision and accurate placement. They rely on the practitioner having a deep knowledge and understanding of someone’s anatomy and what lies beneath the skin. There is no requirement for any minimum training or standards and fillers don’t require a prescription, so it’s very easy for people to buy fake and dodgy products on the internet. We see more fillers going wrong because more people, who shouldn’t be injecting them, are injecting them. Even the most advanced medically-qualified aesthetics practitioners are changing the way they inject fillers and we’re seeing an emergence of ultrasound being used to accurately inject filler so they can clearly see the vessels beneath the skin, before injecting. It’s unlikely your local beautician will be investing in such advancements!

Fillers are very safe in good hands

Broadly, however, the truth is that fillers in the professional hands are actually pretty low risk. If you trust a medical practitioner to give you Botox, you can certainly trust them to give you filler. A medically qualified and well-trained aesthetics practitioner will be very advanced in their understanding of your face and proper filler placement.

More importantly, they will almost always be able to identify when a complication has occurred and be able to treat it swifty and appropriately. Most of the ‘HORROR! fillers gone wrong’ stories you will see come from non-medics injecting. Not only are they (usually) unable to resolve complications themselves (they don’t have the prescription-only product or the specialist skills to do it) in many circumstances they don’t even recognize there is a problem (you’ll be fine, it’s just swelling!) or ignore the patient and the problem, because they don’t want to even attempt to help.

So the message is that, yes, while fillers can cause serious problems if they do go wrong, they’re far less likely to go wrong in the first place if you have them with a medically-qualified aesthetics professional.

Fillers never look good, they make people look strange and puffy.

The other aspect they puts even hardcore Botox lovers off fillers is the misconception they will always results in pillow face. You know the look. The chipmunk. The Courtney Cox/Simon Cowell effect. Puffed up cheeks and tiny eyes. This is usually caused, again, by practitioners using too much filler and not respecting the natural anatomy of someone’s face. Unfortunately, these famous people have become the poster guys for filler and everyone assumes that’s it, that’s what filler does, and there is no other scenario. But this is a huge misconception - and if you think of people such as Kate Middleton, Michelle Keegan, Adele and Holly Willougby, you’ll get a much better appreciation for the positive side of fillers and how they can look beautiful, natural, healthy and subtle, when done well!

Holly Willoughby is a perfect example of someone who at the age of 41 is 99% likely to have had dermal fillers yet still looks herself. And incredible.

How long does Botox last?

Roughly Botox lasts for 3-6 months but it will hinge on you and how quickly your body metabolises it.

How much does Botox cost?

For a Botox session with a safe and qualified practitioner, you can expect to pay from £175 to £300 per area. Don’t be tempted by cheap deals, they’re a warning sign.

How long do dermal fillers last?

Filler tends to last a bit longer and new studies are suggesting it lasts even longer than we first thought. Roughly though, between six and 24 months, depending on the area you have targeted and the type of filler used.

How much do dermal fillers cost?

The price of fillers really depends on the type you want. For lip fillers, you should expect to pay upwards of £300. For cheek fillers, a session with a qualified practitioner will start from £350, and from £450 for liquid rhinoplasty.

The conclusion.

Fillers and Botox both achieve amazing results and both address lines and wrinkles and have an incredible impact on ageing concerns. But what is injected and where makes these products very different in nature.

The most important take-out for you is that you must consider a consultation with a medically-qualified practitioner before undergoing either Botox or fillers. It’s really the single most important thing you can do. And it's worth mentioning that to achieve your goals, it might be that both Botox AND filler will be used.

Find out more about Botox and dermal fillers in our handy treatment guides. You can also book consultations for the treatment of lines and wrinkles or fillers on the Glowday search tool, knowing that all practitioners listed on our site are medically qualified and trained in aesthetics.


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