At-Home Facial Fillers: Are You Risking Your Health for Beauty?

Every year, more than 1 million people opt for dermal fillers, driven by societal pressure to look young. This demand has led to cheap DIY options, raising the question of whether the cost should outweigh safety. While self-administering treatments may save money, they can also pose serious health risks. Discover the trend of DIY dermal fillers and how to stay safe.

What exactly are DIY fillers?

DIY fillers are gel-like substances that people inject beneath their skin generally on the face and lips to enhance facial contours, soften wrinkles, and fine lines, or to enhance their lip volume for a better and youthful look. Injection of hyaluronic acid (HA) is the second most popular non-surgical treatment after Botox.

Social media has played a huge role in normalizing and popularizing the use of these cosmetic procedures, and multiple companies are coming through unregulated forums where self-injectable fillers can be easily bought.

What's inside these home facial fillers?

There are multiple types of dermal fillers available in the market, such as hyaluronic acid (HA), calcium hydroxylapatite (CaHA), poly-L-lactic acid, polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA), and autologous fat injections. Hyaluronic acid filler is the most commonly used DIY facial filler; however, the exact numbers of users and unregulated companies are not reported. Although, based on extensive online literature survey, it has been concluded as a very common and highly searched topic.

Genuine fillers contain either natural substances such as hyaluronic acid, which is naturally present in the human body and helps in maintaining moisture in the skin, or high-quality synthetic compounds like poly-L-lactic acid or PMMA, which are considered compatible with the human body.

However, the DIY fillers made in unregulated companies could contain harmful substances like cooking oil, silicon, or microbial contaminants, due to lack of expertise, poor setup, and to reduce manufacturing cost. Some companies mislabel their products and also make fake (misspelled) labels like those of the branded FDA-approved companies.

Reliable FDA-approved dermal fillers to be used by expert practitioners are:

Scientific names of fillersFDA-approved fillers
Hyaluronic acid (HA)Products by Juvéderm, Restylane, Belotero Balance, Revanesse Versa, and the RHA collection
Calcium hydroxyl apatite (CaHA)Radiesse
Poly-L-lactic acidSculptra
Polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA)Bellafill

Risks to your health and beauty

Some people felt uncomfortable with the idea of injecting fillers themselves, so companies came up with another way to apply fillers without needles. They introduced pressure devices advertised as easy-to-use kits for applying fillers anywhere on the skin. This has led to a large market for DIY fillers, but it also comes with risks.

Potential risks associated with any type (injectable or non-injectable) of fillers include:

  • Infection
  • Bruising
  • Lumps
  • Rash
  • Itching

And in some cases, they could cause severe complications such as:

  • Vascular occlusion (blockage of blood vessels)
  • Allergic reactions
  • Granulomas (small lumps or bumps that can form under the skin after injection)
  • Bleeding
  • Cold sores

In addition to all these complications, needle-free devices for infusing fillers can cause tissue damage or necrosis (death of tissue) due to high pressure created on the skin.

Why do people use at-home fillers?

In an age where information is readily available, it has become difficult for people to distinguish between trustworthy and unreliable sources. Those who opt for DIY fillers typically do so for two main reasons: cost and convenience. DIY kits promise to address both of these concerns, leading many individuals to choose this method.

Nowadays people use multiple forums to discuss their experiences. Some sell these fillers claiming authentic sources and great results, giving injection maps and tutorials so that other people can also try it. Because of the reasons mentioned earlier, particularly the high expense linked with professional treatment, individuals choose DIY kits instead, often without knowing the potential risks.

Why is professional treatment important?

Risking health for beauty is simply not worth it. The safest option for cosmetic treatments is to have licensed professionals perform them. They use medical-grade, approved fillers and know which type suits each person best.

Furthermore, these professionals understand skin type, technique, and the science behind fillers, considering medical conditions (if any), to determine suitability. Although it may be more expensive than self-application with minimal downtime, professional assistance can prevent irreversible health damage and should never be overlooked.

Natural alternatives to DIY fillers

Opting for natural methods to combat signs of aging is not only the safest but also the most economical approach compared to unnatural treatments. There are numerous natural alternatives to dermal fillers, including:

  • Daily facial massage for 3–5 minutes
  • Using topical products with vitamin C, E and ferulic acid
  • Incorporating niacinamide into skincare routine
  • Maintaining a healthy diet
  • Applying flaxseed serum

Is flaxseed gel better than fillers?

Flaxseed gel and DIY recipes from flaxseeds are the new promising trends on social media. Flaxseed is a rich, natural source of antioxidants loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, proteins, and minerals. Its antioxidant properties have propelled it into the spotlight as an anti-aging compound. However, more clinical trials and studies are required to quantify its actual effect on the human skin.

While at-home recipes cannot replicate the effects of dermal fillers or Botox, natural treatments utilizing ingredients like flaxseed may promote collagen production and support even complexion. Many videos demonstrate the extraction of flaxseed gel using boiling methods, but it's worth noting that vitamins and minerals may be affected by high temperatures. For an effective extraction method, consider the following DIY recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup flaxseeds
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 cup water
  • Pure vitamin E oil (alpha tocopherol)
  • Cheesecloth

Preparation:

  1. Finely grind 1/4 cup of flaxseeds and keep in 1 cup of water for approximately 5–6 hours.
  2. Keep stirring the water and flaxseed mixture after some intervals.
  3. Strain the watery gel using a cheesecloth and collect the gel in a container.
  4. Mix 1 tablespoon of cold-pressed flaxseed gel with 1/2 tablespoon of honey and 10 drops of vitamin E oil.
  5. Apply the mixture to your face and rinse off with cold water after 20 minutes.
  6. For optimal results, use this mixture 2–3 times a week before bathing.
  7. This mixture can be stored in the refrigerator for 2–3 days.

Although this method will yield a watery gel compared to the boiling method, the nutrients will be more intact with the cold extraction method. Also, at-home extraction will not result in a dense and good quality flaxseed gel as compared to the company manufactured.

Additionally, if you prefer not to use honey and vitamin E, the extracted gel can be used alone.

Choosing between chemical or natural methods to maintain a youthful appearance is a personal decision. However, prioritizing health over beauty is paramount, and seeking expert advice before opting for any unnatural treatments is essential. People with sensitive skin type or having any other skin condition should always consult a doctor before using any type of home skin therapy products.

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