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Botox vs. Dermal Fillers: What’s The Difference?

Posted by Nima | September 23, 2022

Botox and Dermal fillers are two popular aesthetic procedures. The best part is they can be administered right there in the office, and in most situations, do not require any recovery time after injection. These treatments are the most sought-after solution to wrinkles and fine lines on the face and body. In addition to diminishing wrinkles, dermal fillers can add fullness to the face or hands and help reduce scarring. Plus, other versions of Botox also have numerous medical uses, like migraine treatment.

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Dermal fillers and Botox have a variety of uses, side effects, and risks which are detailed below.

What is Botox?

Botox Cosmetic is a neurotoxin isolated from the bacteria Clostridium botulinum. This toxin, at high doses, can cause health issues if not administered safely. Botox injections are given in very low doses and only to certain muscles, making it a safe and low-risk treatment.

Botox injections temporarily stop muscles from contracting where they are administered and improve collagen production. It’s mostly used for cosmetic purposes, such as smoothing facial lines, but can be used to sooth tensed muscles that cause migraines and similar issues. Similar to Botox, Dysport, Xeomin, and Jeuveau are some of the other products that may be used to treat facial wrinkles. 

What are dermal fillers?

Fillers injected into the skin to smooth wrinkles or provide fullness to the hands or face are known as dermal fillers. Both short- and long-lasting dermal filler options are available. They’re classified as medical devices rather than medicines since they’re not drugs.

Some fillers are only temporary because your body will break down and absorb the injected substances over time. FDA-approved fillers are made of one of three substances: hyaluronic acid, calcium hydroxylapatite, or poly-L-lactic acid (PLLA).

Examples of temporary fillers include:

  • Hyaluronic acid: Juvederm, Restylane, and Captique
  • Calcium hydroxylapatite: Radiesse
  • Poly-L-lactic acid (PLLA): Sculptra

There’s also a synthetic dermal filler solution that isn’t absorbed by the body. This makes it more long-lasting than other fillers. It’s made up of tiny, smooth polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) beads. Only Bellafill is FDA-approved as a PMMA filler. Its effects may last up to 5 years.

What are the differences between Botox and dermal fillers?

Fillers and Botox injections are two different techniques for treating facial wrinkles; however, they perform in different ways to produce the same effect. Who can use them, how long they last, and the associated risks and drawbacks are all slightly varied.


Dermal fillers are injected under the skin, rather than into the muscle. They help create volume wherever they’re placed, for a smoother and fuller look.

Dermal fillers are FDA-approved for people aged 22 and older. They’re used to improve the following things:

  • Facial creases that are moderate to severe 
  • Acne scars 
  • People with illness or chronic conditions that have lost fullness in the face
  • Cosmetic appeal for people wanting more full, smooth skin in areas of their face
  • Shaping and sculpting the face

Botox is injected into specific facial muscles to improve the appearance of lines and wrinkles. The treatment works by temporarily relaxing the muscles, which gives the skin a smoother, more youthful appearance.

Botox Cosmetic is FDA-approved for use in adults at least 18 years old to treat the following:

  • Wrinkles or lines that appear between the eyebrows when you frown
  • The wrinkles that appear on the outer corners of your eyes
  • Any forehead lines

Although dermal fillers are mostly used for aesthetic purposes, other forms of Botox may be utilized to treat a variety of medical issues, including:

  • Overactive bladder syndrome
  • Chronic migraines
  • Spasticity, a medical condition that causes muscles to be permanently contracted
  • Sweating too much
  • Eyes that are crossed


The length of time you’ll see results with dermal fillers is determined by the particular product you choose:

  • Hyaluronic acid: Some of the effects can last up to six months or twelve months.
  • Calcium hydroxylapatite: The effects may endure for up to 18 months.
  • PLLA: Over the course of a few months, injections are administered, with results showing after several weeks. The effects may endure for up to two years.
  • PMMA: You’ll see results immediately, but they will grow overtime the more you use it. This product is long-lasting too; effects have been reported up to 5 years after initial use!

Botox injections result in shorter duration of effectiveness than dermal fillers. The effects of Botox tend to last for around 3 to 4 months after treatment. However, this can differ based on individual circumstances. To keep their outcomes, many individuals will require additional injections over time.

Side effects

The majority of dermal filler side effects appear after a few days. They’ll generally go away in 1 to 2 weeks. However, in some circumstances, they can last for months or years.

Dermal fillers can cause some common, yet temporary side effects, such as:

  • Redness or bruising as the most common symptoms
  • Swelling or pain in the joints
  • Itching or rashes 
  • When injections are given into the back of the hand, some activities become more difficult (for example, when pressing down on a computer keyboard)
  • While it is not common, some people who received an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine have reported facial swelling after getting dermal filler injections. This reaction can be resolved with treatment.

If you experience any swelling in the area where you received dermal fillers, please contact your healthcare provider.

Botox injections may cause bruising, swelling, and discomfort at the injection site. It is possible that it can induce:

  • A drooping face
  • A drooping eyelid or brow
  • Seeing double
  • Dry eyes


Dermal fillers are only safe when administered by an experienced medical professional in a proper setting–never outside of a healthcare facility.

Fillers injected below the surface of the skin can have a variety of undesired side effects, some of which are severe, including:

  • Lumps, ridges, or clogged areas are common
  • Swelling has become severe
  • Uneven skin tone
  • Infection 
  • Reaction to a filler (some fillers need allergy testing prior to treatment)
  • Dermal fillers injected into a blood vessel, although rare, can cause severe tissue damage, blindness or stroke.

There are also several unapproved dermal filler treatments on the market. This covers silicone injections, needle-free devices, and items offered directly to consumers. These goods may be fraudulent, infected, or dangerous. Only get dermal filler injections from a qualified healthcare professional in a clinical setting.

Botox injections are usually well tolerated. Although uncommon, they can produce serious adverse effects within hours or several weeks after the treatment has ended. Botox may impair activity in muscles involved in speech and breathing, allowing individuals to lose strength.

In very rare instances, the neurotoxin in Botox may travel away from the injection site. This can lead to botulism, a potentially fatal illness. Symptoms include muscle weakness all over the body, difficulty speaking and breathing, and blurry eyesight.

The bottom line of Botox and dermal fillers

Dermal fillers and Botox are common cosmetic treatments because they give you fast results with little to no recovery time. The results can last anywhere from a few months to a few years, depending on which treatment you get.

Botox and dermal fillers may cause mild side effects like swelling, redness, or discomfort. They should also be administered by a trained healthcare professional in a medical setting to avoid serious problems.