Aesthetic Treatments

Ask a Derm: Dr. Sejal Shah Breaks Down the Difference Between Injectable Wrinkle Reducers and Fillers

Dr. Sejal Shah

When I was first considering getting an injectable wrinkle reducer for the lines along my forehead, I asked my two best friends for advice. “You already have full lips and cheeks!” they replied in unison, immediately alerting me to the fact that they didn’t actually know what injectable wrinkle reducers were.

In actuality, the fact that they thought this kind of injectable is used to plump the lips or cheek area revealed that they were confusing injectable wrinkle reducers with fillers — a mistake that’s much more common than you’d think. With all of this misinformation surrounding these treatments, it’s easy to feel skeptical about them. So, in order to put an end to all the confusion, we spoke to New York dermatologist Dr. Sejal Shah about the precise distinction between the two injectables. 

[Editor’s note: Injectable wrinkle reducers temporarily smooth the look of moderate to severe wrinkles in certain areas of the face, including the forehead, frown lines, and crow’s feet. Injectable filler is a temporary treatment that adds volume to areas of the face such as the lips, cheeks, and laugh lines. Like any medical treatment, both injectable wrinkle reducers and injectable fillers have potential risks and side effects. Talk to a doctor to see if they’re right for you. And learn more now by chatting with a trained aesthetic specialist.] 

What do injectable wrinkle reducers treat?

Let’s start with the basics. These injections work by temporarily reducing the activity of specific muscles that cause wrinkles due to repetitive movements over time. Once contractions in the underlying muscles decrease, dynamic wrinkles — or wrinkles that occur when you use your muscles to make facial expressions — become less prominent.

Where can you get injectable wrinkle reducers?

“A rule of thumb is that an injectable wrinkle reducer is for lines of expression,” explains Dr. Shah. “If areas of concern are accentuated with facial expression, then an injectable wrinkle reducer is likely the most appropriate treatment.” Currently, injectable wrinkle reducers are used to treat the forehead, crow’s feet, and/or frown lines (aka those pesky “elevens” between the eyebrows). So, if you’re seeing moderate to severe lines in these areas, consult a doctor to see if an injectable wrinkle reducer is a good option for you.

What do injectable fillers treat?

Fillers are specifically designed to “fill” specific areas of the face that have lost volume. Over time, collagen and elastin within our skin slowly diminishes, giving our once plump complexion a less rounded appearance. And since we typically lose fat in our faces, too, filler is a viable option for those who want facial areas like the cheeks plumped back up. Additionally, it’s important to note that injectable fillers are administered into facial tissue — not underlying muscles — to help with volume loss. 

Where can you get injectable fillers?

Dr. Shah asserts that filler is often used with deep nasolabial folds (laugh lines) or marionette lines. As mentioned previously, you can also add it to your cheeks, and many people opt to get it injected into their lips for a fuller pout as well.

What’s the bottom line?

As is the case with any medical aesthetic aesthetic treatment, there are potential risks and side effects to both injectable wrinkle reducers and filler. It’s essential that you consult a board-certified doctor about your options and concerns before booking your appointment. Ensuring that you feel safe, comfortable, and have the ability to communicate openly with your physician is essential for fostering a partnership in which you can speak freely about your aesthetic desires. Looking for a provider near you? Chat with one of our trained aesthetic specialists now to ask more questions and find a trained provider in your area.