Botox and fillers. They may not be something you’re openly talking about or that you’re actively booking in for, but thanks to the power of the internet, we know they intrigue you. It’s something you search for and click on features about, and it’s the Botox subject lines on our newsletters that catch your interest. A few of you have been searching “Botox or fillers?” on Byrdie, so we wanted to reveal the differences between the two treatments and why you would book in for each. Essentially this is everything you ever needed to know about Botox and fillers.
I’m well placed to discuss this subject, having had both Botox (more than a couple of times) and fillers once, but we put all your questions (and ours) to one of London’s most well-renowned cosmetic doctors, Jean-Louis Sebagh, who hails from France but has a clinic on Wimpole Street in London. What this man doesn’t know about injectables, quite frankly, isn’t worth knowing! Keep scrolling to find out everything you ever wanted to know about Botox and fillers, plus the handful of products we’ve found that subtly mimic the effects of these treatments without the needles…
BYRDIE UK: What is the difference between Botox and fillers?
Jean-Louis Sebagh: Botulinum toxin, or Botox, as it is known, is used to temporarily relax facial muscles that cause lines and wrinkles. Botox is the brand name for the most well known of these products and has been used in the medical and cosmetic fields for many decades. It is injected most often directly into muscles that cause frown lines between the eyebrows and the area around the side of the eyes to improve the look of crow’s feet.
On the other hand, fillers, also known as dermal fillers, are there to replace lost volume. As we age, our cells produce less natural collagen and elastin, and our skin becomes drier and less plump due to a reduction in the naturally occurring hyaluronic acid in our bodies. (HA is a sugar molecule that is present throughout the body and lubricates joints and acts as a moisturising cushion.)
Dermal fillers, which are high in HA, are injected under the skin through a fine needle; this adds volume, visibly smoothing lines and wrinkles, and making the face fresher. Generally fillers would be used in the cheek area or the lips to plump out the outline and restore volume. Everyone is different, so a consultation is always the best way to start.
BYRDIE UK: There seem to be lots of different names for each treatment, why is that?
JLS: It's just the different brand names from different companies, much like the different face creams from different brands! As surgeons, we all have our favourites that give the results we feel are the best.
BYRDIE UK: What is the overall effect of each treatment?
JLS: These are the most popular anti-ageing, no downtime treatments available. Botox will be used to freshen the face by stopping muscle memory and smoothing lines. Thanks to fillers, we can now restore that loss and thus keep the face looking younger!
BYRDIE UK: For readers interested in Botox and fillers, when should they go see someone?
JLS: I always say you should consult early (late 20s). A good surgeon can see from how a face will age from its architecture. Based on this, we can make small adjustments gradually to keep the patient looking his or her best for longer. With the technology we have now, facelifts in the 50s and 60s are practically obsolete, but don’t leave it until then to consult because it may be too late!
BYRDIE UK: Are these injections painful?
JLS: No, the needles that we use are very fine. However, every patient is different, and we offer a local anaesthetic cream if they wish; generally speaking, they don’t need it.
[Ed note: Botox is not painful, just a slight pricking and scratching sensation, but fillers in the lip area especially can feel a little tender. If you have a good idea of your pain threshold, you'll probably know whether you need a numbing cream or not!]
BYRDIE UK: How long do they each last?
JLS: Both usually last five or six months with most patients, but sometimes as long as eight to nine months. It depends; some are more resistant than others.
I don’t like anything too permanent, that’s why I only use dissolvable products. It’s not good to do something long-term because ageing is a continual process, which you need to adjust around. Everyone is slightly different. What I do is a permanent adjustment. It’s like a moving puzzle, and it’s about maintaining the balance.
BYRDIE UK: How safe is Botox and fillers? Are there any side effects?
JLS: They are perfectly safe, Botox has been used medically for years and was approved for cosmetic use in the '80s. Fillers now are mainly hyaluronic acid, which is dissolvable and metabolised by the body. The fillers used 10 or 20 years ago were silicone, and that was a problem because they were permanent.
BYRDIE UK: How does the cost differ?
JLS: It all depends on how much you need!
Shop the Products That Mimic Botox and Fillers
This intensive serum contains a Botox-like complex to reduce and prevent the appearance of lines while hyaluronic acid and peptides protect and regenerate collagen fibres to address the loss of volume that fillers do. Used morning and night, this elixir's gold pigments make skin look radiant from the first use.
Not convinced you want lip fillers? This impressive lightweight serum seriously plumps lips. Pat it on and watch them grow before your eyes. The fullness lasts a few hours, but you can reapply. It promises to offer a long-lasting plumpness with continued use.
Check out our reviews of the best lip plumpers.
Boasting the "highest allowable concentration of the most effective anti-ageing peptides," this serum tackles dynamic wrinkles, fine lines and crow's feet. It's a very impressive Botox alternative; you can almost feel it working.