- Dermal fillers are injected into the skin to raise depressed areas of acne scars or stimulate the skin’s natural production of collagen.
- Options for fillers include hyaluronic acid (including Restylane and Juvederm), polymethyl methacrylate microspheres with collagen (Bellafill), poly-L-lactic acid (Sculptra), and autologous fat transfer, which is when fat is taken from the person and injected into the acne scars.
- Bellafill is the only FDA-approved filler to treat acne scars.
- While Bellafill is permanent and effective, it may not be the best choice.
- Talk with your doctor to determine the best filler to treat your acne scars.
- Fillers can be used on areas of the face including the cheeks, nose, lips, and chin, and around the mouth.
- All dermal fillers are generally safe, though it is necessary to perform skin testing for allergies prior to the use of any filler with bovine collagen.
- Newer fillers are made from a sugar naturally found in the skin and rarely cause allergic reactions.
- There are still certain side effects of which to be aware, including:
- allergic reaction to lidocaine or bovine collagen
- Filler injections should only ever be performed in-office by a trained medical professional.
- Most treatments will take anywhere from 15 to 60 minutes, and downtime is minimal; you will be able to resume most normal activities immediately after.
- The average cost of one syringe of Bellafill in 2019 was $855, hyaluronic acid was $652, and fat grafting was $2,163.
- Depending on the type of filler you get, you may need maintenance treatments every six months to two years.
- Some people with severe acne scarring may need more than one treatment to see full results.
Acne can sometimes leave behind scars. For people who are self-conscious about the appearance of these scars, the good news is they can be corrected with fillers.
Bellafill is a long-lasting dermal filler that is approved to treat acne scarring.
It’s made of collagen sourced from cows, which adds volume to the skin, and small polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) beads, which structurally support the skin.
You must be over the age of 21 to receive Bellafill and not have any allergies to bovine collagen. It works on both men and women with a variety of skin types.
In some cases, hyaluronic acid fillers, like Juvederm or Restylane, may be used to treat acne scars.
These fillers can improve the contour of the skin and reduce the depressions in the skin caused by acne scars. Unlike Bellafill, these fillers are considered temporary and will need to be injected every few months.
Another type of filler, poly-L-lactic acid (Sculptra), is sometimes used as well. This substance is not like other fillers in that it won’t immediately plump your skin.
Instead, it stimulates your skin’s production of collagen to gradually reduce the appearance of acne scars over a few months.
Autologous fat transfer
This procedure is much more in-depth than your standard filler, as fat is harvested from your body to be injected into your acne scars.
Results are less predictable because they depend on how much of the injected fat will redevelop a blood supply and survive. About 50 percent will survive, but multiple treatments may be needed.
The price of fillers for acne scars depends on where you’re getting the procedure done, what type of filler you choose, and how much filler you’ll need to treat your scars.
In 2019, the average cost for one syringe was:
- $855 for Bellafill
- $652 for hyaluronic acid, such as Juvederm and Restylane
- $878 for Sculptra
- $2,163 for fat grafting
Because this is generally considered an elective cosmetic procedure, it will not be covered by health plans, though you should not need to take off more than one day of work.
Different types of fillers work in different ways. For example:
The collagen in Bellafill adds volume and lifts the skin, making indented scars look less noticeable. Eventually, the collagen will reabsorb into the body, but the PMMA microspheres remain. This provides structure and support to the skin and allows for more collagen to develop.
The skin stays smooth for a longer period of time when compared with other fillers. Bellafill will generally last around 12 months for acne scars.
After they are injected, these fillers will immediately plump skin and raise and smooth depressed areas. However, they are not long-lasting and will need to be injected every few months to maintain results.
Known as Sculptra, this filler is unlike other fillers in that it doesn’t work right away. Rather, it stimulates your body to produce collagen and gradually lessens the appearance of acne scars over time.
Autologous fat transfer
This procedure involves harvesting fat from another area of your body and injecting it into the acne scars on your face. In order for the fat to survive in a new location, it must redevelop a blood supply. About half of the fat will be able to do this. Once it does, the fat will stay permanently.
About four weeks prior to your appointment you will be asked to share your medical and allergy history, and take part in an in-office allergy test to make sure you’re not allergic to bovine collagen if the filler you are using contains it. In the test, the collagen will be injected into your forearm and you will remain at the office to be monitored for any reaction.
Note that because of the bovine collagen, some vegans and vegetarians may not be comfortable receiving fillers that contain it.
If you are not allergic or if your filler does not contain bovine, you will be able to proceed with your appointment. Your doctor will likely mark your face so they know exactly where to inject.
Each syringe of filler also contains lidocaine, a numbing agent that makes the procedure less painful. Depending on the depth of the scars and the size of the area, the procedure can take anywhere from 15 minutes to about an hour.
Generally, fillers for acne scars will be done on the forehead, cheeks, chin, around the mouth, and anywhere else that scarring is noticeable. You may need more than one treatment to see full results.
As with any cosmetic procedure, there are some risks and side effects to consider. These will typically resolve on their own and may include:
- discoloration at the injection site
- allergy to bovine collagen
- allergy to lidocaine or another numbing agent
- lumping at the injection site
One other risk to note is blood vessel occlusion, which is when a blood vessel becomes blocked and can cause the skin to break down. This is rare for fillers used for acne scarring because they are typically placed superficially, where the risk of occluding a major vessel is unlikely.
Your results will depend on the type of filler you’ve received.
After any fillers, you can resume most activities right away, and you should be able to drive yourself home. Avoid strenuous activities and itching or rubbing the injection site in the days after treatment.
- Bellafill. You will see immediate results that will continue to improve over time. When Bellafill is used for acne scars, results will typically last for 12 months, though in some cases results may last longer.
- Hyaluronic acid. You can expect immediate results. However, they will not last as long as the results from Bellafill. You may need to get injections every few months.
- Poly-L-lactic acid. You’ll likely need treatments every month for three months to see desired results. After that, you may need occasional touch-ups, but this filler is considered semi-permanent.
- Autologous fat transfer. Multiple procedures may be necessary to get your desired look, and results can be less predictable.
It can be helpful to see before and after photos from real people who’ve had fillers for acne when deciding if it’s right for you.
Before you get a filler injection, you will may need to take a skin test, typically about a month before your scheduled appointment, to ensure that you do not have an allergic reaction.
You will also be asked to share medical and allergy history with your doctor. If possible, try to arrive with clean, makeup-free skin.
There are several ways to find a provider: