Could injectable facial treatments replace surgery?

Article: Could injectable facial treatments replace surgery?

There is an abundance of different cosmetic treatments today, including injectable treatments such as fillers and skinboosters. Compared to surgery, how effective are these treatments? Is it possible to get the same results and what are the advantages and disadvantages of each alternative?

To find out, a good start is to understand what happens to the face as we age. Aging involves many different processes that take place in different parts of the face. With a better understanding of the aging process, the better you will know what is optimal for you and what will give you the best result.

If you are young, understanding the aging process may not feel relevant yet, but it is actually equally important for you to know how the face changes over time and how you can protect it from aging. A procedure that suits you today may not be optimal tomorrow. Especially when it comes to non-reversible surgery , the consequences can be substantial.

Below you can read about the changes that the face undergoes as you age and how to best treat different types of change. With this knowledge, you are able to maximize your unique beauty potential and prevent signs of aging.

The article will discuss:

  • The aging process and how it changes our facial features
  • New treatment options using new technology
  • Using the right product for each indication
  • How to personalize and perfect your own beauty

The aging process in different parts of the face

–  Bone structure. Your body is constantly remodeling your bone structure. When you are young, bone formation exceeds bone resorption (the process of breaking down the tissue in bones and releasing the minerals, which results in a transfer of calcium from bone tissue to the blood). As you age, however, bone resorption exceeds bone formation. This means that your face will gradually lose volume and definition. Bone resorption will be particularly visible at the temples and at the posterior jaw.

–     Fat compartments. As we age, we lose volume in the face due to a loss of facial fat. In addition, the fat compartments in the cheeks descend toward the jawline and contribute to what is called jowling. That is, when the jawline starts drooping and becomes undefined. We also lose volume in the lips and, with time, more or less all over the face.

–         Hydration. A major component of skin hydration is hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid can bind a thousand times its molecular weight in water. However, as we age our skin goes through changes that affect its appearance and can cause it to lose its natural glow.[1]

–     Collagen and elastin. Collagen and elastin are two other important components of the skin that contribute to skin structure and elasticity. As we age, the skin produces less collagen and elastin, which means that we have less collagen fibers and elastin compared to a young person. The result is a thinner and sagging skin that has lost its elasticity, structure, and flexibility.[2]

–     Wrinkles. As we age, wrinkles are formed, partly because of the loss of hyaluronic acid, collagen, and elastin, but also due to repeated facial expressions. 

An “old fashioned” face lift, where the skin is stretched back and excess skin is removed, does not treat the different changes that take place as we age, such as bone resorption or the loss of hydration, or facial fat loss, for example. 

New technology has come very far in targeting the specific areas and the specific problems of an aging face. The result is that many plastic surgeons transition from surgery to minimal-invasive treatment, such as injectables. Listen to Florida-based Plastic Surgeon Dr. Steven Weiner explains why he prefers working primarily with minimal-invasive treatments.

To quote Dr. Steven Weiner, “we have come to an age where we can keep up with aging by using minimal-invasive treatments.” The only part of the face where surgery could be needed is around the eyes, for example to remove eye bags. But even eye bags can be made less visible with a dermal filler. 

The most important advantage of injectable treatments compared to surgery is that they are not permanent. You can therefore adjust and perfect your facial contours according to your specific needs at a particular age. In the last few years, younger people have started to request chin and jawline procedures. There is a big advantage of being able to continuously adjust the treatment, as your jaw will inevitably change with time.

Use the right product for each part of the face

To achieve the optimal result with your treatment it is important to use the right product for each part of the face. New technology has given us a wide range of different options. In this new era of facial procedures, we have moved away from standard treatments. It is instead about enhancing and restoring your own natural beauty so that you can look your best. 

–     Restore and enhance the bone structure.  Dermal fillers made of hyaluronic acid can be used to compensate for bone resorption, as well as enhance, for example, the chin and jawline. The dermal filler has to be quite firm, so that it can create a projection that lasts. If a soft filler is used, the stretched skin over your chin or nose will push the filler to the side and the projection and definition will be lost.

–     Restore fat loss and enhance cheeks and lips. Another excellent use of dermal fillers is to restore or enhance volume in the face in areas that are soft and movable, such as the lips and cheeks. In these areas, the dermal filler must be softer and more flexible. In this way, your face will look good when you talk and smile, as the hyaluronic acid injection will become an integral part of your skin and face.

–     Improve skin health, structure and hydration. Skinboosters, another type of dermal filler, is a good choice to restore and improve skin hydration. With skinboosters, microscopic amounts of hyaluronic acid gel are deposited below the skin surface to give long-lasting hydration and improvement of skin radiance.[3,4,5,6] Another excellent option is injections that stimulate the formation of collagen, which otherwise decreases with age. An increased amount of collagen makes your skin firmer and more flexible.

Personalize and perfect your own beauty

The use of aesthetic treatments is increasing every year. As injectable treatments are not permanent, they give you the flexibility and ability to fine tune and perfect your features in a natural and easy way, which surgery is unable to offer. In addition, you will be able to adjust your treatment as you age. Some areas of the face might still need surgery, such as loose skin around the eyes. But, to quote Dr. Steven Weiner: “I think that we are going to get in an age where surgery is going to become much less needed, even face lifts, because we can keep up with the technology and advancements.”



1 Finn CJ et al. Dermatol Surg 2003;29(5):450–455.; Matsubara et al. Skin Res Technol 2012;18(1):29–35
2 Finn CJ et al. Dermatol Surg 2003;29(5):450–455
3 Gubanova EI et al. Poster presented at IMCAS 2015
4 Distante F et al. Dermatol Surg 2009;35(S1):389–93
5 Gubanova EI et al. J Drugs Dermatol 2015;14(3):288–98
6 Lee BM et al. Arch Plast Surg 2015;42(3):282–287.