Any procedure that enhances the volume of the face or body falls within the sphere of volume augmentation. Volume augmentation is possible through both surgical and non-surgical procedures. Methods of volumising include implants, flaps, fat transfer and injectable fillers.
Implants are used to add greater volume to breasts, buttocks, the pectoral area (in men), calves, biceps and triceps. The two types of implants in popular use are made of silicone or saline.
Flaps are parts of soft tissue moved to or grafted onto an area that needs enhancement. Flaps may be used as an alternative to implants during breast reconstruction or breast augmentation surgery.
Fat transfer uses liposuction to remove fat taken from an area with excess fatty tissue (such as the stomach, thighs, buttocks, hips, neck, arms or knees). This fat is purified and then injected into areas that need volumising. Fat transfers have been effectively used to augment breasts, chin, cheeks and lips. Fat transfer is used on its own or in combination with other volumising techniques.
Injectable soft-tissue fillers are a very popular, non-surgical method of volumising chin, cheeks, nose and lips. Fillers come in a variety of types and may contain collagen, hyaluronic acid and other substances including some that make use of microsphere technology. Injectable fillers help smooth fine lines and erase wrinkles on a temporary basis, because of their plumping and volumising effect on the skin.
Which method is best suited to you depends on your features, the level of augmentation you desire, your time frame and your budget. Surgical options require downtime during the post-surgical recovery period. The soft-tissue fillers, on the other hand, only require the time it takes to have them injected.
Soft-tissue fillers are a collection of different types of injectables that can add structure and restore volume to the face. They are useful for treating the wrinkles and larger lines that occur with facial ageing. Soft-tissue fillers can smooth fine lines, augment soft tissue (as in the lips), fill up deep lines (like the nasolabial folds) or augment the facial bone structure.
A number of types of soft-tissue fillers are available in the market. They essentially differ in three ways: their ingredients, how long their effects last and how they feel once injected.
Conventional soft-tissue fillers are based on two compounds naturally found in the body: collagen and hyaluronic acid. More recently developed soft-tissue fillers use microsphere technology and contain, among other ingredients, tiny spheres of solid material.
Usually the very soft fillers that are used in areas like the lips have a shorter effective duration than not-so-soft fillers used in locations like the nasolabial folds. The effects of collagen fillers generally last from three to six months. Hyaluronic acid may last between three months and one year.
The type of soft-tissue filler you need depends on the specific location of injection.