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BOTOX vs Fillers: What’s the Difference?

Many people assume that BOTOX and fillers are the same. While they both consist of injections, though, they work in completely different ways. So, what’s the difference between BOTOX and fillers exactly?

What Is BOTOX?

BOTOX is a proprietary formula of botulinum toxin (BTX), known as onabotulinumtoxinA, developed by the Irish pharmaceutical company Allergan. It’s used for a variety of cosmetic, as well as medical, purposes. BOTOX is injected locally into muscle tissue to stimulate relaxation. As the BOTOX enters muscle tissue, it blocks neurological signals to the respective muscles. In turn, the muscles relax.

BTX is essentially a toxin that’s produced naturally by Clostridium botulinum bacterium. While there are other formulas of BTX available on the market, BOTOX uses a special formula that’s not found elsewhere. As a result, it’s become one of the most popular cosmetic procedures in the United States. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), in fact, says 7 million BOTOX injections were performed in 2018, making it the most popular minimally invasive cosmetic procedure for that year.

The muscle-relaxing effects of BTX were first discovered in 1820 by German medical doctor Justinus Kerner. After conducting a series of tests on himself, as well as animals, Kerner found that BTX interrupted neurological systems to muscle tissue without any adverse effects on sensory signals. With that said, the BOTOX brand of BTX didn’t appear until many years. In 1977, BOTOX received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of strabismus. Strabismus is a vision condition that’s characterized by the misalignment of the eyes. People who suffer from strabismus struggle to focus their eyes in the same direction. BOTOX has been found effective at treating this vision condition because it’s able to force a person’s eye muscles to relax.

The Basics of BOTOX and How It Works

BOTOX works by temporarily blocking neurological signals to the muscle tissues in which the BTX is injected. Muscle tissue consists of many small and intertwined fibers. When you flex a muscle, the fibers in that muscle will tighten. When you relax a muscle, the fibers will loosen. The transition from muscle contraction to relaxation (and vise versa) is performed via neurological signals. In other words, your brain tells the muscle to flex or relax. The neurological signals are sent to the muscle, at which point the muscle responds with the appropriate action.

BOTOX leverages the signal-blocking properties of BTX to stimulate relaxation in muscles. During the procedure, BOTOX will be injected into the problematic muscle tissue. It’s a relatively fast that takes just 20 minutes on average while causing minimal pain. For added pain relief, an anesthetic cream can be used to numb the skin. Once injected into muscle tissue, BOTOX will begin to block neurological signals to the respective muscles. You may notice a slight improvement immediately after receiving the injections, but it typically takes several weeks to see the complete results of BOTOX.

BOTOX is frequently used for the following applications:

  • Crows feet
  • Wrinkles
  • Fine lines
  • Excessive sweating
  • Temporomandibular joints (TMJ) disorders

What Is a Filler?

Also known as a dermal filler, a filler is a type of injection that, as the name suggests, is used to fill the skin. Although there are several types of fillers, most of them contain hyaluronic acid as the primary active ingredient. Fillers are injected into the skin, at which point the hyaluronic acid fills voided or open areas.

Hyaluronic acid is a safe, nontoxic substance that occurs naturally in the body. It’s responsible for keeping skin moist as well as lubricated. Fillers leverage the properties of hyaluronic acid to promote healthier, younger-looking skin. When hyaluronic acid is injected into your skin, it will fill the surrounding area, thereby making your skin more voluminous.

While BOTOX is injected into muscle tissue, fillers are injected into skin tissue. This is because BOTOX is designed to block neurological signals to the muscles in which it’s injected. In comparison, fillers are designed to make skin more voluminous by filling it with a substance such as hyaluronic acid.

The Basics of Fillers and How They Work

Fillers work to increase the volume of skin by adding hyaluronic acid — as well as other ingredients, depending on the type of filler — to it. The volume of our skin is largely attributed to its subcutaneous fat. Unfortunately, our skin loses its subcutaneous fat with age. As you grow older, your skin will have less subcutaneous fat. Without the presence of this underlying layer of fat, your skin may look and feel thinner. Fillers can help restore the volume of your skin by filling it with hyaluronic acid.

Unlike BOTOX, fillers don’t block or otherwise restrict neurological activity to the tissue in which they are injected. Rather, fillers simply increase the volume of skin. You can still contract your muscles; fillers only expand and fill your skin.

It’s important to note that while hyaluronic acid is the most popular type of filler, there are other fillers from which you can choose. Calcium hydroxylapatite (CaHA), for example, has become a popular alternative to hyaluronic acid. It has a harder consistency than its hyaluronic acid. More importantly, CaHA stimulates the production of collagen. When CaHA is injected into your skin, it will trigger a response in which your body produces more collagen in the affected area.

Other fillers on the market use polylactic acid (PLA) as the main active ingredient. PLA is a unique type of filler because of its synthetic makeup. It doesn’t occur naturally in the human body. Instead, PLA is a man-made substance that’s commercially produced in laboratories. Like other types of fillers, though, it’s able to increase the volume of your skin by filling voided and open areas. Finally, Polymethyl-methacrylate microspheres (PMMA) is a filler ingredient that offers particularly long-lasting results. No filler offers permanent results. Nonetheless, PMMA fillers typically offer plump and voluminous skin for a longer length of time than its counterparts. There are subtle nuances between the different types of fillers, but they all work by filling the skin.

Fillers are frequently used for the following applications:

  • Plumper skin
  • Smoother skin
  • Minimize the appearance of wrinkles
  • Improved skin complexion

What’s the Difference Between BOTOX and Fillers?

It’s a common assumption that BOTOX and fillers are the same. Aside from both being injections, there aren’t many similarities between BOTOX and fillers. BOTOX is a brand of BTX that’s injected into muscle tissue to temporarily block neurological signals to the respective muscles, whereas fillers are injections that promote more voluminous skin.

With BOTOX, a formula of BTX will be injected into your muscle tissue, thus causing the muscles to relax. With fillers, a safe and nontoxic “filler” substance like hyaluronic acid will be injected into your skin, thus making your skin more voluminous. As you can see, they are different cosmetic procedures that work in completely different ways.

Neither BOTOX nor fillers are permanent. They both offer temporary results. With that said, BOTOX and fillers can both help you achieve healthier, younger-looking skin. After reading this, you should have a better understanding of the differences between BOTOX and fillers?

Want to learn more about BOTOX or fillers? Request a free consultation today!