The closest we may ever get to finding the fountain of youth is discovering a syringe full of dermal filler. Just a few quick jabs can transform the look of your face by filling in wrinkles and delivering volume where it’s most needed. Essentially, filler plumps and smoothes features wherever you desire. Once you're considering getting dermal filler, you have a few options to choose from, and Radiesse is one of the most popular. The FDA-approved injectable filler is a soft tissue filler that can also be used for facial augmentation. And you know how they say that hands are a dead giveaway of your actual age? It’s approved for use in the hands, too.
Thinking it all sounds too good to be true? The results are pretty impressive, though they are fleeting—eventually, Radiesse, like most other types of fillers, absorbs into the body, so its effects are temporary. But for those ready for the upkeep, the transformative result you'll get can be well worth it. To get the full scoop on Radiesse, we spoke to dermatologists Dr. Dendy Engelman and Dr. Blair Murphy-Rose, who break down everything there is to know before you schedule an appointment.
Meet the Expert
What Is Radiesse?
“Radiesse is an injectable dermal filler used to treat certain areas of the face and hands,” Dr. Engelman explains. “This treatment works by stimulating the body’s natural collagen, filling in wrinkles, and aiding your skin in developing new collagen in the process. Its main purpose is to treat wrinkles and folds around the mouth and nose, as well as various areas of fat loss in the face.”
Radiesse is made of calcium hydroxylapatite gel microspheres, and elements in the gel help to create a structure that mimics connective tissue, says Dr. Murphy-Rose. “It has a firmer viscosity so may be chosen for deeper furrows and to augment or replace volume loss to areas like the cheekbones, jawline, and chin,” she explains.
Benefits of Radiesse
While patients' goals with dermal fillers like Radiesse may vary, you'll find overall, the treatment is most commonly used to address facial texture and structure. A few of Radiesse's benefits are as follows:
· Used to fill specific areas of the face and hands, mainly around the mouth and jawline, and the back of hands where volume has been lost
· Can help to re-contour the nose, cheeks, and jawline
“Radiesse is FDA-approved to improve the appearance of moderate to severe facial wrinkles and folds, including the nasolabial folds,” says Dr. Murphy-Rose.
How to Prepare for Radiesse
“Preparation is quick and easy,” Dr. Engelman says. “One week before your appointment, avoid using skincare products with retinol, taking blood-thinning medications like aspirin, and any other cosmetic treatments or ingredients that could irritate the skin.”
In addition to aspirin, ibuprofen can also increase your risk of bruising prior to treatment, so avoid taking that as well, cautions Dr. Murphy-Rose. You should also avoid certain supplements, including vitamin E, gingko biloba, and St. John’s wort, and it’s best to steer clear of alcohol, too. “Discuss with your physician any medications or supplements you take prior to treatment,” she adds.
What to Expect During a Radiesse Treatment
“After consultation with your injector to discuss your aesthetic goals and decide together on a treatment plan, your skin will be prepped for the procedure,” Dr. Murphy-Rose says. “Often, a topical numbing cream will be applied to the treatment area with or without use of numbing injections depending on the technique used. Your skin will be cleansed with a topical antiseptic before injections. The anesthetic typically reduces pain to minimal discomfort if any. Many people report a sensation of pressure but not pain with the injections.”
Though it depends on how many areas are treated, the actual injections are quick and only take about five to 10 minutes. “Each injection may cause a small amount of pain or discomfort when the needle is inserted, but there should be very little pain or discomfort after that,” Dr. Engelman says. “After the procedure, you can go home immediately without any downtime.”
Radiesse vs. Juvederm
Radiesse and Juvederm are two of the most popular dermal fillers. Specifically, Radiesse is comparable to Juvederm Voluma. “The major difference is the composition of the fillers,” Dr. Murphy-Rose says. “Radiesse is calcium-based and does not occur naturally in the body, though it has a similar composition to bones and teeth. The most important difference is that Radiesse cannot be dissolved or reversed the way that hyaluronic acid-based fillers can, so it has increased risks compared to hyaluronic acid fillers."
Compared to other fillers in the US market, Radiesse is known to be one of the longest-lasting fillers, according to Dr. Engelman. “While others are made for more mild aging skin concerns, Radiesse is more effective at targeting severe volume loss and wrinkles,” she says.
Another thing to note is that Radiesse is radiopaque, meaning it's visible on x-rays unlike hyaluronic acid fillers, explains Dr. Murphy-Rose.
Potential Side Effects
Potential side effects of Radiesse include temporary bruising, swelling, redness, itch and discomfort from the injection, allergic reaction, infection, and lumps or nodules, as well as an undesirable cosmetic outcome, warns Dr. Murphy-Rose. “Other serious and rare side effects are possible,” she says. “It is imperative to seek treatment with a board-certified and highly experienced injector to minimize potential side effects.”
As mentioned earlier, review OTC medications and supplements with your doctor before treatment to minimize the risk of bruising and other side effects. “If you feel discomfort or discover bruising after the procedure, I recommend taking an over-the-counter medicine to alleviate the pain,” Dr. Engelman says. “If swelling does occur, it should go down in no more than 72 hours.”
To reduce bruising and swelling after treatment, Dr. Murphy-Rose says you can apply ice—but be careful not to burn the skin that may still be numbed from anesthetic. Dietary supplements like arnica and bromelain can also help, but check with your doctor prior to starting any supplements.
Though it’s rare, you may also temporarily experience sensation loss and difficulty with normal movement. “If filler is injected into a blood vessel, it can cause occlusion of the blood vessel and severe side effects, including tissue necrosis and even very rarely, blindness,” Dr. Murphy-Rose says. “Radiesse cannot be immediately dissolved the way that hyaluronic acid filler can be to reverse an occlusion.”
It’s hard to estimate the cost of Radiesse treatment until you complete your first consultation, since the dosage and full treatment varies from patient to patient. “The cost depends on the treatment area and amount of filler needed, as well as injector experience,” Dr. Murphy-Rose says. “You can expect to pay about $800 to $1,400 per 1.5mL syringe.”
“There is little post-treatment care,” Dr. Engelman says. “For the first 24 hours after treatment, I recommend avoiding sunlight or excessive heat, and not partaking in any strenuous activities or exercise.”
To play it safe, Dr. Murphy-Rose recommends avoiding heavy exercise in the first couple of days after treatment, and be sure to follow your physician’s aftercare instructions carefully. “I always recommend avoiding pressure to treated areas for the first 48 hours, so sleeping on one’s back, and avoiding massages or facials is advisable,” she adds.
The Final Takeaway
One of the perks of Radiesse is it doesn’t take long at all to see the results. “You will likely start seeing an improvement in your skin’s volume on the day of your procedure,” Dr. Engelman says. “Full results will generally be visible about one week after your treatment. It is possible that your results will get better with time, up to as long as six months, as your body metabolizes the filler gel. Results last 18 to 24 months, so make sure to schedule a maintenance appointment according to how your body reacts to the filler over time.”
Another benefit of Radiesse is that it “stimulates collagen production for extended benefits that persist after the body has broken down the filler itself,” Dr. Murphy-Rose says. It’s the filler that keeps on giving.