Originally published August 31, 2017. Updated on May 3, 2021 with additional information
Injectable products like Botox and dermal fillers are a great way to reverse common signs of aging. However, the effects of fillers and neurotoxins, while long-lasting, do eventually wear off as they are naturally degraded by the body.
Depending on the type of injectable used, the positive results of an injectable treatment can last anywhere from 6 months to 2 years (see our dermal filler guide to compare the average longevity of various types of fillers). These injectable skin care solutions are made of natural substances that are eventually reabsorbed by the body.
Want to make your Botox or dermal filler last longer? Here’s how you can you can achieve maximum results and extend them for the longest period possible.
What Causes Botox and Dermal Fillers Results to Fade?
Neurotoxins (Botox, Dysport and Xeomin) are derived from botulinum toxin, which might sound scary, but is a natural substance produced by a bacteria. Dermal fillers also contain ingredients found in nature, such as collagen and hyaluronic acid. These substances don’t stay in place forever, separate from your body, but eventually become reabsorbed. The rate at which this happens is different for everyone, and it depends on a few things:
Location of the Injection
Injectables such as toxin or filler wear off more quickly in areas of the face that are more active. Neurotoxins do not last as long with very strong muscles (think scowl, forehead and around the eyes for some people) and will last longer in thinner muscles and less mobile areas.
From a filler standpoint, your face is most active around the mouth and lips. Filler placed deep in your cheeks or in the tear troughs often can last longer because they are placed on bone, underneath muscles.
Dosage of the Injection
It may seem like common sense, but small dose injections will dissipate more quickly than larger doses. Areas that require multiple injections placed closely together will also retain the injectables longer.
The Type of Neurotoxin or Filler
Fillers have multiple properties so are used to achieve different effects (filling fine lines vs _ bone) and therefor have to be designed differently to integrate into the appropriate tissue for the desired result. Depending on the filler used, it will be reabsorbed at different rates, anywhere from 4 months up to 2 years. Neurotoxins are all the same toxin, however have different (or no) proteins surrounding the toxin. Some people (for unknown reasons) metabolize different brands of neurotoxin more quickly. If this occurs, you might want to try a different brand or switch it around every so often.
External factors that prevent results from lasting longer include UV radiation and air pollution. Skin damage from free radicals can accelerate skin aging and diminish the results for Botox or fillers. Products that you put on the areas of injections can also play a big role.
Your Unique Body
Everyone processes proteins differently. Genetic factors and even your age will influence the rate at which your injectables dissipate. Often very active, athletic people will metabolize both toxin and filler more quickly, but don’t use that as an excuse to stop!
Ways To Make Botox And Filler Results Last Longer
Unfortunately there’s no way to make them last forever, but there are things you can do to extend the results of fillers and neurotoxins. Here’s why results fade and what you can do to extend the effects of injectables between touch-up visits:
Immediately After Your Neurotoxin Injection
While massage or pressure directly on the injection site is not recommended, gentle movement can help. Immediately after your injection, do some gentle facial exercises to help the toxin spread and evenly distribute. This not only helps Botox work faster, but can prolong your results.
Within 24 Hours of Your Injection
With either toxin or fillers, refrain from touching your face or putting pressure on the treatment site for at least 24 hours. Avoid rubbing when you wash your face, and stay away from exfoliation. This helps keep the product in place by preventing the drugs from dissipating away from the treatment site. With fillers, you want to try to avoid sleeping on that area of your face for at least 1-2 days.
1. Stay Hydrated
Hydration not only keeps wrinkles at bay, but helps maintain your injections. In addition to drinking water, hydrate your skin with topical treatments. Choose a moisturizer with hyaluronic acid to reduce inflammation and slow the process with which your body breaks down your injectables.
2. Practice Good Skin Care
The benefits of injectables (like many other cosmetic treatments) will last longer for individuals who properly take care of their skin. Patients who moisturize daily and stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water will enhance the water-absorption effect of hyaluronic-based fillers, helping treated areas remain plump and wrinkle-free! There are a few products that were designed as an adjunct to toxins and fillers as well. Examples include Skin Better Treatment Lines, which helps maintain hyaluronic acid in areas and Revision Revox 7, which helps relax fine muscles to make your toxin last longer.
In addition to moisturizing, choose skincare ingredients that stimulate collagen production and protect your skin from free radicals. A stronger skin structure helps prolong the effects of toxin or dermal fillers. Antioxidants like Vitamin C also protect against damage from sun and pollution.
Look for collagen-boosting ingredients such as retinol or collagen peptides. You’ll find these ingredients in moisturizers, cleansers and serums.
3. Avoid UV Exposure
Did you know that overexposure to the sun’s UV rays can actually reverse the benefits of your injectable treatment? This is why we encourage all filler patients to practice sound sun protection, especially post-treatment. Maintain your results for longer by using a high-quality broad-spectrum sunscreen, avoiding the outdoors during peak UV hours, and wearing a wide-brimmed hat.
A sunscreen containing Vitamin C can help protect you from the sun, as will avoiding sun exposure. The damage caused by UV light leads to inflammation. As your skin tries to heal itself, your Botox and fillers will also be broken down.
Blue light is not UV light, but exposure to screens also has a detrimental effect on your skin cells. Purchase a blue-light screen filter or turn down the brightness of your screens.
4. Eat Right
The food you eat can directly affect both the appearance and health of your skin. In terms of maximizing the results of your filler we encourage patients to stay away from processed and packaged foods, as well as limiting the amount of sugar in your diet. Increased inflammation caused by these foods in your body is translated to your overall skin health.
5. Take Extra Zinc
Some studies have shown that Botox efficacy is linked to zinc levels within the body. Also, many individuals tend to have a slight zinc deficiency. Regularly taking a zinc supplement after your Botox treatment may prolong the anti-aging effects.
6. Stay Stress-Free
Stress is a common factor of day-to-day life. Whether stemming from your career, relationship, or finances, stress can negatively affect the body in many ways. In terms of the skin, high stress levels release of cortisol and other hormones which accelerate the aging process and rapidly enhance common unwanted signs of aging. To extend the benefits of your injectable try to reduce unnecessary stress-inducers form your life while incorporating stress relief techniques like meditation or yoga into your day.
Why Choosing A Skilled Injector Is Important
The best way to lengthen time between appointments is to choose a board-certified, experienced injector. Appropriate dosing and precise injections lead to longer-lasting results. An experienced, skilled injector may cost you more up front, but it will pay for itself in results you love and less frequent touch-up visits.
Beware of Exercise Effects
Unfortunately, people that are avid workout-aholics may go through toxin and filler more quickly. There is no “fix” for this (and please don’t stop being active) but if you take precautions to not squint or scowl while working out (easier said than done) then you might not have as bad of an effect. One easy attempt is to wear hats or sunglasses while outside to avoid the strain of the bright sun.
Maintenance Sessions: What About Touch-Ups?
Maintenance appointments are recommended to help your injectables last longer. The best way to extend the life of your Botox or filler results is to regularly undergo “maintenance” treatments before your results wear off. Recurrent treatments are especially useful for Botox as they may actually train targeted muscles respond to the neurotoxin for longer periods of time.
A touch-up session is a quick, less-expensive appointment in which your doctor re-injects a smaller amount of toxin or filler. This is often not recommended for neurotoxins but can be useful for filler at times. Make sure to discuss a maintenance plan with your injector prior to undergoing treatment.