Dermal Fillers vs. Neurotoxins: What’s The Difference?

Facial injections are extremely popular. According to the ASPS (American Society of Plastic Surgeons), there were more than 9 million procedures done in 2015 alone. However, most people are unaware that there are bonafide differences between dermal fillers (like Juvederm) and neurotoxins (like Botox). Both terms are often tossed around when discussing facial injectables that are intended to improve appearance. However, subtle distinctions separate the two from each other. Here’s a breakdown of what each one does and how you should go about getting one. 

Dermal Fillers

Dermal fillers work to plump up the area of skin suffering from volume loss. They work by filling in static hollowness or lines that are present at all times, even when facial muscles are unused. Dermal fillers are a gel like substance consisting of naturally occurring hyaluronic acid. The intention of dermal fillers is to provide a naturally relaxed look while compensating for areas of your face suffering from volume loss. Dermal fillers can also be used to stimulate the natural collagen that already resides in your skin.assortment of dermal fillers and neurotoxins

One of the biggest benefits of a dermal filler is that the injection process will only take approximately 30 minutes, depending on which filler you choose and which area it is injected into. FDA approved fillers involve minimal risk to the patient and post-procedure downtime can be considered little to none. The best part? You should see the results immediately after the injection!

One injection of a dermal filler can improve your appearance for several months at a time. Meaning that after your first visit, you should only need to receive a touch up once a year. Here’s a quick rundown of what a dermal filler can accomplish for your appearance:

  • Adding volume to your lips
  • Filling in hollow areas of your face
  • Removing or decreasing under eye shadows and/or bags
  • Soften scars
  • Add volume to your face in an effort to fill in wrinkles and fine lines


a close up of needles used to inject botoxNeurotoxins, like Botox, are injected into the skin in order to relax the muscles that cause wrinkles and fine lines to form. While Botox is the most commonly known neurotoxin other commercial products, like Xeomin and Dysport, are popular as well. The results from a neurotoxin injection generally last 3 to 4 months. They are considered a “lunch time” procedure, meaning that they can be administered in 15-30 minutes. While neurotoxins are popular in the cosmetic field, they may be used to treat a variety of medical issues, such as:

  • Excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis)
  • Lazy eye
  • Muscle contractures
  • Chronic migraines
  • Bladder and bowel dysfunction

So What’s The Difference?

Although dermal fillers and neurotoxins may seem interchangeable, key differences exist and should be taken into consideration when deciding between them. The main differences are:

  • How they work: Neurotoxins, like Botox, freeze the muscles that cause wrinkles and other lines to form on the face. These muscles are involved in forming facial expressions. When these muscles are frozen, they are not used, resulting in the relaxation of expression lines in the surrounding areas. This is different than the static lines or hollowness that dermal fillers help. Dermal fillers use hyaluronic acid to plump up areas that have suffered from a loss of volume and fullness. When these areas are filled up, a smooth look is restored.
  • Where they are administered: Neurotoxins are typically injected into the upper half of the face, with a few exceptions. Around the eyes and the forehead are popular areas for injection. This is because these areas consist heavily of muscles that work to create facial expressions. Dermal fillers are injected into both the upper and lower half of the face. Around the mouth,  lips, cheeks, and eyes are areas that typically suffer from volume loss as you get older.
  • How long they last: The results of a neurotoxin injection will last approximately 3 to 4 months. On the other hand, you can expect the results of a dermal filler to last around 10-12 months. Both timeframes will vary depending on what type of filler or neurotoxin is used.

Which One Should I Get?

Different fillers do different things. The same applies to neurotoxins. Here’s a breakdown of the most popular fillers and neurotoxins we offer.

  • Juvederm: Juvederm is a widely used, FDA approved, dermal filler. Its main ingredient is hyaluronic acid, a natural substance that delivers volume to the injected areas. Juvederm is generally used to restore volume to the cheeks and lips, as well as to smooth out wrinkles and other fine lines in the skin. A treatment session will typically last 20-40 minutes.
  • Restylane: Restylane is a dermal filler that restores volume to the skin. It is used to correct moderate to severe facial wrinkles and folds. Restylane is particularly used when correcting nasolabial folds and marionette lines.
  • Restylane Silk: Restylane Silk is an FDA approved dermal filler that is specifically designed to enhance the volume of the lips and smooth wrinkles around the mouth. It utilizes smaller and smoother than normal hyaluronic acid particles to achieve aesthetic goals.
  • Botox: Botox is the first neurotoxin to be FDA approved. It works to smooth out frown lines, crow’s feet, and forehead lines. You will begin to notice results from a Botox injection around 24-48 hours after treatment. Most patients find that the results of a Botox injection last approximately 3-4 months.
  • Dysport:  Dysport is a neurotoxin that’s approved in 69 countries. Dysport focuses on treating severe frown lines in the forehead and eyebrow area for up to 4 months. Results from a Dysport injection are noticeable just 2-3 days after treatment.
  • Jeuveau: Jeuveau is a purified botulinum toxin type A injection. It was specifically developed for aesthetic treatment and has recently been FDA approved. Jeuveau focuses on improving the look of glabellar lines (frown lines).

Although we do recommend actively researching the difference between neurotoxins and dermal fillers, nothing compares to receiving an in-person consultation from a board certified oculofacial plastic surgeon.

Who Should Administer The Injections?

The best injections will always look natural. The only way to ensure a natural look is to go to a certified professional for your injections. It is extremely important to make sure that you and your physician are on the same page about aesthetic goals before moving forward with the injection. A good physician will make you feel comfortable with your post-injection look before you even come in for treatment.

Here at the VEI Aesthetics Center, we have two oculofacial plastic surgeons that administer injections. You can trust that both of our doctors are board certified and have your aesthetic goals firmly in mind when offering consultation. Contact us today to schedule an appointment!