Botox vs. Dermal Fillers (What’s the Difference?)

Sorting through Cosmetic Procedures so You Don’t Have to.

Although botox injections and dermal fillers are both nonsurgical and cosmetic procedures, they are quite different from each other — varying in results, side effects, and techniques.

In this post, we will help you decide which procedure may be right for you by discussing:

  • What is Botox and how is it used?
  • What are Dermal Fillers and how are they used?
  • What are the side effects of both?
  • And how to decide between the two.

What is Botox?

The word Botox originates from the drug’s original state, Botulinum Toxin. Although Botox is made from a toxin, there is little to no risk of being poisoned (known as Botulism) when receiving botox injections. In small doses, the toxin can actually treat certain health issues and beautify the body.

When botox is injected, nerve signals are blocked and the muscles become temporarily paralyzed, tightening the skin.

Who can Benefit from Botox?

Cosmetic uses of botox injections include correcting:

  • Forehead Lines
  • Glabella/Frown Lines
  • Crow’s Feet (Lateral Orbital Lines)
  • Bunny Lines (Transverse Nasal)
  • Peri-oral Lines
  • Marionette Lines

Procedures such as Brow Lifts and Botox conditioners for hair are also common fixes.

A young woman lays on a white towel and receives botox injections.
Botox injections require a minimum recovery time of one day. Image courtesy of Raleigh Capitol.

Medical uses of botox injections include:

  • Botox for Migraines
  • Botox for TMJ
  • Botox for Hyperhydrosis (Excessive Sweating)

For more information check out Botox and Its Uses.

Side Effects

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons deems botox injections safe and supports the claim that side effects are either rare or temporary. Still, you should look out for these side effects after having botox done:

  • Bruising at the injection site
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Redness
  • Temporary facial weakness or drooping

Although unlikely, report back to your doctor if you are having a tough time breathing, swallowing, or experiencing slurred speech.

It is also recommended that you do not rub or massage the treated areas directly after — this may cause the botulinum toxin to spread to other parts of the body.

What are Dermal Fillers?

Dermal Fillers are gel-like substances that can be injected underneath the skin for volume restoration, smoothness, and facial contour.

According to the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery, dermal fillers can be made up of several materials:

  • Hyaluronic Acid (HA)
  • Calcium Hydroxylapatite (CaHA)
  • Poly-L-lactic Acid
  • Polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA)
  • Autologous fat injections

Dermal fillers have been known to last anywhere from six months to two years.

A diagram of a woman shows common places to receive dermal fillers.
Dermal fillers can be combined with botox treatments. Image courtesy of Medical Spa.

Why use Dermal Fillers?

Dermal Fillers have been used by millions of Americans to:

  • Plump thinning lips
  • Contour areas on the face
  • Decrease or remove wrinkles under the eyes
  • Soften Scars
  • Remove wrinkles around the mouth and cheeks

Side Effects

If done correctly, you should have no problem with your Dermal Fillers — this is why finding the right doctor or dentist is extremely important. Despite this, there are still side effects to the non-surgical procedure.

Common side effects:

  • Bruising or pain in the injection site
  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Itching

Less common side effects include:

  • Infection
  • Discoloration
  • Lumps beneath the skin

Rare, but much more concerning side effects include:

  • Scarring
  • Blurred vision, partial vision loss, blindness
  • Anaphylactic shock

If any of these side effects occur within two weeks to a year later, contact your healthcare provider for help.

How do I decide?


Both Botox and Dermal Fillers are successful at achieving what they set out to do — it really just depends what you are looking for. Botox is a more temporary fix for wrinkles, lifts, and lines while Dermal Fillers can last longer, but they are for just that — filling.

If you wish to rid yourself of easy-to-spot wrinkles, Botox is probably best for you.

A before and after picture of a woman who received botox on her forehead.
Botox is meant to be used by those 18 and older. Image courtesy of Dermatology of Seattle.

On the other hand, fillers erase even the deepest of wrinkles or scars.

A before and after picture of an older man who received dermal fillers in his cheek.
Cosmetic procedures like Dermal Filler injections have been known to boost self-confidence. Image courtesy of La Belle Vie.


Each non-surgical procedure comes with its own side effects. No matter how rare, there is still always a risk.

Botox injections have less serious side effects, but they also do not last as long or reach as deep as Dermal Fillers.

According to a recent study, only one percent of patients develop side effects — which are usually minimal and harmless. Therefore, whichever side effects you choose to face should depend on your desired results.

(Do not undergo either procedure if you are pregnant or breastfeeding).


Ultimately, the costs of these procedures depend on your healthcare provider. But, here are some of the average pricings.

Botox is priced per unit (practitioners commonly inject anywhere from eight to 20 units into the forehead area). Usually, a unit is between $10 and $15. If you receive the maximum amount of units and are planning to get injections in other areas of the face, you may be paying anywhere from $400 to $600.

Dermal Fillers are a bit trickier to estimate because the price depends on the type of filler used and the injection site. Much like Botox is priced per unit, fillers are priced by syringe.

Here are some Dermal Filler price estimations by the American Society of Plastic surgeons:

  • Calcium hydroxylapatite: $691
  • Fat grafting: $2,126
  • Hyaluronic acid (e.g., (Juvederm Ultra, Juvederm Ultra Plus, Perlane, Restylane, Belotero): $682
  • Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP): $683
  • Polylactic acid (e.g., Sculptra): $915
  • Polymethyl-methacrylate microspheres (e.g., Artefill): $889

The best way to know what you’ll pay is through an in-person healthcare consultation.

Deciding between procedures is never easy but hopefully, this post has you started on the right track. Botox and Dermal Filler may be used interchangeably in everyday jargon but when you do some research, you’ll find they differ in more ways than one. Consider the steps and risks you are willing to take for the results that you know you’ll love.

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