Korean fillers are breaking through the beauty community year by year and going on to compete globally with international brands. The treatment of getting fillers itself is getting more and more popular as people realise the many uses for them. Whether that is correcting facial features that someone is dissatisfied with like nose, or getting fillers for wrinkles and loss in facial volume. However many are still confused about how the fillers work and what is the difference between Korean filler brands and 'imported' filler brands. The imported filler brands discussed are from countries outside of Korea, mainly the USA where the treatment was first made popular.
How do fillers work?
The majority of the fillers discussed here will be Hyaluronic acid based fillers. This is an acid that is found in our body already and is what holds the moisture in the body. Majority of the filler use this because it will be readily accepted by the body and Hyaluronic acid can be broken down or dissolved easily so if the final results are dissatisfying then the treatment can be undone.
However Hyaluronic acid cannot be directly injected in the skin because it will dissolve or spread. So the hyaluronic acid is processed to be thicker and different brands do this process differently. Some brands make thicker fillers while others make thinner based on where that filler will be used and some brands have different structures for the fillers. For most fillers, the manufacturing process is mixing the ingredients, reacting them, blending, washing and sterilising. Most brands make changes in the mixing and reaction stages to form the product.
The two main structures made in the reaction stage are monophasic and biphasic. Monophasic is when there are cross links formed between hyaluronic acid chains which makes a gel like structure. Biphasic structure is when the Hyaluronic acid is made to be gel like and have free particles as well. This type of structure is not as smooth as monophasic but gives more volume.
Restylene = This is probably the most well known filler globally and is certainly the oldest. An American based and FDA approved brand, it is a hyaluronic acid based filler which is biphasic and is used to give volume in many areas of the face. It has sub brands which change the structure slightly so it suits the area more such as an under eye filler vs nose filler.
Juvederm = This is another popular brand internationally. It has a monophasic structure which makes it gel like and spreads out smoothly under the skin so is used to treat wrinkles and facial lines. It doesn't give a lot of volume because of its structure.
Ellanse = This is a french based filler brand that is not Hyaluronic acid. It mainly uses an ingredient called Poly-Caprolactone (PCL) which is held in a gel carrier. This carrier gives the immediate lifting effect but lasts only 12 weeks, after which the PCL starts to stimulate the skin tissue to produce collagen. This gives the final lifted result and can last up to 2 years which is more than other fillers.
Sculptra = Another popular filler that doesn't use hyaluronic acid and uses poly-L-lactic acid (PLLA). This ingredient works similarly to Ellanse, as it also stimulates collagen and gives similar results of lifting. However there is more after care needed for it than Ellanse as you need to massage the treated area as directed by your doctor 5 times a day for 5 days after the treatment.
All the popularly used Korean fillers are Hyaluronic based but are made to be different during the manufacturing process
Yvoire = One of the most popular Korean brand, it uses Hyaluronic acid that has a higher weight which needs special equipment to handle in the mixing part of the process. This makes a very concentrated mixture of hyaluronic acid which means the hyaluronic molecules are close together and can make more cross links. This makes for a more stable biphasic structure and filler.
Elravie = This filler has a monophasic structure that uses a high weighted Hyaluronic acid. It uses special technology to make sure only cross linked hyaluronic acid is in the gel which makes it more viscous or thicker. This means the filler doesn't spread easily and the shape stays more defined.
Cleviel = Famous as a specialised nose filler because of how viscous it is which is done by using a purer version of hyaluronic acid that has impurities and toxins taken out. This means there are more cross links that form and so the structure is thicker and more stable.
Tissuefill = This filler combines hyaluronic acid and PRP (Plasma Rich Platelets). The filler injection is injected as usual but the PRP continues the effect for long term. The PRP is taken from the client's own blood and then mixed with the filler. Once injected in the skin tissues, the growth factors in the PRP begin stimulating the collagen in the injected area, similar to Ellanse and Sculptra. This post on our blog explains this filler in detail.
Neuramis = This is a hyaluronic filler that uses a special type of technique called SHAPE technology. This uses a 2 step cross-linking which means the reaction step of the procedure takes place twice so more cross links are formed and, again, a more stable gel is formed.
Why are Korean Fillers cheaper?
When comparing fillers, often the price plays a huge factor when deciding which one. Firstly, there is a myth that the more expensive the filler, the better quality it is. Korean branded fillers tend to be cheaper than American based ones in Korea mainly because the American filler has to be imported in to Korea by clinics. Furthermore the frequency of the filler treatment in Korea means there are more clinics offering the treatment in a smaller area and there is more competition to appeal to the customers. This lowers the rates and is better for the consumer.
Then how do you select the right filler?
So setting price aside, what makes Korean and imported fillers different and which is better? This will depend on what you value for your treatment.
If you value a brand that has been around for longer and has a had a strong global recognition for longer then imported brands like Juvederm and Restylene, which are hyaluronic acid based, will be better options of you. This may also be important because notable brands like this that have been around for longer have been used more and the techniques for using them have been perfected by the doctors that use them. So the results are better guaranteed and the person feels more safe getting the treatment.
However if this is the case then brands like Yvoire, Neuramis and Elravie may be good options as well because the number of filler treatments carried out in Korea is a lot. Therefore doctors constantly get more experience using the above brands and can perfect the technique as well.
The second factor is what results you want. If you would like more volume to correct wrinkles and bring firmness to the face or if you are doing it to correct the shape of a facial feature like nose or lips. For this factor, imported or Korean doesn't matter but the structure of the filler. Generally for plumping and adding volume you would use a biphasic filler such as restylene and the Korean filler Yvoire.
For fillers in areas that are more stiff such as your nose you would need to use a filler that has more viscosity/thickness so this would be the Korean brands Neuramis, Elravie and Cleviel. This is for Hyaluronic filler which is already found in the body and can be easily dissolved if you are not satisfied with the results. but if you prefer fillers from other materials then other options are Ellanse and Sculptra.
The duration of the effects of fillers varies depending on the filler. Most hyaluronic fillers last from 6 to 8 months maximum, regardless if it is imported or Korean. However if you want long lasting fillers then Ellanse, Sculptra and Tissuefill will be better options. All three stimulate collagen which makes the effect more permanent as your skin adapts to the new shape.