What Is Radiesse? The Surprising Things the Injectable Filler Can Do


HomeHome / Blog / What Is Radiesse? The Surprising Things the Injectable Filler Can Do

Jan 22, 2024

What Is Radiesse? The Surprising Things the Injectable Filler Can Do

Cosmetic doctors share the uses and benefits of this versatile injectable, from

Cosmetic doctors share the uses and benefits of this versatile injectable, from sculpting and tightening jawlines to smoothing necks, knees, butts, and more.

New uses for cosmetic injectables are, quite literally, moving the needle when it comes to noninvasive options to tackle the most common age-related appearance changes. And though they were once reserved solely for the face, injectables are now treating a variety of skin concerns from head to toe.

One particularly multipurpose injectable, according to cosmetic doctors, is Radiesse, a dermal filler that uses calcium-based microspheres to restore lost volume and reduce the look of wrinkles while also stimulating collagen—the vital protein that keeps skin firm, smooth, and bouncy—for longer-lasting results. When injected under the skin, the gel delivers immediate, visible plumping, then over time, it triggers new collagen production. Wondering how it does this? The gel's hydrogen, carbon, and oxygen form a structure that mimics connective tissue; as the substance gradually breaks down, what's left behind is more of your own natural collagen.

Radiesse is FDA-approved to treat wrinkles and skin folds on the face, contour the jawline, and correct volume loss on the hands. But dermatologists have discovered that Radiesse can also sculpt, smooth, and tighten many other areas of the face and body. We asked two top dermatologists to fill us in (no pun intended) on some of the novel ways Radiesse can work its rejuvenating wonders.

Not all injectable fillers are the same, and what sets Radiesse apart is its sturdy composition, versatility, and long-term collagen-building benefits.

"I think it's a misnomer to label Radiesse as just a filler," says board-certified dermatologist Melissa K. Levin, M.D., a clinical assistant professor of dermatology at New York University Langone and founder of Entière Dermatology. "It addresses skin quality, too, which is a game changer and differentiates it from hyaluronic acid fillers. Radiesse increases collagen and, specifically, elastin, the structural protein responsible for skin bounciness, plus it helps trigger more of your body's natural hyaluronic acid so you have more fullness and volume restoration."

Unlike hyaluronic acid fillers, Radiesse gel is stiffer and has greater viscosity. "Hyaluronic acid injectables are excellent for filling and lifting the skin, but Radiesse is superior for bone recontouring," says Macrene Alexiades, M.D., a board-certified New York City dermatologist and an associate clinical professor of dermatology at the Yale University School of Medicine. "Radiesse is closer to the chemical structure of human bone and yields an impactful, durable result." Need help understanding what bone recontouring means? Think of this filler as scaffolding; it's a strong structure that holds the skin taut. This is why cosmetic experts reach for it when they want to, say, define a jawline.

But the kicker, say doctors, is that Radiesse can also be tinkered with to reduce its viscosity so it can work for other cosmetic goals. "We can dilute the gel with saline in various ratios to make it usable in different parts of the face and body," says Levin. "If I want to volumize and tighten an area, then I’ll dilute it a little. If the patient's skin is very thin, I might dilute it even more. It's such a versatile product that can achieve many different outcomes across a wide range of goals and degrees of skin quality." Radiesse that's been significantly thinned out is known as Hyperdilute Radiesse.

While some patients may worry that diluting the gel makes it less effective, Levin says it's really the opposite: "Diluting Radiesse means you’re dispersing the product more, so you can contour areas more comprehensively." In theory, because Radiesse—which ranges anywhere from $600 to $1,000 per syringe—can be diluted, this could make the treatment slightly more cost-effective than other fillers, since it's possible to get more use out of each vial. But both Alexiades and Levin caution that because doctors choose whether and how to dilute the gel based on each patient's individual goals and the quality of their skin—and because a doctor may inject both Radiesse and a hyaluronic acid filler in the same area depending on the desired outcome—it's not a guaranteed cost-saver.

The injectable has long been used to reduce skin folds around the nose and mouth and to restore plumpness to bony hands. But that's just the tip of the iceberg. Here are some of the latest ways Radiesse can be used on other areas on the face and body.

"Anywhere you want to see more prominent bone structure in the face, Radiesse has excellent contouring capabilities," says Alexiades. Levin adds that doctors can place the gel not just along the cheekbones but below them as well to lift the entire midface.

"Lines around the mouth are notoriously difficult to treat," says Levin. "They’re usually deep and very etched-in, almost like scars. But we’ve found that we can effectively reduce them with Hyperdilute Radiesse."

"I do a lot of Hyperdilute Radiesse on the neck and chest area to treat mild to moderate skin laxity and crepey-ness," says Levin. In one small study, injections of diluted Radiesse stimulated significant amounts of collagen and were very effective at tightening both areas.

"Knees are one of the most common asks that I receive from patients," says Levin. According to RealSelf.com, the knees and elbows typically require one syringe in total (half on each side) and two treatment sessions spaced a month or two apart.

Levin likes to administer Hyperdilute Radiesse directly into cellulite bumps to help smooth them out and trigger new collagen to improve skin firmness over time. However, Alexiades cautions that, while effective, this method of using the injectable can sometimes create hard nodules under the skin, so radio frequency micro-needling treatments may work better on some cellulite patients.

"When I began using Radiesse to treat cellulite dimples on the derriere, I noticed that patients were getting a little lift on their bum, too," says Levin. "So now I often use Hyperdilute Radiesse for non-surgical Brazilian butt lifts."

While Radiesse is proving to be one of the most versatile injectables, there are a few areas where both Levin and Alexiades agree it should never be administered: the breasts (where it can cause false mammogram readings), around the eyes and in between the brows (if the injector hits the wrong spot and the gel gets into an artery connected to the eyes, it could cause blindness), and the lips (even hyperdiluted, Radiesse could stiffen the lips some).

One thing to remember about Radiesse is that it is non-dissolvable, unlike hyaluronic acid fillers, which can be dissolved by a doctor if you’re not happy with the results. This means that the results cannot be adjusted until the gel naturally breaks down, which takes about a year to 18 months. "This is why it's so important to see a board-certified dermatologist who is well-versed in Radiesse and administers it frequently, and to have a consultation before you get any treatments to be sure you feel comfortable with the doctor's aesthetic and experience in using the product," says Levin. She recommends also asking to see patient before-and-after photos of the doctor's work with Radiesse so you can get an idea of how this person uses the injectable.

The Best Clarifying Shampoos, According to Experts

The Best Acne Treatments, According to Experts

15 Natural Deodorants That Really Work

17 Best Makeup and Beauty Box Subscriptions

The Best Primers Per Makeup Artists

How to Treat an Itchy Scalp

Sulfate-Free Shampoos for Smooth, Shiny Hair

Drew Barrymore Shares Her Favorite Hair Treatment

12 Top Dermatologist-Approved Epilators

Check Out Amazon's Latest Summer Beauty Sale!

Best Leave-In Conditioners

The Best Body Scrubs, According to Experts

The unique qualities of Radiesse New ways Radiesse can treat the face and body Contour the cheekbones and jawline. Soften lines around the lips. Smooth and tighten the neck and décolletage. Tighten loose skin on the knees and elbows. Reduce cellulite dimples. Lift and smooth the buttocks.