Bellafill for Acne Scars

Bellafill is an injectable dermal filler used to treat atrophic acne scars in the cheek area. 

Fillers are nothing new in the treatment of acne scars.  They’re injected under the skin to plump up those depressed areas and make the skin look more smooth and even.  While most fillers need to be repeated every so often to maintain the look, Bellafill gives a more permanent result. 

Although it’s a newly approved treatment for acne scars, this treatment has actually been in used to treat “smile lines” for some time, under the name Artefill.

How does it work?

Bellafill is a collagen filler that also contains polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) microspheres. 

The gel is injected just below the skin’s surface, under the scar.  The collagen in Bellafill has an immediate effect, raising the depressed area to even out the skin. 

The PMMA microspheres have a different job.  Now, this sounds strange but tiny round particles, made from a type of plastic that has been used in medical implants for many decades, are also injected under the skin.  These are the PMMA microspheres, and they’re so small they are nearly invisible to the naked eye. 

They are also the key to making the results much longer lasting than typical dermal fillers.  Even after the collagen is absorbed by the body, the microspheres stay in place.   They creates a base that allows the skin to build new collagen which forms between the microspheres, giving a nearly permanent result.

What can you expect during treatment?

Bellafill is done in the dermatologist’s office.  It’s a fairly quick procedure, with little to no downtime. 

During a treatment session, Bellafill is injected with a tiny needle directly under the acne scar.  The area is numbed to make the injections more comfortable.

   

A treatment session typically takes less than 30 minutes.  Although you will see improvement rather quickly, it can take one to three treatments to get the results you want. 

Is it permanent?

Nearly.  You may need touch-ups over time to keep the improvement.  But it is the longest-lasting acne scar filler on the market as of yet.

Will it get rid of all my acne scarring?

Bellafill only works on a specific type of scarring (yes, there are different types of acne scars.)

It’s only effective on rolling acne scars.  It doesn’t work on the deeper ice pick scars, boxcar scars, hypertrophic scarring, or skin discoloration (AKA postinflammatory hyperpigmentation.)

Make sure you have realistic expectations of your procedure.  Bellafill won’t completely erase acne scarring, but it can improve the look of the skin by smoothing it out and making it more even. 

Who is it right for?

For any scar treatment to work, your acne needs to be completely cleared up before you start treatment.  (Need help getting your acne under control?

  Here's a good place to start: Best-Bet Acne Treatment Options.)

Also, Bellafill isn’t for teens.  You need to be at least 21 years old before you’re considered a candidate for treatment.

And you can’t have Bellafill treatment done if you are allergic to lidocaine or bovine collagen.  Your dermatologist will give you a skin test first, to make sure you aren’t going to have a reaction to the treatment.

What are the possible side effects?

You may get some minor swelling and redness right after a treatment.  You may also notice bruising and discoloration, or lumps around the injection site.  Typically these go away within a week or two.

How much does it cost?

It’s not cheap, at about $1000 per injection.  Depending on the number of sites you need treated, the cost can add up quickly.  And because it is a cosmetic procedure, it probably will not be covered by your insurance.

Are there other acne scar treatments available?

Yes!  Bellafill isn’t the only scar treatment available.  There are laser treatments, certain chemical peels, and other dermal fillers that may be good treatments for you.  So, talk to a knowledgeable dermatologist about your options.   

Sources:

Epstein RE, Spencer JM.  “Correction of atrophic scares with Aretfill: An open-label pilot study.”  J Drugs Dermatol.  2010 Sep;9(9):1062-4.

Karnick J, Baumann L, et. al.  “ A double-blind, randomized, multicenter, controlled trial of suspended polymethylmethacrylate microspheres for the correction of atrophic facial acne scars.”  J Am Acad Dermatol.  2014 Jul;71(1):77-83.

Suneva Medical, Inc.  “Bellafill Patient Labeling.”  Jan 2015.

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