Attack of the Pillow Face – Less is More for Injectable Fillers



pillow face Dr Siew
the Pillow face – a phenomenon resulting from too much fillers being injected into the face

Years ago, the only way to reverse the effects of ageing was via a surgical facelift. Hence, you would see women walking around looking as if a gale was blowing in their face – a ‘windswept appearance’ as a result of pulling the skin too tight.

The introduction of non-surgical tightening procedures (like Thermage & Ulthera) and injectable fillers (e.g. Hyaluronic Acid Fillers) changed all that. Skin rejuvenation entered a new era, where ‘natural’ was the emphasis. However, we should have known that too much of anything is never a good thing.
Meg Ryan Pillow Face
Meg Ryan – Former Dream girlfriend, now Pillow Face Monster

Rise of the Pillow Face

Hyaluronic Acid Fillers has revolutionized the way we treat the aging face. It allows us to not restore lost volume associated with aging, but also reduce fine lines and improve skin texture.I mentioned in a previous post about how one of the biggest sins in aesthetics is chasing lines. While fillers allow us to plumb up the cheeks, restoring a full, youthful appearance, some doctors and patients go overboard, putting in too much filler product.  All over Hollywood, a new phenomenon, known as the “Pillow Face”, has begun to afflict both male and female celebrities – as a result of placing too much fillers into the midface area.

When More is Not Always Better

Sarah Brightman Pillow Face
Sarah Brightman – A victim of too much Botox and Cheek Fillers

It is very easy (for doctors and patients) to want more and more, especially when the results of injectable fillers are so good. When I started injecting fillers for the cheeks, I made the same mistake too – Both my patients and I were delighted by the amazing results, and when they asked for more to remove this line here, and that line there, I agreed. I created a number of Pillow Face Monsters myself.

Fortunately, the world of beauty has come to its senses – and realise the mistake we have been making. We now realise that hence we always have to be very careful in striking a fine balance between looking youthful, and looking like a ballooned-up monster you want to burn at the stake. Hence, the mantra ‘less is more’ becomes ever more important, especially when such procedures become more and more commonplace.

How Much is Enough?

Fillers can change a person’s features. For the genetically blessed, like our Hollywood stars, the aim of treatment, however, is not to change one’s appearance, but to turn back the clock – restoring what time has taken away. Many of my patients wish for the same – to look younger, rather than to look different. That has to be borne in mind when administering treatment – not to overdo it such that our patients look like someone else.

Tatum O'neal Pillow Face
Tatum O’Neal, the latest Pillow Face victim

Take Tatum O’Neal, for example – She still looks good after treatment (right), however, compared to herself 3 years ago, she looks completely different (I actually think she looks like Renee Zellweger now!). The treatments have taken away her previous looks, and turned her into somebody else!

Fillers -Still A Fantastic Treatment. Combination Treatments for Best Results

Don’t let all the horror stories deter you. Hyaluronic Acid fillers are still a miracle treatment, which, in my opinion, works like no other, short of undergoing the knife. Done correctly and skillfully, it will take years away from your face, while preserving your innate beauty.

Angelica Houston pillow face
Angelica Houston – Morticia Addams no more.

However, sometimes, fillers alone just are not enough. Combination treatments may also be needed to solve other problems, like upper eyelid hooding, skin sagging are needed for a good aesthetic result. For instance, Angelica Houston here concentrated on filling her in cheeks rather than treating the other bigger problems – making her already rounded silhouette look even worse! She would benefit from a procedure to treat the double chin area – such as liposuction, and/or an endotine jawlift.

As always, it is important to speak to your doctor more, to find out what the best procedure is for you. In medicine, it is never one-size-fits all, and treatment always has to be tailored to every individual. When we look back, we can laugh at the era of the bloated celebrity faces, because their doctors forgot this very important point.