Discover the secret to a natural look with dermal filler

Woman smiling after Botox

Discover the secret to a natural look with dermal filler

After finishing at the clinic, I planned to meet Mum for lunch. The patient I’d just treated was meeting friends at the same cafe, so we walked down together. My patient took the opportunity to tell Mum she loved the “tiny tweaks” with dermal filler I provided.

After she left, Mum whispered “When are you doing the treatment?”.

“I just did it!” I replied.

“But…she looks normal!” Mum exclaimed in astonishment.

“Yes! That’s my signature!” I explained. “If you put the right amount of dermal filler in the right place, it looks completely natural.”



Mum was relieved to hear it, but also surprised. She couldn’t understand why anyone would want to look overdone and unnatural, but she thought that’s what dermal filler was all about.

The rise of the overdone look with dermal filler

Sadly, I’m not surprised Mum mistakenly thought dermal filler results would always look obvious. I am seeing overdone results everywhere – on Instagram, in gossip mags, and even on Facebook. “What has she done to her face?” text my friends, forwarding a photo of a school friend they’ve not seen for years.

‘Married at First Sight Australia’ features Tracey from Perth, who now looks completely different compared to before she had filler. I think you can see that she’s had filler. I don’t believe that’s what most women want.

I’m so disappointed – this is not what I want my profession to bring to the world. The overdone look spoils natural beauty, just as heavy makeup does, and it doesn’t have to be that way.

The key to a good filler or Botox treatment is that it should be undetectable. Just as with subtle makeup, the best work is invisible.

Done well, dermal filler can be absolutely amazing. It can make you look less tired, less sad, less saggy and more attractive. It can reshape your lips and restore hollows under your eyes.

But some practitioners don’t – or can’t – keep their patients looking natural. How can you access the amazing benefits of dermal filler without risk of looking like Tracey?

Before and after Botox and Filler

Your injector is key

Mostly, your result is about the skills of your injector.

Treating with filler is like sculpting with clay and it requires artistry to get the contours right. I’ve found artistic judgement can’t be taught – you either have a good eye, or you don’t.

Injectors without artistry struggle to see the face as a whole. Instead, they focus on eliminating wrinkles, usually at the expense of facial shape and harmony and this where the problems start. They don’t seem to know when to stop.

They fill lip lines until your upper lip bulges into a ‘monkey muzzle’.

They eradicate the nasolabial fold between your nose and mouth giving you a weirdly flat face (see Donatella Versace below).

They do the same “cookie-cutter” lip on every face shape and size.

An untrained observer might not identify exactly what’s wrong, but your face doesn’t appear harmonious, especially when you’re making expressions.

How can you make sure this doesn’t happen to you?

Find an injector with artistry

Finding an injector with a good artistic eye is similar to finding a good hairdresser. Word of mouth is very important, so if any your friends have been open about having filler themselves and they look great, ask them for their recommendation.

Have a look at your injector’s own face. It will be a good clue as to whether they prefer a natural look or an overdone look. If they look freaky themselves, I suggest you keep searching.

During a consultation, ask to see before and after photos of patients, your practitioner has genuinely treated themselves, or check their website or Instagram for evidence. It’s wise to remember that natural results can look understated in a photo, so if a photo looks overdone, the result will look even more obvious in real life.

Careful attention to detail is paramount

Beauty is measured in millimetres. When your injector is treating your face, they should be taking time and care, as keeping you looking normal requires careful attention to detail. I like to see injectors study their work closely and tweak it until they are completely satisfied.

During treatment, your injector should observe your face from all angles, and touch and pinch your face to feel the shape of structures underneath. They should ask you to smile, frown and kiss before they inject filler. This helps them to find the exact right location to place filler. Natural results need a detailed and often complex treatment plan with different types of filler placed precisely to support the whole area.

Training and experience definitely counts

Learning how to inject filler is difficult and presents another challenge for injectors.

It’s not possible to become a skilled injector after a two-month course. It takes years to build up the full range of techniques, and good training is hard to find in New Zealand. I had to go global to find the right mentors, such as Brazilian plastic surgeon Mr Mauricio De Maio, Australian plastic surgeons Mr Steven Liew and Mr Peter Callan, and Australian dermatologist Dr Greg Goodman.

Ask your injector who they trained with, how many days of training they’ve had, and how many filler treatments they have performed. The more you do, the better you get.

Keeping up to date is essential. Cosmetic medicine changes faster than any other area of medicine I’ve experienced. I’ve found I need to attend a couple of international conferences a year to stay current with filler.

Injecting techniques have completely changed in the last five years. We now treat “indirectly”, placing filler distant from the area needing improvement, so your face looks normal when you smile and laugh. The best injectors work hard to move with the times.

Qualifications count, too. Look for a doctor with the NZSCM Diploma in Cosmetic Medicine. This two-year diploma is the highest available standard of filler training for doctors in NZ and is only available to doctors with at least 10 years of medical training.

You have a part to play too

Some patients end up over-treated because they ask for more and their injector obliges. Bear in mind, the best injectors will say no when needed. If your injector says no, listen to them – they have your best interests at heart.

An area might look like it needs more in your mirror, but we can observe from an angle you can’t see and know it will give an unnatural contour.



Never fear – dissolver is here

If the worst happens and you think you’re looking weird, all is not lost. If the filler is made from hyaluronan, it can be quickly dissolved away.

It’s not always easy, but I have taken upset patients over-treated at other clinics back to baseline with dissolver, then started all over again.

The rewards from dermal filler can be amazing

With a 2,000% increase from 2003 to 2016, fillers now sit second in popularity after botulinum toxin injection, surpassing laser hair removal, chemical peels and microdermabrasion.

With its ability to shape the face, reduce wrinkles and improve the condition of the skin, versatile dermal filler can do things no other treatment can. It smoothes; it nourishes; it gives contour and projection.

Nothing else can shape your lips or reduce lip lines as well as filler does. In my experience, it’s far superior to laser, surgery or fat injections for lip concerns.

The lack of downtime and ease of a simple 60-minute appointment mean it fits into our lives. I believe it’s the ultimate secret weapon for looking good.

Filler can be amazing – once you find the right injector.

If you want to find out more about how I can help you to find the right look for you, please contact me here.


I’m passionate about building my skills. I’ve searched out the best teachers from around the world and attend international training events every year. Cosmetic Medicine changes so fast, keeping up-to-date is essential!

I’m also on a mission to improve patient safety and practitioner knowledge in New Zealand. I love to teach my colleagues through my training roles at NZSCM, Facecoach and Allergan.