Filler-up’s for the face

Posted on March 30th, 2010 by Michelle

Facial sculpting is a way to describe non-surgical, non-invasive techniques used to improve the health and appearance of the skin, mostly on your face.  Fillers and botulinum products such as Botox and Dysport can imitate the results of plastic surgery, and can even be used as preventative esthetics – keeping your wrinkles from getting worse. What can now be done with needles instead of a scalpel is seriously remarkable and relatively painless, albeit temporary. So, here’s your primer on fillers.

Hyaluronic acid fillers – or brand names you’ve heard of like Juvederm, Restalyne and Radiesse  – have replaced collagen injections in the face, because the synthetic fillers “last twice as long as collagen, look and feel natural, and are versatile – they can be used in a variety of creases, lines in the face, and to enhance the lips,” says Dr. Jeffrey Dover, author of The Youth Equation and Director of SkinCare Physicians in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts.   Fillers can be used to erase acne scars, as well as those pesky  “parentheses” that appear between your nose and mouth, aka nasolabial folds.  HA is a substance that occurs naturally in the body, binding moisture and providing plumpness.  As we age and it degrades, the skin can sag or wrinkle.

The  three you hear about most often are Juvederm, Restylane and Perlane, and they’re all a little different.

  • Juvederm: ­ An injectable gel, this is the first FDA-approved HA dermal filler proven to be safe and effective for persons of color, according to  Physicians say it is smoother than its counterparts, making it the best choice for plumping lips. The results are immediate and in most cases swelling goes away in about 24 hours.
  • Restylane:  ­ Because it is made up of smaller HA molecules, Restylane works better in treating fine lines.  It may take swelling 2-3 days to disappear after Restylane treatments and up to a week for the results to  be noticeable, “which is understandable if they’re hidden under swelling” says Dr. Dover.
  • Perlane:  ­ Though it is made by the same company, this gel contains more hyaluronic acid molecules than Restylane, making it more effective when lifting and filling areas that benefit from a denser concentration, such as deep skin wrinkles, scars and  creases.

Radiesse and Sculptra are a couple other names you hear about and all can be used to complement one another in conjunction with Botox or Dysport for reshaping and re-sculpting the face.

Considering that they are temporary, fillers can be pricey at an average of somewhere between $500-$800 per per syringe, and often clients need more than one if the area of treatment contains deep lines.  The fillers are less temporary than they use to be – collagen lasts about three months, but new fillers can remain for six months to a year.

If you do opt for the needle, but don’t like the final look, they’re reversible – sort of.  HA filler results can be neutralized by injecting hyaluronidase, an enzyme that absorbs the filler. Results, however, are really mixed. Most of the reviewers forced to use the enzyme were disappointed, using adjectives like “melting” to describe their results.

Relaxing muscles and filling in crevices is much like sculpting clay with water to achieve a smoother and more youthful appearance.  Fillers are temporary and expensive, but often a good “trial run” to see what the results might look like before you opt for the scalpel.

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