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Dermal Fillers

Dermal fillers help to diminish facial lines and help to restore volume and fullness in the face.

With age, our faces naturally lose subcutaneous fat. The facial muscles are then working closer to the skin surface, so smile lines and crow’s feet become more apparent.

The facial skin also stretches a bit, adding to this loss of facial volume. Other factors that affect the facial skin include sun exposure, heredity, and lifestyle.

Soft Tissue Fillers, also known as injectable implants, dermal fillers, or wrinkle fillers are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use to create a smoother and/or fuller appearance in the face, including nasolabial folds, cheeks and lips and for increasing the volume of the back of the hands.

Dermal fillers can be used to plump thin lips, enhance shallow contours, soften facial creases and wrinkles as well as to improve the appearance of recessed scars.

Dermal fillers can be very helpful in those with early signs of aging, or as a value-added part of facial rejuvenation surgery.

Collagen

Collagen is a type of protein that is a major part of skin and other tissues in the body. Sources of purified collagen used in soft tissue fillers can be from cow (bovine) or human cells. The effects of collagen fillers generally last for 3-4 months. They are the shortest lasting of injectable filler materials.

Side effects of collagen injections include some risk of allergic reaction (mostly for those still using cow sources), as well as bruising and redness at the site of the injection.

Hyaluronic acid

Hyaluronic acid is a type of sugar (polysaccharide) that is present in body tissues, such as in skin and cartilage. It is able to combine with water and swell when in gel form, causing a smoothing/filling effect. Sources of hyaluronic acid used in dermal fillers can be from bacteria or rooster combs (avian). In some cases, hyaluronic acid used in dermal fillers is chemically modified (crosslinked) to make it last longer in the body. The effects of this material last approximately 6 – 12 months.

Hyaluronic acid is the most prominent glycosaminoglycan in the skin. Hyaluronic acid potently binds to water and, when injected into the skin, volumizes, softens, and hydrates the skin. In addition to these benefits, it plays a role in cell growth, membrane receptor function, and adhesion.

In February 2003, the FDA approved Restylane, a cross-linked, nonanimal source hyaluronic acid. This dermal filler was quickly found to be relatively long lasting, have minimal adverse effects, was easy to use, was ready to use out of the box, did not require refrigeration, was cost effective, and did not require skin testing prior to treatment.

Calcium hydroxylapatite

Calcium hydroxylapatite is a type of mineral that is commonly found in human teeth and bones. For wrinkle filling in the face or for the hand, calcium hydroxylapatite particles are suspended in a gel-like solution and then injected into the wrinkle in the face or under the skin in the back of the hand. The effects of this material last approximately 18 months. While in the body, calcium hydroxylapatite will be visible in x-rays and may obscure underlying features.

Poly-L-lactic acid (PLLA)

PLLA is a biodegradable, biocompatible man-made polymer. This material has wide uses in absorbable stitches and bone screws. PLLA is a long lasting filler material that is given in a series of injections over a period of several months. The effects of PLLA generally become increasingly apparent over time (over a period of several weeks) and its effects may last up to 2 years.

Non-absorbable (permanent) materials

Polymethylmethacrylate beads (PMMA microspheres): PMMA is a non-biodegradable, biocompatible, man-made polymer. This material is used in other medical devices, such as bone cement and intraocular lenses. PMMA beads are tiny, round, smooth particles that are not absorbed by the body. When used as a soft tissue filler, PMMA beads are suspended in a gel-like solution that contains cow (bovine) collagen and injected into the face.

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