Collagen Makes Way for Hyaluronic Acid as Filler of Choice
Although we all age at a different pace and a little differently, we do all age – and as we do it is expected that we will lose some of the skin’s fullness when collagen breaks down. Collagen is a natural substance that keeps our skin plump and youthful.
Starting in the 1990s collagen injections became the benchmark for non-surgical facial augmentation and the most popular way to restore a youthful look by filling lines and wrinkles, and plumping thinning lips with collagen. Injectable collagen is primarily obtained from cows (bovine collagen). Brand names included CosmoDerm, Cosmoplast, Zyderm, Zyplast.
Today, those seeking to prevent signs of premature aging as well as those looking to restore fullness to the face, are turning to another natural agent, hyaluronic acid. In fact, hyaluronic acid has replaced collagen as the filler of choice so much so that two of the largest manufacturers of collagen injections, Zyderm® and Zyplast® do not make the product any more.
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How Hyaluronic Acid Filler Works
One of the reasons hyaluronic acid is so popular for restoring a youthful look and minimizing facial wrinkles and lines, is because of its compatibility with the human body. That’s because hyaluronic acid is found in our living cells where it acts as a network that transports essential nutrients from the bloodstream to skin cells. High concentrations of hyaluronic acid are found in soft connective tissue and in the fluid surrounding your eyes. It is also in some cartilage and joint fluids. Unlike collagen, the injectable form of hyaluronic acid is not derived from animal sources. Brand names include Captique, Esthélis, Elevess, Hylaform, Juvéderm, Perlane, Prevelle, Puragen and Restylane.
When hyaluronic acid gel is injected, it acts like a pillow to support facial structures and tissues that may have lost volume or elasticity due to normal aging. It also draws water to the surface of skin to keep it looking plump, fresh and supple.
Where Hyaluronic Acid Filler Works Best
Hyaluronic acid injections can be used to improve the skin’s appearance and reduce depressions in the skin due to scars, injury or aging. Depending on the skill of your surgeon, you can expect dramatic improvements for:
- Acne scars
- Cheek depressions
- Fine lines at the corner of your eyes (crow’s feet)
- Nasolabial Furrows (smile lines that run from the side of the nose to corners of the mouth)
- Frown lines between the eyebrows
- Lines at the corners of the mouth
- Redefining lip border
- Scars including acne scars, burns and wounds
- Vertical lines on the mouth (smoker’s lines)
- Frown lines that run across the forehead
Hyaluronic acid and other soft tissue fillers cannot restore sagging skin. Learn how to tighten loose skin here.
What Happens During Hyaluronic Acid Injections?
According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, small amounts of hyaluronic acid are injected into targeted areas of your face through very fine needles. Treatments typically take less than 30 minutes depending how many lines are treated and you should expect very little discomfort.
However, before you start, you need to discuss your desired results with your surgeon in order for him or her to determine what areas to treat and how much filler to use.
Your surgeon will then mark targeted points on your face to use as a guide for the injection sites for the filler.
Injection sites will be cleaned with an antibacterial agent and a topical anesthetic will be used to numb the area. In some cases, the hyaluronic acid includes an anesthetic in the mixture.
After the injections, the surgeons guide marks will be removed and you will be offered an ice pack to reduce any minor discomfort and reduce any potential swelling.
At this point you may apply makeup if you like, however, do not apply pressure to the treated areas – doing so can result in movement of the hyaluronic acid.
For those seeking to repair scars and treat deep lines, multiple injections may be required to achieve desired results. If a deeper injection is required, you may be offered a local anesthetic to remain comfortable. Common sites for deeper tissue fillers are the nasolabial folds and marionette lines, or to enhance fullness in the cheeks.
A Final Word about Fillers
All dermal fillers (including hyaluronic acid) are a wonderful, non-invasive, way to rejuvenate your appearance, but they can not stop the aging process and the treatment is not permanent. Depending on the brand of filler you use and the condition of your skin, you will need to repeat the treatment every 6 – 12 months to maintain a fresh, youthful look. If you desire a more permanent solution, consider a traditional facelift, brow lift or eye lift.
Resource: American Society of Plastic Surgeons: Soft Tissue Fillers