As we age, our faces begin to show the effects of gravity, sun exposure and years of facial muscle movement, such as smiling, chewing and squinting. The underlying tissues that keep our skin looking youthful and plumped up begin to break down, often leaving laugh lines, smile lines, crow’s feet or facial creases over the areas where this muscle movement occurs. Soft-tissue fillers, most commonly injectable collagen or fat, can help fill in these lines and creases, temporarily restoring a smoother, more youthful-looking appearance. When injected beneath the skin, these fillers plump up creased and sunken areas of the face. They can also add fullness to the lips and cheeks. Injectable fillers may be used alone or in conjunction with a resurfacing procedure, such as a laser treatment, or a recontouring procedure, such as a facelift. If you’re considering a facial-rejuvenation treatment with Botox, hyaluronic acid, hydroxyapatite, or fat, this will give you a basic understanding of the procedure – when injectables can help, how the procedure is performed, and what results you can expect. It may not answer all of your questions, since a lot depends on your individual circumstances. Please ask your doctor if there is anything about the procedure you don’t understand.
Knowing Your Options
Injected hyaluronic acid, fat and other injectables are primarily used to improve the appearance of the skin’s texture. They can help fill out deep facial wrinkles, creases and furrows, “sunken” cheeks, skin depressions and some types of scars or in the case of Botox®, paralyze muscles which cause wrinkling. They can also be used to add a fuller, more sensuous look to the lips. Injectables are usually not sufficient for severe surface wrinkles on the face, such as multiple vertical “lipstick lines” that sometimes form around the mouth. Instead, your plastic surgeon may suggest a resurfacing technique, such as chemical peel, dermabrasion or laser treatments. Rather than filling in facial lines, resurfacing methods strip away the outer layers of the skin to produce a smoother appearance. Deep folds in the face or brow caused by overactive muscles or by loose skin may be more effectively treated with cosmetic surgery, such as a facelift or browlift. Injectables are sometimes used in conjunction with facial surgery procedures; however, injectables alone cannot change facial contour the way surgery can. Keep in mind that a plastic surgeon is a specialist that can offer you the full gamut of the most advanced treatments ranging from cosmetic surgery, refinishing techniques, laser therapy, injectables and the use of other fillers. You and your surgeon may determine that a single procedure or a combination of procedures is the best choice for you. ASPS brochures are available on chemical peel, dermabrasion, laser treatments, facelift and browlift. If you and your doctor think that one of these other procedures might be more appropriate for you, ask your plastic surgeon to provide you with a copy.
A Word About Other Types of Fillers
This deals with commonly used types of injectable paralytics, such as Botox, and fillers, such as hyaluronic acid. However, to a lesser extent, a number of other filler materials are also being used for facial-rejuvenation purposes. They include: Collagen, a native protein found in abundance in our skin naturally; Fibril, a gelatin powder compound that’s mixed with a patient’s own blood and is injected to plump up the skin (similar to injectable collagen); and Gortex, a thread-like material that is implanted beneath the skin to add soft-tissue support. Each of these options has its own set of risks and benefits. If you’re considering any of these alternative filler treatments, tell your doctor.
What to Expect from Treatment
The most important fact to remember about injectable fillers is that the results are not permanent. Injected material is eventually metabolized by the body. You should not expect the same long-lasting results that may be gained from cosmetic surgery.
In some individuals, the results may last only a few weeks; in others, the results may be maintained indefinitely. Researchers believe that age, genetic background, skin quality and lifestyle as well as the injected body site may all play a role in the injected material’s “staying power.” However, the precise reason for the variation of results among patients has yet to be identified.
If you’ve had short-lived results from fat injections, you shouldn’t necessarily assume that collagen injections will work better for you. And, conversely, if you’ve had disappointing results from collagen, don’t assume that injected fat is the answer. Although it’s true that some individuals’ bodies are more receptive to one substance than the other, others may find that neither substance produces long-lasting results. Sometimes one substance may work better than the other for a specific problem.
Risks Related to Injectables
When injectables are administered by a qualified plastic surgeon, complications are infrequent and usually minor in nature. Still, individuals vary greatly in their anatomy, their physical reactions and their healing abilities. The outcome of treatment with injectables is never completely predictable. Risks not necessarily related to allergies include infection, abscesses, open sores, skin peeling, scarring and lumpiness, which may persist over the treated area. Reports of these problems are very rare.
Planning for Treatment
Facial rejuvenation is very individualized. That’s why it’s important to discuss your hopes and expectations with a board-certified plastic surgeon who has experience with many different types of surgical and non-surgical facial procedures. In your initial consultation, your plastic surgeon will evaluate your face – the skin, the muscles and the underlying bone – and discuss your goals for the surgery. Your doctor will help you select a treatment option based on your goals and concerns, your anatomy and your lifestyle. Your surgeon will ask you about your medical history, drug allergies, and check for conditions that could cause problems, such as active skin infections or non-healed sores from injuries. Collagen injections are generally off limits for pregnant women, individuals who are allergic to beef or bovine products, patients who suffer from autoimmune diseases, and those who are allergic to lidocaine (the anesthetic agent contained in the syringe with the collagen material). For more specific information about the contraindications and risks of collagen use, ask your doctor for the manufacturer’s brochure for patients. Insurance usually doesn’t cover cosmetic procedures. However, if your injectable treatment is being performed to treat a scar or indentation from an accident or injury, you may be reimbursed for a portion of the cost. Check with your insurance carrier to be sure.
Where Your Treatment Will Be Performed
Injectables are usually administered in a surgeon’s office-based facility. If, however, you are being hospitalized for a facelift, necklift, browlift, or any other procedure, your injections may be administered in the hospital as well.
Types of Anesthesia
Your doctor may use a topical cream anesthetic or a freon spray to numb the injected area. Or, you may elect to have an injected local anesthetic or sedative drugs. When injecting Fat: Both the donor and recipient sites are numbed with local anesthesia. Sedation can be used as well. If you elect to use sedation, be sure to arrange for a ride home after your treatment.
Botox® Cosmetic is an FDA approved treatment consisting of onabotulinumtoxin, often referred to by its product name Botox®, and is a popular non-surgical injection that temporarily reduces or eliminates frown lines, forehead creases, crows feet near the eyes and thick bands in the neck. The toxin blocks the nerve impulses, temporarily paralyzing the muscles that cause wrinkles while giving the skin a smoother, more refreshed appearance. Studies have also suggested that Botox is effective in relieving migraine headaches, excessive sweating and muscle spasms in the neck and eyes. After the injections, you will notice improvement within days and the results can last up to 4 months.
Restylane is a type of hyaluronic acid-based dermal filler. Like other hyaluronic dermal fillers, Restylane is free from animal proteins which eliminate risk of allergic reactions. Restylane is most commonly used to improve facial wrinkles and folds including nasolabial folds.
Juvederm is also an FDA approved hyaluronic acid-based dermal filler. This smooth consistency gel helps add volume and hydration to your face. Juvederm is most commonly used to treat your smile lines, or nasolabial folds. This injectable process takes about on 15 minutes to complete, and results can be immediate.
Sculptra is an FDA approved product made up of poly-lactic acid used to treat lipoatrophy, or loss of fat beneath the skin. Lipoatrophy can result in indentation, hollow eyes and sunken cheeks. Sculptra is injected underneath your skin and replaces lost volume in facial skin. It also improves thickness of the skin which creates a natural appearance.
Radiesse is FDA approved to safely correct wrinkles and folds around the nose and mouth, also commonly referred to as smile lines. Radiesse, consisting of hydroxyapatite, not only fills in your lines and wrinkles, it stimulates the production of collagen and encourages tissue regeneration. These immediate results can last up to one year.
Kybella is an individually tailored injectable treatement made up of deoxycholic acid that permanently destroys fat cells under the chin for an improved profile.
Please see our page regarding more information on Fat Injection here.
Your New Look
If you’re like most patients, you’ll be very satisfied with the results of your injectable treatments. You may be surprised at the pleasing results that can be gained from this procedure.