Dermal fillers: A new way to look younger

Plastic surgery is an invasive procedure that sometimes requires overnight stays in the hospital and...

Plastic surgery is an invasive procedure that sometimes requires overnight stays in the hospital and leaves patients in a lot of pain during the recovery process. Injectable facial implants, also known as dermal fillers or wrinkle fillers, provide similar improvements to facial aesthetics through minimally invasive injections. These "liquid facelifts" smooth wrinkles, diminish the appearance of smiles lines, enhance the fullness of lips and reduce facial creases. Although the results of such procedures subside over time, consequently requiring multiple treatments, the cost is still lower than surgery. Also, wrinkle fillers are outpatient procedures and do not require lengthy hospital stays or carry the same amount of risk for complications as cosmetic surgeries.

Types of injectable facial implants

The effects of dermal fillers last anywhere from three months to two years depending on the type of injectable facial implant used. Most wrinkle fillers contain ingredients that occur naturally in the body and therefore are eventually absorbed by the body. This is actually a good thing because the likelihood of a patient suffering an allergic reaction to the product is greatly reduced. The four materials most commonly used for "liquid facelifts" are collagen, hyaluronic acid, calcium hydroxylapatite and polylactic acid.

Collagen is a protein found in cartilage, teeth and bones that is purified and injected into the site of the desired aesthetic improvement. Human or cow cells are the most common sources for this injectable filler and the results usually last for three to four months.

Hyaluronic acid (HA) is a naturally occurring sugar found in joints and cartilage. HA used for cosmetic procedures is usually artificially manufactured in a medical laboratory and lasts six to 12 months after injection.

Calcium hydroxylapatite is a mineral found in teeth and bones. When used as a wrinkle filler, calcium hydroxylapatite particles are mixed with a gel-like substance and injected into the wrinkle. Results last roughly 18 months.

Polylactic acid is a synthetic material that increases the body's production of collagen. The effects last for roughly two years.

For further safety information, visit the "Cosmetic Devices" subpage of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) website for a list of FDA approved products that feature these materials as an active ingredient.

Selecting the right doctor

In metro Atlanta, you have plenty of choices for where to have such procedures performed, but the wrong choice could result in a painful experience. Select a doctor whose specialty is dermatology or cosmetic surgery and verify that he has proper experience administering dermal fillers by checking his qualifications with the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Prior to the procedure, the doctor should review your medical history, review your desired enhancements and provide you with a realistic expectation of the results. The procedure consists of an injection using a sterilized needle; the amount of injections necessary is based on your desired results. Following treatment, you may experience mild discomfort but can resume normal activities right away.

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