A decade ago, if you had wrinkles, they could be filled only with collagen made from cows, or maybe with your own fat. Alternatively, you could stretch those wrinkles with a facelift, sand them down with dermabrasion, blast them awaywith a laser, or melt them with chemical peels.
All of those “wrinkles cures” had many problems. So, the FDA approval of the very safe and simple technique of hyaluronic acid injection seven years ago shook the wrinkle world upside down.
The first hyaluronic acid approved was Restylane. Hyaluronic acid is an ingredient that your body seems to ignore after injection because is it naturally found in your own skin. That fact became the death knell for collagen, because collagen was seen as foreign by your body and it was attacked and dismembered quickly.
And sometimes the war against the cow collagen confused your body and the barrage against the injected stuff resulted in an attack against your own collagen. That caused a disease called rheumatoid arthitis.
Since Restylane was ignored by your body, it happily sat there and filled your wrinkles for a year or even longer. Shortly after Restylane hit the U.S., other hyaluronic acid fillers like Juvederm and Prevelle were introduced. These were followed by other more durable fillers like Radiesse, made of calcium hydroxylapatite and Sculptra, made from a type of sugar called polylactic acid.
More recently, a plastic containing filler called Artefill was approved. It lasted, well, as long as you last… You may think that a permanent filler sounds great, but if there are problems with that filler, the problems may also be permanent.
By last year, nearly 2 million people had these various new fillers injected into wrinkles all over their faces. And now that there were safe, durable fillers, the one that started it all, cow collagen, lost so much market share that it was no longer profitable. And so it was gone.
So, you might be surprised to learn that a new collagen was just FDA approved. It’s called LaViv, and this one may be a game changer.
When you have LaViv injected, you’re really just injecting yourself with …you. Here’s how it works. Your doc takes a little biopsy of skin from behind your ear. He sends that piece off to the LaViv laboratory in Pennsylvania, where their scientists take that skin, separate its cells, feed it and talk nicely to it while it produces your own collagen. This new age farm then sends back your own collagen to your doc who then injects it into your wrinkles. Sounds great, doesn’t it?
The only issue is that in early studies only a third of patients have excellent results 6 months after their third injection. My patients who receive Restylane, Juvederm, and Radiesse have better results than that. Nearly 100 percent still look better at 6 months. And this new farmed collagen is labor and technology intensive, and so it most certainly will cost more than the old standbys. So I’m not sure whether this latest filler will make the cut.
There are many more fillers that are about to be FDA approved, and even more available in Europe.
In the end, this wrinkle war will be won by probably a few different fillers—the ones that are the cheapest and last the longest and have the fewest complications will be the victors.
And the prize? Hundreds of millions of dollars and much younger looking patients.
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