Medical-grade silicone injections have been slowly gaining in popularity because they finish off a wrinkle once and for all. Microdroplets deposited in the skin via multiple injections along a crease prompt the body to produce collagen to surround the foreign bodies, which lifts the area. But this method is permanent, meaning side effects (including red, inflamed nodules) and any mistakes (such as overplumping) are there for life.
Depending on the product, man-made gel versions of hyaluronic acid (HA), a sugar molecule, are derived from tiny pieces of rooster combs or bacteria grown in a lab. Once injected into lines, the material attracts up to 1,000 times its weight in water, thus filling the crevice. HA's cushiony softness makes it a favorite for cheeks and lips.
The downside: The material has quite a sting, and swelling is obvious for a day or two. If injected too superficially -- a mistake that's most often made by inexperienced injectors -- HA can temporarily produce tiny beading and inflamed larger nodules. HA lasts about four to six months.
For more than 20 years, poly-L-lactic acid was used in absorbable sutures, before doctors found that placing it deep within the skin revs up collagen production.
"You inject it once a month, and new collagen gradually creates added volume. About four sessions works amazingly well," says Dr. Leslie Baumann, a professor of dermatology at the University of Miami. Bonus: Sculptra is so thick, the plumping effect lasts up to two years. Side effects may include small bumps or inflammation within a year of treatment.
This version of the natural cementing material found in teeth and bone is suspended in a water-based gel. Clinical trials for wrinkle filling are under way, but some doctors are already using it for deep wrinkles, jowls and even botched nose jobs. It's so thick that the doctor must inject it deeply through a large needle, so there's more bruising than with other injectables, says Dr. Thomas Romo III, director of plastic reconstructive surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. The plumping may persist for two years or more.
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