PROCEDURES :: INJECTABLE FILLERS

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If you are considering injectable fillers...

 

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 (e.g; Zypast and Cosmoplast), hyaluronic acid (e.g.; Restylane, Hylaform, and Juvederm) and, calcium hydroxylapatite (e.g; Radiesse), 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 re-contouring procedure, such as a facelift.

If you're considering a facial-rejuvenation treatment with injectable fillers, the following information 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.

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 other types of fillers will work better for you. And, conversely, if you've had disappointing results from various other fillers, 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.

Collagen: Allergic reaction is the primary risk of bovine collagen (Zyplast and Zyderm). To help determine if you are allergic to the substance, your surgeon will perform an allergy skin test about a month before the procedure. After the test is performed, the test site should be watched carefully for three or four weeks, or as long as your surgeon advises. Any sign of redness, itching, swelling or other occurrences at the test site should be reported to your surgeon. Human derived collagen (Cosmoplast and Cosmoderm), do not require skin testing. 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.

Hyaluronic acid: This type of injectable filler is made of a natural sugar found in all living cells. There are several varieties of this injectable which are made by different companies. These include Restylane, Hylaform and Juvederm. No allergy testing is required for these types of fillers. Side effects can include temporary swelling, bruising, pain, bumps and redness.

Calcium hydroxylapatite: Radiesse is a synthetic compound comprised of microspheres of calcium hydroxylapatite combined with an aqueous gel. No allergy testing is required. Side effects may include temporary swelling, bruising, pain, bumps and redness.

Fat: Allergic reaction is not a factor for fat because it's harvested from a patient's own body. However, there is still a small risk of infection and other infrequent complications.

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 injectable fillers use, ask your doctor for the manufacturer's brochure for patients.

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
Injectables: Depending on the location of the injection, your doctor may use a topical cream anesthetic. Or, you may elect to have an injected local anesthetic or sedative drugs.

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.

THE TREATMENTS
Collagen, Hyaluronic Acid, and Calcium Hydroxlapatite are all used primarily to fill wrinkles, lines and scars on the face and sometimes the neck, back and chest.

The procedure: The filler is injected using a fine needle inserted at several points along the edge of the treatment site. If a local anesthesia has not been used, you may feel some minor stinging or burning as the injections are administered.
Since part of the substance is salt water that will be absorbed by the body within a few days, your doctor will slightly overfill the area. You may be asked to hold a hand mirror during the procedure to help your doctor decide when you've had enough.

After treatment: Immediately following treatment, you may notice some minor discomfort, stinging or throbbing in the injected area. Occasionally some bruising or swelling will occur, but it is usually minor. Any redness that appears in the injected site usually disappears within 24 hours. However, in some individuals, particularly fair-skinned patients, this redness may persist for a week or more. Tiny scabs may also form over the needle-stick areas; these generally heal quickly.

No bandaging is needed and you are free to eat, drink, and wear makeup with sunblock protection shortly thereafter. There may be some temporary swelling and redness in the treated area which should dissipate within a few days. If these symptoms persist, contact your surgeon.

Results: As stated earlier, the duration of results from each type of injectable filler is variable. The longevity depends on the patient's lifestyle and physical characteristics as well as the part of the body treated. In general, the injected material is likely to disappear faster in areas that are more affected by muscle movement.

Your doctor can help you determine how long you can go between treatments to best maintain your results.

FAT
In the medical world, the fat-injection procedure is known as autologous fat transplantation or microlipoinjection. It involves extracting fat cells from the patient's abdomen, thighs, buttocks or elsewhere and reinjecting them beneath the facial skin. Fat is most often used to fill in "sunken" cheeks or laugh lines between the nose and mouth, to correct skin depressions or indentations, to minimize forehead wrinkles and to enhance the lips.

The procedure: After both the donor and recipient sites are cleansed and treated with a local anesthesia, the fat is withdrawn using a syringe with a large-bore needle or a cannula (the same instrument used in liposuction) attached to a suction device. The fat is then prepared and injected into the recipient site with a needle. Sometimes an adhesive bandage is applied over the injection site.

As with other types of injectables, "overfilling" is necessary to allow for fat absorption in the weeks following treatment. When fat is used to fill sunken cheeks or to correct areas on the face other than lines, this overcorrection of newly injected fat may temporarily make the face appear abnormally puffed out or swollen.

After treatment: If a larger area was treated, you may be advised to curtail your activity for a brief time. However, many patients are able to resume normal activity immediately. You can expect some swelling, bruising or redness in both the donor and recipient sites. The severity of these symptoms depends upon the size and location of the treated area. You should stay out of the sun until the redness and bruising subsides--usually about 48 hours. In the meantime, you may use makeup with sunblock protection to help conceal your condition.

The swelling and puffiness in the recipient site may last several weeks, especially if a large area was filled.

Results: The duration of the fat injections varies significantly from patient to patient. Though some patients have reported results lasting a year or more, the majority of patients find that at least half of the injected fullness disappears within 3-6 months. Therefore, repeated injections may be necessary. Your doctor will advise you on how to maintain your results with repeat treatments.

   
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