Injectable treatments (fillers) in their various forms have become the mainstay of the aesthetic world, but there are a wide range of products, doing very different things. Do you know the difference between a dermal filler and a volumiser? Before embarking on a treatment it’s important to do your research.
We’ve all heard of Botox, but do you know how it works? And did you know that Botox is actually just the name of one particular brand, which has become synonymous with a whole category of wrinkle eradicators. That category should really be titled ‘botulinum toxins’.
There are three major players in the botulinum toxin market place: Botox, Dysport and Xeomin. It is entirely possible that even your aesthetic practitioner is using, for example, Xeomin, but referring to it as ‘Botox’. Just to confuse matters they have different names for their cosmetic uses – Botox is called Vistabel, Dysport is Azzalure and Xeomin is Bocouture.
What a botulinum toxin does is to relax the muscles beneath the skin, preventing the formation of ‘dynamic wrinkles’ – wrinkles that are caused by certain facial expressions.
Botulinum toxins can also be used to treat hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating), to numb the balls of the feet for women who spend long periods of time wearing high heels, and are widely used in the medical arena to treat migraines, tension headaches, back pains, spasticity and prolonged muscular contraction conditions, called dystonia.
Botulinum toxin is a naturally occurring protein produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. This bacterium makes several different types of protein which are called type A to type F. All three of the brands mentioned above are type A botulinum toxins.
The regulations about marketing botulinum toxins to the consumer are strict, as they are classified as drugs, so you are unlikely to see ‘Vistabel’, ‘Azzalure’ or ‘Bocouture’ advertised on a clinic’s website.
If you are interested in experiencing the benefits that these products have to offer for yourself, the phrase to look out for is ‘wrinkle (or muscle) relaxing injections’, and you would then need to speak to the practitioner to find out exactly which product they use.
Temporary dermal fillers
Dermal fillers, as the name would suggest, dermal fillers are used to fill in lines and wrinkles.
The original dermal filler was made from collagen derived from a bovine source, which was highly effective but had some fairly major limitations – the main issue being that patients needed to come in for a skin test four weeks prior to treatment to check for allergic reactions, so it wasn’t exactly a walk-in, walk-out procedure. Collagen also had a very short duration of action, with the effects wearing off after two to three months.
Then, in 1996, a non-animal hyaluronic acid (HA) based filler called Restylane was launched, and since then a whole wealth of fillers have appeared on the market, each one more technologically advanced than the last. Other HA fillers to look out for are Belotero, Teosyal or Juvederm.
All the temporary filler brands contain at least two or three different products within the range that are used for different applications; the consistency that is used to enhance the lips will be thinner than the one used to replace volume in the mid-face.
If you’re not quite ready for Botox or fillers, but could do with a complexion booster, hyaluronic acid micro-injections might be the treatment for you.
Foremost in the market place is Restylane Vital, which leapt onto the scene in 2010. Administered using a specially designed pen, the treatment injects tiny amounts of hyaluronic acid through micro-injections just below the skin’s dermis, to boost hydration and promote a radiant, dewy complexion.
Volume loss is one of the biggest giveaways of ageing, particularly in the mid-face area. Thankfully modern science has given us some wonderful gifts, and volumising treatments represent a way to restore that lost volume.
Most of the big dermal filler ranges contain a volumising product, containing larger molecules of the same substance, which are injected deeper into the dermis.
However, there are some products which have been developed specifically for the purpose of restoring lost volume. Radiesse is a biocompatible volumising filler that stimulates the growth of your own natural collagen over time, but with an immediate volumising result.
Radiesse is made from synthetic calcium microspheres. It’s biocompatible, so you don’t need any allergy testing, and it’s very versatile – you can use it just to fill in a wrinkle, like you would with a normal dermal filler or go deeper to create volume. It can even be injected in a certain way to lift the face and create a non-surgical facelift. It also lasts longer than HA dermal fillers – between 12 and 18 months – but eventually is absorbed by the body.
The other big name in the volumising market is Sculptra, a ‘tissue simulator’, made from poly-L-lactic acid, which is injected deeper into the dermis to stimulate collagen production, and the effects of which can last for up to 25 months.
For women considering breast or buttock augmentation but nervous about going under the knife, the introduction of body filler Macrolane in 2008 was a godsend. Now however, Macrolane is not being used in breast augmentation.
Using the same patented technology as its sister product Restylane, Macrolane is a thicker, more viscous hyaluronic acid gel, which can be injected in larger volumes into the breasts, buttocks or calves to create a subtle and temporary volumising effect.