08 December 2008

A-Z of hyaluronic acid fillers

Read all about the new generation of injectable fillers that can reduce wrinkles without surgery. Hyaluronic acid is the latest buzz word in fillers.

High-tech, injectable cosmetic treatments are fast becoming one of the most popular treatments for patients wanting to look instantly younger.

Types of fillers
Early permanent fillers include silicone and Articol. They aren't used that often anymore.

The new-generation biodegradable fillers last reasonably long and there’s negligible trauma involved.

The current gold standard are fillers produced from a crystal-clear gel form of hyaluronic acid (HA), a sugar that occurs naturally in the body.

What exactly are these new-generation fillers?
Cosmetic surgeons in South Africa inject hyaluronic acid (HA) fillers to reduce facial lines and to make lips fuller.

Some HA products are more effective than others. Products which have undergone a patented stabilisation process, have a longer-lasting effect. One should opt for the reputable brands that meet certain criteria and safety standards.

HA fillers are not treatments for skin damage – they are strictly tissue fillers which have a lifting effect. They can also be used to add volume to the tissue in the cheeks, chin and lips.

HA is a substance that occurs naturally in the body. It holds water, thereby hydrating and giving volume to the skin. Because the effect is non-permanent, it is absorbed naturally over time.

Look out for products which are non-animal, long-lasting, stabilised and biodegradable.

The hyaluronic acid product range includes:

  • products for fine superficial lines;
  • products for wrinkles;
  • products for deep wrinkles or folds;
  • products for chin and cheek augmentation;
  • products for augmenting lips and defining the lip border; and
  • a skin rejuvenation product that keeps skin looking naturally fresh, healthy and youthful.

Well-known brand names are Restylane, with Teosyl, Juvaderm and Surgiderm gaining popularity since they are cheaper than the well-known brand.

No downtime
Injecting fillers into the grooves of wrinkles on the face at a superficial level can do much to decrease the signs of facial ageing.

The procedure takes a few minutes and the patient can return to work – even though the injected site might be a little red and puffy for a few hours. The mild swelling is usually gone within a day or two.

Treatment, effects and side-effects
An HA filler is injected into the wrinkles and holds shape for 6 - 12 months. More viscous products, used for deeper wrinkles and folds, are also available and can last up to 18 months.

After the treatment, some common injection-related reactions may occur, such as swelling, redness, pain, itching and tenderness at the implant site. These typically resolve spontaneously a few days after the injection.

Other types of reactions are very rare, but about 1 in 10 000 treated patients experience localised inflammatory reactions of a hypersensitive nature.

These reactions either starts a few days after injection or after a delay of two to four weeks, and are generally described as mild to moderate and self-limiting, with an average duration of two weeks.

Choose the best surgeon
If you're thinking of undergoing a treatment, it’s a good idea to choose a reputable surgeon who will give you a clear idea of the treatment and how it works. Also make sure that he or she is using a stabilised hyaluronic gel. Costs vary from doctor to doctor.

Contact a reputable surgeon or doctor in your area. For more information on stabilised injectable gels, visit the Association of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons of South Africa’s website on

Article compiled by Lorraine Forbes for Health24.
Sources: Aestethics specialists Prof Lawrence Chait, Dr Tracey Bergstrom, Dr Alek Nikolic and Dr Judith Budavari, and Cliff Norman of Conquest Surgical Supplies, importer of the high-tech fillers for the medical fraternity.


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