Improving Skin Texture

Living, loving and laughing along with gravity, time and sun exposure all live their mark on our face as we get older. The underlying tissues that keep our skin youthful and plumped up begin to break down, showing laugh lines, smile lines, crow's feet or facial creases over the areas where there has been the most muscle movement.

Options for Improving Skin Texture with Injectables

Collagen and fat can be injected into deep wrinkles, creases, furrows, sunken or depressed areas and some types of scars to help fill them out. These materials can also be used to give lips a fuller, more sensuous look.

Using injectables is not effective for severe wrinkles (such as multiple, vertical "lipstick lines" that sometimes form around the mouth). Resurfacing techniques such as chemical peels, dermabrasion or laser treatments may be more effective for these conditions. Instead of filling in lines, these procedures strip away the outer layers of skin to produce a smoother appearance.

Deep folds in the face or brow due to overactive muscles or loose skin may be best treated with a facelift or a brow lift. Injectables are sometimes used along with surgery; injectables alone cannot change facial contours the way that surgery can. You and your surgeon should discuss what procedure or combination or procedures are best for achieving the results you are seeking.

What to Expect from Skin Texture Treatments

The most important fact to remember about injectable fillers is that - unlike cosmetic surgery -- the results are not permanent. The body eventually metabolizes the material injected into your skin.

In some people, the results may last only a few weeks; in others, the results may be maintained indefinitely. Your age, genetic background, skin quality and lifestyle as well as the body site being treated may all pay a role in the injected material's staying power.

Treatments for Improving Skin Texture

Several different materials are used to improve skin texture. Some are natural materials such as collagen or fat; others are non-animal, biodegradable material.

Sometimes, an individual's body may be more receptive on type of substance than another. Sometimes, on substance works better for a specific type of problem than another.

Collagen Injections

Collagen is a naturally occurring protein that provides support to the skin, the joints, the bones and the ligaments. Injectable collagen is derived from purified bovine collagen. The purification process creates a material similar to human collagen. Since 1981, it has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. It is produced in various thicknesses to meet individual needs.

Collagen is used mostly to fill in wrinkles, lines and scars on the face, the neck, back and chest.

Before the procedure is done, you are given a skin to test to make sure you are not allergic to the collagen. Then the collagen is injected using a fine needle inserted at several points along the edge of the treatment site. You may feel some minor stinging or burning as the injections are done if you have been given a local anesthesia.

The collagen is mixed with salt water that will be absorbed by your body within a few days, so 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.

Afterward, you have some minor discomfort such as stinging or throbbing in the area. Sometimes 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 those who are fair-skinned, the redness may last a week or more. If this continues, call your surgeon. Tiny scabs may also form over the needle sticks points, but these generally heal quickly. No bandages are required. You are free to eat, drink and wear makeup with sunblock soon thereafter.

Results from collagen injections vary. Your doctor can help you determine how long you can go between treatments to best maintain your results. In general, the injected materials are likely to disappear faster in areas that are affected by muscle movement.

Restylane Injections

Restylane is a non-animal, biodegradable gel based on hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid is a substance found in most of our bodies that provides volume and fullness to the skin. Restylane has been proven to last longer than fat and collagen injections. It maintains its shape using the body's own moisture. What results is a longer-lasting, youthful facial appearance. Restylane can be used to either shape facial contours, smooth wrinkles or sculpt lips

This procedure takes less than half an hour and gives you instant results. Restylane wrinkle treatment can last from six to 12 months. Restylane lip injections last about six months.

Fat Injections

Fat injections involve removing fat cells from your abdomen, thighs, buttocks or elsewhere. This is done using a syringe with a large hollow need attached to a suction device. The fat cells are prepared and then injected beneath the skin of the face. Fat injections are most often used to fill in sunken cheeks or laugh lines between the nose and mouth, to correct skin depressions and indentations and to minimize forehead wrinkles and enhance the lips.

After the procedure, an adhesive bandage may be put on the injection site. You may be advised to not be active awhile. Many patients, however, are able to resume normal activity immediately. You can expect some swelling, bruising or redness both where the fat cells were taken from and where they were injected. The area where the fat cells were injected may stay swollen for several weeks.

You should stay out of the sun until the redness and bruising goes away - usually about 48 hours. In the meantime, you can use makeup with sun block to help conceal any signs of the treatment.

The results vary 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 the injected fullness disappears in three to six months. Repeated injections may be necessary. Your doctor will advise you on how to maintain your results with repeat treatments.

Risks and Complications

When treatment is done by a qualified plastic surgeon, complications are rare and usually minor. As with any medical procedure, however, there is always a risk of complications. You can reduce any risks by closely following your surgeon's instructions both before and after surgery.