Reporter: Shannon Samson
Genetics, sun damage, smoking and how we laugh or frown can all be blamed for etching lines into our faces.
Bovine collagen used to be the wrinkle-filler of choice, but had the potential to cause allergic reaction and its results were short-lived. Recently, the Food and Drug Administration approved a new substance that many dermatologists are finding more promising.
Linda Doerflein says she's not looking to have an extreme makeover, but she does want to enhance her features. She's having a dermatologist soften what some refer to as the "marionette lines" near her mouth.
The injectable filler called Hylaform gel contains hyaluronic acid, a naturally occurring sugar in the body that adds volume to the skin. Dermatologist Dr. Naji Tawfik says, "It's almost the mortar upon which the other structures of the dermis are laid, like the collagen and elastic fibers."
A topical cream Dr. Tawfik put on Linda two hours before the procedure makes these injections less painful. Dr. Tawfik says, "I go under the line into the dermis and inject that material carefully to lift the skin up and replenish that compound, the hyaluronic acid that Linda had normally before and over the years we all tend to lose a little bit of it."
This synthetic version is made from bird tissue. Hyaluronic acid is the same compound in every species. Unlike collagen, there's very little chance for allergic reaction. Results are usually immediate and last anywhere from four to six months. Dr. Tawfik says,"The same unwanted effect, which is short longevity, is also a good advantage because if there is a side effect with it in terms of if it is not placed properly in the area or over-correction, this does not last very long."
Linda thinks she'll have a better idea of what the skin near her mouth looks like once the swelling goes down. You can judge for yourself if there's enough of a difference to justify the cost. One syringe of hylaform gel sells for $350 and it takes a full syringe to treat each area of the face.
Besides wrinkle-reducing, hyaluronic acid can also be used to augment the lips, which can be more painful. And you only want a dermatologist to inject it because if someone less qualified hits a blood vessel you could have permanent discoloration, scabbing or scarring.