Incredible Injectables: Restylane® vs. Radiesse™
By Monica Galvan
Published on September 12, 2007
Indecision – we’re all guilty of it. Walk down any aisle of your local supermarket and you’re bound to see puzzled looks on the faces of fellow shoppers as they contemplate the rows of seemingly equivalent products. Low sodium or reduced fat? Trusted for 30 years or new and improved? Heart smart or all natural? By the same token, the increasing popularity of dermal fillers for wrinkle reduction has caused the number of injectables on the market to rise each year, leaving patients with more choices, longer-lasting results, and tougher decisions when it comes to selecting the best cosmetic treatment.
A Brief History of Modern Injectables
Injectable fillers as we know them have been used in medicine since the late 18th century, when soft-tissue augmentation was performed using a patient’s own fat. Still a popular cosmetic treatment, fat transfer techniques allow a plastic surgeon to harvest fat from one part of a patient’s body and inject it into the treatment area for a firmer, plumper, or smoother appearance. The early 1900s saw the introduction of paraffin as a soft-tissue filler, followed by silicone injections (which were later outlawed) in the 1940s. In the 1980s, the Food and Drug Administration approved the use of bovine (cow) collagen for soft-tissue augmentation, and injectables entered the mainstream as a non-invasive, quick cosmetic treatment for reducing wrinkles and plumping up the lips. With the FDA’s approval of BOTOX® Cosmetic in 1989, injectables continued to gain popularity among consumers and doctors as an effective, safe alternative to surgery.
Not Your Momma’s Old Filler
Much has changed since the one-injectable-fits-all days of collagen and BOTOX® Cosmetic. While collagen and BOTOX® Cosmetic are still among the most requested injectables, newer, more specialized dermal fillers such as Restylane® and Radiesse™ are beginning to emerge as the products of choice. Both FDA-approved, Restylane® and Radiesse™ target specific areas of the face and body, and each filler has its slew of pros and cons.
Restylane® – Putting Your Best Face Forward
Most people probably think of collagen as the most common dermal filler, but Restylane®, a 21st century hypo-allergenic alternative, has become the most requested filler currently available. In fact, treatment with hyaluronic acid (the active ingredient in Restylane®) became one of the five most popular non-invasive procedures in 2006, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Breaking into the top five for the first time, Restylane® ranked just behind BOTOX® Cosmetic, chemical peels, laser hair removal, and microdermabrasion. With longer-lasting, relatively inexpensive fillers like Restylane® and Radiesse™ on the market, collagen could soon become a relic of the past.
So what makes Restylane® such a good choice? Generally used to fill in lines and plump up areas that have lost fat, Restylane® effectively treats the areas around the eyes, nasal defects, smile lines (nasolabial and marionette folds), chin creases, lip lines, and thin lips.
One of the safest cosmetic treatments available, Restylane® requires no surgical incisions, and the smoother, more hydrated skin that results can last between six and twelve months before maintenance is necessary. Additionally, Restylane® is less expensive than many popular injectables.
“My patients generally like the smoothness and low risk nature of Restylane®,” notes Dr. Scott R. Miller of La Jolla, California. “Also, it doesn’t have the regional limitations of Radiesse™, which you cannot use on lips or for fine lines." However, Dr. Miller adds, “some patients with deeper troughs who desire a longer duration opt for Radiesse™.”
Radiesse™ – Additional Uses, Longer-Lasting Results
Similar to Restylane®, Radiesse™ is ideal for diminishing the appearance of wrinkles around the nose and mouth. It is also effective in treating maxillofacial and vocal chord defects, as well as addressing facial wasting in HIV patients. Radiesse™ is administered using a few quick, easy injections to visibly plump and smooth the skin’s outer layers.
Perhaps the biggest advantage of Radiesse™ is that it lasts longer than other dermal fillers – up to two years – because it stimulates new collagen growth beneath the surface of the skin for natural facial rejuvenation. The biocompatible materials are reabsorbed into the body over time. Yet, while results are longer-lasting than with Restylane®, collagen, fat transfer, and other dermal fillers, Radiesse™ is also more expensive.
On the up side, most other injectables require multiple doctor visits, but Radiesse™ requires only one treatment for results that are visible for more than a year. “Because of the longevity of the product, it is much more cost effective for both the patient and the physician and it makes a much more attractive filler,” explains Dr. Michael Jason of Tampa, Florida. “We don’t have to go back and repeat the injection procedure as frequently. Therefore, the patient has the benefit of much more long lasting improvement.” In fact, Dr. Jason is so confident in the effectiveness of Radiesse™, he has used it on his own family.
Safe, Natural Materials
Both Restylane® and Radiesse™ are made of non-allergenic substances that occur naturally in the human body. Compare this to collagen, which contains bovine collagen, or BOTOX® Cosmetic, which is derived from botulinum toxin, and it’s clear which products are safer to inject. Because Restylane® (made of hyaluronic acid) and Radiesse™ (made of calcium hydroxylapatite) are biocompatible materials, they pose a low risk of complications or side effects. Conversely, many people experience allergic reactions to bovine collagen, and not surprisingly, patients are sometimes weary of injecting a toxin into their face to get rid of forehead wrinkles and crows’ feet.
A Word of Warning…
There are very few side effects associated with Restylane® and Radiesse™. Minor discomfort, temporary swelling, and bruising may occur. Restylane® is not recommended for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, and patients should avoid sun exposure for up to a week after receiving Restylane® injections. Patients are able to return to normal daily activities immediately following a quick Restylane® skin treatment, and smoother, firmer skin is visible immediately. Radiesse™ requires some down time, but patients are able to resume normal activities after a few hours of rest. Care should be taken not to strain facial muscles for approximately two days after receiving Radiesse™ injections.
Injectable fillers are safe and effective, which is why so many people opt for the needle over the knife. The biggest risk is receiving treatment from a doctor who is not qualified to perform skin rejuvenation procedures. Because these treatments are relatively painless and quick, more doctors and dentists are beginning to offer Restylane® and Radiesse™ injections to make smoother, younger-looking skin attainable to more people. For quick, cost-effective wrinkle treatment, the choice is yours. And, as always, make sure you select a qualified physician to perform your procedure.
Best Uses for Other Injectables
Unlike fillers of days past, modern-day injectables are designed to treat specific areas of the face and body. Here is a short breakdown of other injectables on the market and their ideal uses:
• BOTOX® Cosmetic
Most common use: Reduces forehead wrinkles, lines between the eyebrows, and crows’ feet.
Other uses: Relieves chronic pain, excessive underarm and palm sweating, jaw tension, and muscle spasms.
• JUVÉDERM™ Injectable Gel
Most common use: Fills in smile lines (nasolabial folds) that run from the bottom of the nose to the corners of the mouth.
Other uses: Reduces the appearance of acne scars, adds fullness to the lips.
Most common use: Restores and corrects facial fat loss in patients with HIV (facial lipoatrophy).
Other uses: Fills in facial lines, wrinkles, hollows, and creases.
Most common use: Smoothes moderate to severe facial folds and wrinkles, such as nasolabial folds.
Other uses: Enhances and fills in lips, cheeks, acne scars, and sagging skin under the eyes and on the neck.