Collagen Implants: Be Happy Go Lippy
by Marjorie Dorfman
No pressure, no diamonds. Mary Case
Why are more and more people opting for botox and collagen injections to restore their youthful appearances? Which treatments offer what and are all of them safe? These and other searing issues may raise a furrow or two, but at least it will be a happy, well-informed furrow. Read on.
If Ponce de Leon ever did find the fountain of youth, he certainly never told me or any of my friends and relatives about it. Although the crows nest may have helped him find his way across the Atlantic Ocean, it is doubtful that he understood a lot about crows feet. Wrinkles form when the natural collagen layer thins during the course of aging, the worst possible process for anything living besides cheese and wine. The way our skin looks is directly related to the way our skin is supported. (No ex-spouses or alimony here; age is the major determinant). Other factors that weaken the collagen fibers include exposure to the sun, disease, injury, heredity and life style. (In other words, if Father Time doesnt get you, some of his other friends will!) But how does one distinguish one dermal filler treatment from another? Consider too, how comforting can it be to learn that some collagen comes from cows and pigs and that botox is derived from the same bacterium that causes botulism, a severe form of food poisoning?
Men and women have been prepared to suffer for the sake of their appearances for many, many centuries. During her reign, Queen Elizabeth I started a fashion for pale skin. Ladies began to paint their faces with a cream made from powdered white lead, egg white and vinegar. These creams gave the face a shiny appearance and smiling could easily "crack" the face. (Twenty years bad luck). The noxious effects of the lead paint caused many problems and even some deaths. In the 1700s, black patches were stuck to the skin to cover the scars caused by these toxic face creams.
Before going into the different types of dermal fillers, it is important to state that no treatment can halt the aging process. Time waits for no man, woman or wrinkle. They nearly all require regular top-ups to maintain the effect. Wrinkles are like bad pennies and old movie stars: always making a comeback. Because collagen is a natural substance, it slowly breaks down into amino acids that are then absorbed into the body. The longevity of the implant will depend on its location and each individuals own response to it. In most cases, they last anywhere between one to six months, although with some people one implant may be sufficient for up to two years. All cosmetic procedures carry risks as well and can go wrong. Shop around for the best professional and think carefully before choosing a treatment. The skin you save may be your own.
What exactly is collagen anyway? The skin has two layers; the upper epidermis and the dermis. The epidermis controls the loss of water from cells and tissues and without it the body would quickly dehydrate. The dermis is composed primarily of Collagen; a protein, which forms a network of fibers that, provides a framework for the growth of cells and blood vessels. Collagen acts (when it is behaving properly) as the support structure for your skin. Along with silicone and fat, it is known as an "injectable filler." These fillers cover a multitude of ah, well, non-venal sins, ranging from filling out acne scars and wrinkles to plumping lips. There are two kinds of collagen: that made from the connective tissue of cows and pigs and that made from human tissue. What you cant make out of a sows ear might surprise you, even though it could never by any standards be considered a silk purse.
Bovine collagen can cause allergic reactions and a skin test is usually required. Approximately 3% of the population is allergic to bovine collagen. The skin test involves the injection of a test dose of the substance into just below the surface on the forearm. The site is then observed closely for at least 4 weeks for any signs of redness, swelling, hardness, itching or tenderness. Reactions can occur anywhere within this time frame, but most often will appear within the first three days. After the required observation period the doctor can make a decision about whether or not you should proceed with collagen replacement therapy or go to jail and collect two hundred dollars. Zyderm and Zyplast introduced in 1981 and 1985 respectively, are the best selling and most successful dermal fillers on the market today. They are made of highly purified bovine collagen.
CosmoDerm and CosmoPlast are collagen dermal skin fillers made from human collagen, which are injected just below the skins surface to smooth wrinkles, fill in deep furrows and restore the lip border. CosmoDerm and CosmoPlast offer a similar aesthetic result to bovine collagen with the added convenience of not needing a skin test. CosmoDerm is used for superficial lines, whereas CosmoPlast is primarily utilized in the treatment of more pronounced wrinkles. Restylane, Hylaform, Juvéderm and Silikon1000 are other approved names for wrinkle fillers. Injections must be administered by a licensed physician or a Collagen Specialist, who is a qualified health care professional, such as a registered nurse or physicians assistant, educated in all aspects of Collagen Replacement Therapy. Collagen Specialists are expertly trained to proficiently inject collagen under the direct supervision of a licensed physician.
What is Botox and how is it different from collagen? Botox is a trade name for botulinum toxin A. Sound poisonous? Well, it is, in a way. It is related to botulism, a form of food poisoning causing paralysis that occurs when someone eats something containing a neurotoxin produced by the bacterium, Clostridium botulinum. If you are wondering if it is in fact the reincarnation of the Marquis de Sade who administers these injections, let me assure you that sadism has nothing to do with this. Quite simply, if an area of the body cannot move, it cannot wrinkle. The main difference between Botox and collagen is that the protein Botox is injected into the muscles to relax them, and collagen is a dermal filler that is injected below a wrinkle, scar or depression in order to fill it", smoothing the surface of the skin.
There is no question that Botox is a diluted food poison which blocks nerve signals and can cause paralysis. On the other hand, Botox has been licensed by the US Food and Drug Administration for cosmetic use since April 2002. It was first used in 1980 to treat muscle disorders, such as lazy eye, eye ticks and uncontrolled blinking. Dermatological surgeons pioneered cosmetic treatments in 1987. In small doses, Botox paralyzes the muscles of the face, which are used in frowning and raising the eyebrows. When these muscles relax, the fine lines and wrinkles smooth out. Unfortunately, when overdone, Botox treatment can leave the face with a lack of expression, which is reputed to have caused a problem for some actors.
Speaking of actors, Botox is reportedly a favorite with Oscar nominees who dont want to work up a sweat on the red carpet. Some stars have injections in their armpits to paralyze the sweat glands. This way they can receive their awards knowing they dont have sweaty patches under their arms and return their couture outfits unstained. (No names here. I can never tell because Mums the word!)
If you are wondering what all of this will cost you, I cannot give you exact answers. Pricing varies depending on the number and types of areas being treated, the amount of filler material required to achieve the desired results and the physician administering the treatment. So, forget your troubles, come on get lippy. Cmon and chase all those lines away.
Cheer up and go for whatever makes you happy. We only live once. Its just a shame we cant say the same thing about our wrinkles!
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