Wrinkle fillers that last too long

mellieb on 21 Jan 2007 at 12:00am

One trend in wrinkle fillers like Restylane is that companies are pouring big dollars into developing longer-lasting wrinkle erasers.  For instance, Juvederm seeks to differentiate from Restylane by outlasting it's effectiveness.  Some docs believe Juvederm can last up to 25-percent longer than Restylane.

But I expect to hear more dermatologists and plastic surgeons sound the warning bell that a wrinkle filler can last too long.   wrinkle fillers are longer lasting thanks to new technology

Case in point is the recently US FDA-approved wrinkle filler called ArteFILL.  The injection material in ArteFILL lasts upwards of 5 years.  That's at least 5 times longer than Juvederm.

Some experts claim that this durability makes it more unlikely for patients to maintain a more natural appearance where facial lines match up with the aging face.  Illustrating this point, Dr. Mark Rubin, a dermatologist in Beverly Hills, Calif., and assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the University of California, San Diego tells the Dermatology Times that:

"There are some people - both physicians and patients - who are interested in a product that can be used safely once or twice in their lifetimes, and there are others who have concerns about that idea," Dr. Rubin says. "I can understand both viewpoints. Physicians should discuss both the pros and any perceived cons to a product that promises such longevity."

But does ArteFILL really make the best business sense for doctors and medispas?

The aesthetics industry is clearly a very big business with billions of dollars at play.  ArteFILL is hardly a blessing to the distributors in this industry (doctors, spas, etc) who thrive on patient flow.  Widespread use of ArteFILL could cause a massive slow-down in patient return rates; theoretically an ArteFILL customer would require seeing their doctor only twice per decade.  Whereas in contrast there is Botox, a dream product for medical practices because patients interested in wrinkle relaxing must repeat visit at least 15  times in a 10 year period.

It's quite apparent that the profitability of Botox patients is not in the procedure, per se, but the customer life-time opportunity it provides the dermatologist or plastic surgeon who can sell the patient on products that have higher margins such as Thermage (which RealSelf readers report spending an average of $2600 per Thermage treatment). 


Update Sept 2007: The Wall Street Journal reports the efforts of Dr. Arnold Klein to compel the FDA to revisit the safety of Artefill.  "Dr. Klein says the longer duration of the new products comes with the risk of unsightly lumps that could require surgical removal and leave ugly scars"

Comments (5)

I would definitely prefer the long lasting product vs the ones like juvederm and other treatments as such and keep spending money I don't have. My main purpose of doing this is to stay young and youthful looking so who cares about the unnatural aging appearance! That's the whole idea, I don't want to look like I'm aging, therefore if the product works longer the better for me!!!
Thanks for posting. This is a really interesting issue: whether it's better to have treatments that could make your face look unnatural because of its durability or to have a treatment that requires less upkeep. Personally, I think I'll stick with my juvederm for a while and see how these more durable treatments pan out.
By the way, I really like using this place for my Juvederm treatments: http://www.lasercareformyskin.com/sitepages/pid35.html
I agree with Mary. As a former Patient Coord( who has worked for a selfish Doctor), Docs need to understand that although they may not be back for "filler" in three months, the trust they gain from the honesty for their wallet will bring them back for "other things". Why have a patient come in every other month for botox or filler? Gain their trust and give them some money to spend on other things they may have never thought of.......... a nice monthly facial to compliment their new wrinkle free face or themage etc etc... Money saved, is $ spent!! ;)
It seems to me that patients want something that lasts longer (I do!)and the doctors are the ones that want you coming back every 6 months for temporary products because it is more profitable for them! I think that some of these comments by physicians are a little swayed by money....