I heard a doctor on TV say that Artefill was risky, but my friend had it injected and it looks really good. Is Artefill safe? Does anything last as long, like maybe silicone?
What Are Artefill Injection Risks?
Doctor Answers 16
Artefill and mass hysteria? Let's separate the truth from the nonsense.
First, let me express my skepticism about how many "draining granulomas" my colleagues have seen from ArteFill "8 years after" its injection. Artefill was approved for use in 2006 (THREE years ago). So any patients injected eight years ago would have either 1) not been injected with Artefill, or 2) were from the very early beginning of the experimental study group of patients prior to its approval.
Indeed, granulomas are hard to treat (not impossible). But what is the relative risk? My same colleagues who ply the public with hysterical claims of its risk are the same ones who confidently recommend surgical procedures with much higher rates of complications. The granuloma risk from Artefill is on the order of 1 in 800 patients. The risk of having a bad outcome from rhinoplasty? Perhaps as high as 1 in 10 to 1 in 20 patients.
I like Artefill, I use it (in addition to other fillers), and I've injected family members with it. It needs to be done correctly and for the right indications. But let's put risk into perspective.
All the best,
Artifill has inherent disadvantages
Artifill uses PMMA (plastic) beads, materials which are non-biologic and have no natural defenses against infection. If bacteria form around the beads, the body has no defense against them (i.e. no blood vessels of its own to carry white blood cells or antibiotics) as the bacteria multiply on the foreign object. The body will often try to encapsulate the involved area with scar tissue, calcium deposits and inflammatory tissue as white blood cells degranulate, or discharge their acid sack contents in an attempt to kill the bacteria. This creates an inflammatory lump that is often palpable below the skin surface. Occasionally the lump becomes infected and red. This process can take months to years to occur. The beads and inflammatory reaction can move over time as the dynamic process of the inflammatory response of the body acts on the bead complex.
We have found in our practice the best way to treat the problem is to surgically remove the lumps, usually with small incisions hidden if possible in natural creases or anatomic borders.
Autologous tissue from the patient's own tissues such as LiveFill (fascial fat grafts), all alive when they are placed, are a more permanent, more durable method of augmenting soft tissue in the face. LiveFill grafts have the disadvantage of not being universally available and of being more expensive than injected fillers, and requiring an outpatient surgical procedure to place.
If patients are interested in temporary fillers, current hyaluronic acid (HA) fillers last approximately 6 months (Juvederm, Restylane), and are therefore less durable than Artefill. However HA fillers offer much greater biocompatability, and tend to go away over time. If the results are undesireable, they eventually go away. This is not the case with Artecoll, Artefill or silicone, where bad effects of the injection are often permanent.
There are many patients who have had Artecoll and Artefill injections with no problems and have appreciated the long lasting results. However I have difficulty balancing the risks or a permanent or semipermanent filler with the benefits of longer duration of action. I would agree with the statement that they are risky, for the reasons above.
Artefill®'s safety lies in the hands of the injector
I have been injecting Artefill® for many years now in practically every part of the face and body, including the hands, lower eyelids, acne scars, nose, vermillion border. I have only seen two small granulomas in well over 800 patients which were easily and rapidly treated.
As with all permanent fillers, only small amounts should be injected at a time and in multiple planes. An expert injector of any filler (whether it be temporary such as hyaluronic acid [Restylane®, Juvederm®, Belotero®], Radiesse™ or permanent such as Artefill®, Aquamid™ or fat) should have a light touch and avoid injecting "lakes" of filler which are far more problematic. Since the center of these "lakes" have no blood supply to receive antibiotics or the body's own antibodies, they can become more easily infected. The same holds true with any permanent filler, whether it be Aquamid® or natural fat transfer for that matter.
My patients and I have been extremely satisfied with Artefill®, and have seen less untoward effects than with many of the hyaluronic acid fillers (which produce a swollen, bluish tinge around the eyes on a number of occasions).
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Artefill, formerly known as Artecoll
ArteFill is a gel filler consisting of millions of synthetic microspheres (polymethylmethacrylate or PMMA) suspended in purified bovine (cow) collagen. This product sounded like a bad idea to me when it was first introduced. Countless reports of lumps, bumps, and granulomas by patients who have been injected with this product. Over the last few years, this product has become less and less popular and currently, the company is in bankruptcy.
Artefill can be good - but they are bankrupt
Artefill is a good product but there are some long term problems such as granulomas which can be very difficult to treat. Of note, the company which makes Artefill filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy at the end of 2008.
There are other permanent options including silicone, but some fat from the belly or thighs can be used in places that would be otherwise amenable to Artefill or other permanent fillers.
Artefill Is Cost Effective, Long Lasting, Natural Feeling and Has An Excellent Safety Profile
The safety profile of Artefill is exceedingly good with no reports of adverse reactions to the FDA by the makers of the product in the first 5 years of the product's use.
Not only is Artefill safe it also has been shown to have very high patient satisfaction when it is implanted by experienced injectors.
To date, the studies show that Artefill will last at least 5 years.
I hope that helps.
Long term development of granulomas
I have seen draining granulomas develop in patients 8 years after their ArteFill was injected who had no problems in between. This is very alarming and difficult to treat. Avoid all permament fillers!
Bellafill risks are equivalent to all other fillers, perhaps even less
Comparable to other fillers
These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.