Cosmetic Injections

Young womanWhat They Are, What They Cost and Who is Giving Them

The skin care industry in the United States is a $5.8 billion business and the cosmetic surgery industry, a $12 billion business–in the past year alone. Both industries are driven by America’s demand for anti-aging products and the desire for healthier, fresher, and–seemingly most importantly–younger skin. To achieve this look some women turn to creams, serums and other such miracle elixirs, whereas others look to more extreme methods of reverse aging, namely non-surgical cosmetic treatments known as injectables. Since 2000, the 00’s have seen a huge surge in the popularity of these cosmetic procedures; and as injectables have become more popular, they have also become more readily available–to those both in and outside of the medical world. Given such, it is imperative that women know what exactly they are being injected with, the costs of these injections–both fiscal and physical–and who is doing the injecting.

The Injectables

Most of cosmetic procedures that are intended to reverse the signs of aging, are non-surgical treatments known as injectables. The most common in the industry is, of course, Botox. An injectable chemical that can diminish the appearance wrinkles and fine lines by weakening facial muscles, Botox treatments are minimally invasive. Once the facial muscles are weakened, the overlying skin in those areas (usually the forehead and eye area where it is injected) relaxes causing wrinkles to appear less deep. At $300-$500 a pop, the treatments can last from three to four months.

While likely the most well-known injectable, Botox is far from being the only game in town. Dysport, a wrinkle relaxer made from the same active ingredients as Botox, works by restricting the movement of muscles that cause creasing and lines. However unlike Botox, which can take up to a week to start showing results, with Dysport, which was approved by the FDA in April, results can take as little as two days to begin to show. For almost the same price as Botox, Dysport is also reported to last for up five months.

…It is imperative that women know what exactly they are being injected with, the costs of these injections–both fiscal and physical–and who is doing the injecting.

Another famous member of the injectable family is Collagen. When most people think of Collagen, they think of lips–huge, voluminous fish-like lips. Collagen is a skin-building protein, designed to repair missing or insufficient amounts of skin. Restylane is a lip injection treatment similar to Collagen in that usually responsible for the appearance of these lips, but when used in appropriately, both Collagen and Restylane can result in proportionally fuller lips that can last anywhere from four to six months, at the cost of $500 to $1000 per treatment. However both Collagen and Restylane are also used on the rest of the face as well, working as filler to reduce wrinkles and clear up acne.

But if you can’t get the image of Collagen-enhanced fish lips out of your head, there is an alternative. A new injectable, Evolence was approved by the FDA in June, to increase lip size and fill in lines. Dermatologists are predicting it will soon replace Collagen altogether.

While the visible effects of various injectables can last anywhere from three to six months, the long term effects are as of yet unknown. The immediate side effects of injectables can include nausea, allergic reaction, swelling, tenderness, bruising and occasionally, flu-like symptoms or rash.  If injected with too high an amount of Botox, patients can experience the famed inability to make facial expressions, overly arched eyebrows and rare cases, droopy eyelids or drooling from the side of the mouth, depending on the area injected. Fortunately, none of these side effects have proved to be permanent. However, it is still unclear as to whether or not continued use of Botox and other such injectables will have lifelong impacts on appearances, or if the chemicals will affect the body in other ways as well.

The Injectors

According to medical professionals, cosmetic injectables are technically not that difficult to administer. That said, they should in no way be administered by anyone other than a board-certified plastic surgeon or dermatologist. Since Botox and other treatments are becoming increasingly more available and are so “easy” to administer, there is an increasing number of uncertified physicians offering injection services, when their specialized practices are fields such as dentistry or gynecology.

To ensure that your physician is properly qualified, verify their board certification with the American Board of Medical Specialities (ABMS). This can be done on the ABMS website. Your doctor should also be registered with either the American Society for Dermatological Surgery (ASDS) or the American Society for Plastic Surgeons (ASPS). You should also take into consideration your physician’s technical expertise, his or her knowledge of the nature of facial muscles and whether or not they have an eye for aesthetics. Request to see samples of of your doctor’s work. If he or she is experienced, they will have plenty to show you.

Those unqualified for administering any type of injections are likely any of the women present at the increasingly popular “Botox parties.” Injectable parties, where women gather to inject themselves with various treatments such as Restylane, Botox or Collagen, are far less safe than the doctor’s office, even if you have a trained technician present to administer the treatments.

These parties are usually held at womens’ homes which, (no matter how much time you’ve put into cleaning) are never as sterile as a physician’s office. Nor are there treatments available to respond to an emergency should it arise, such an allergic reactions. The addition of alcohol (which is pretty standard of injectable parties) during a medical procedure is also a huge red flag. Alcohol thins the blood, weakens the immune system and can increase side effects. You may also be setting yourself up for a more painful experience, with more bruising and a longer healing period.

There is also the chance that if you are unfamiliar with the host of the party or the host’s doctor, you may be getting improper injections. Unless your host provides proof of her physician’s credentials and samples of their work, you run the risk of being treated by an unlicensed or inexperienced technician. Asking the host to see proof her doctor’s qualifications may not be polite, but it’s essential if you don’t want to end up on www.awfulplasticsurgery.com.

To get a detailed description of treatments and to find out if cosmetic injectables are right for you, check out the Physicians Coalition for Injectable Safety (PCIS) at www.injectablesafety.org. PCIS features descriptions of treatment options, a glossary of related medical terms, videos of live injections as well as a guide to help find the right doctor for your treatment.

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