When Artes Medical, the makers of Artefill, filed for bankruptcy in December of 2008, permanent filler fans in the U.S. were distraught. Artefill, also known as Artecoll, remains the only permanent dermal filler to have received FDA approved in the U.S., but things may soon change. There are current rumblings that a new permanent dermal filler, Aquamid®, may soon be FDA approved in the U.S. for the treatment of facial lipoatrophy, wrinkle removal, and for filling in the nasolabial folds. The injectable is also rumored to be a possible treatment for thinning lips and scar depressions.
Unlike Artefill, which is comprised of tiny injected microspheres, Aquamid® is a natural-feeling hydrogel made up of 97.5% water and 2.5% polyacrylamide. Polyacrylamide gel is a soft water-absorbent substance, and a natural neurotoxin, that's proven to be a useful "thickening" agent. Aquamid was first developed by Contura, a Denmark-based medical tech company. Internationally, Aquamid has already gained a reputation as a top-rated, permanent dermal filler.
Aquamid is recommended for injection into facial areas exhibiting fat loss, areas with deep creasing like the nasolabial folds, and even the lips. Some patients use Aquamid for wrinkle removal, and for facial augmentation of the cheeks, chin and nose. With Aquamid currently undergoing clinical trials in the U.S., and estimated to gain FDA approval by late 2009 or early 2010, Aquamid might be treating anti-aging patients nationwide before we know it. To date, the projected cost of Aquamid injections in the U.S. is around $1000 per cc.
While the idea of using a "permanent" dermal filler may make some nervous, the clinical studies conducted for Aquamid have been encouraging thus far—plus, Aquamid's formula beats out Artefill's in terms of safety in more ways than one. First of all, Aquamid's use of a smooth hydrogel rather than microparticles makes the formula less likely to create noticeable lumps or hardening of the skin, which were both issues for some Artefill users. Secondly, allergic reactions from the injected formula are highly unlikely to occur with Aquamid, since it doesn't utilize animal collagen or animal products of any kind.
In European clinical studies of Aquamid, that spanned five years and tested patients at multiple clinics, very high satisfaction rates were noted among both patients and physicians—one New York dermatologist, Dr. Narins, who is a participating physician in the U.S. Aquamid trials, was quoted as saying that satisfaction levels for both parties in the European study averaged "above 90%".
On the whole, the potential risks of using dermal injectables is quite minimal compared to surgical procedures. However, more caution should be taken with a permanent filler like Aquamid, as opposed to hyaluronic acid fillers like Restylane and Juvederm. This is because temporary and hyaluronic acid fillers commonly use biodegradable substances, and if the treatment yields poor results, the effects will diminish with time. When it comes to using Aquamid, a patient's need for extensive research and a highly experienced cosmetic provider are absolutely crucial.
The biggest worry surrounding Aquamid injections, as mentioned above, is the possibility of poorly administered results. The odds of this happening will increase with reliance on an unlicensed, or inexperienced individual to administer Aquamid injections. If treatment results do turn out badly, even after taking all proper precautions, the Aquamid hydrogel can potentially be removed through an aspiration process.
Aquamid patients' most commonly experienced side effects are the same as those of other dermal injectables:
More serious side effects that have been reported in a very small percentage of cases include:
Remember that the best way to avoid side effects altogether, with any injectable treatment, is to have a basic understanding of what risks are at stake, know what can increase the likelihood of side effects for you, and trust only an experienced provider to administer your injections.
If the concept of permanent fillers still isn't for you, there are several temporary (but still long-lasting) options available that you might feel more comfortable with. Everyone is familiar on some level with BOTOX® Cosmetic, and the names of Dysport, Restylane and Juvederm are also gaining in praise and buzz. Selecting the best anti-aging injectable for you will depend on your personal treatment needs and goals, your cosmetic enhancement budget, and consideration of any specific skin conditions or health problems that could affect your treatment.
If you'd like to obtain more information about today's most popular dermal injectable treatments, or want to find out which filler will be most appropriate for you, visit a licensed cosmetic provider in your area for a treatment consultation. They can answer more of your questions about treatment, and recommend a filler or injectable based on your individual needs and characteristics.