Health: The Injectables Handbook

Injectables: If you don’t yet know someone who’s tried them, you will soon enough. But if you haven’t experienced the results for yourself, you may still have questions.

Why are there so many? What’s the difference? How do I know what I need? Consider this your field guide to some of the most popular injectable products — what they do, who they’re for, and what they contain.

BOTOX COSMETIC®

The active ingredient: Botulinum toxin type A
Who it’s for: People with wrinkles caused by movement, such as crow’s feet

How it works: Plastic surgeon Dr. Otto Weiglein, who serves patients in the Hamilton area, says BOTOX has been approved for use in Canada since 2001. Now nearly ubiquitous, BOTOX is a safe, purified formulation of a neurotoxin that temporarily reduces muscle activity where it’s administered.

Instead of adding volume the way fillers do, BOTOX simply makes it more difficult for crinkles and lines to form in the first place. That’s why you’ll likely see them referred to as “wrinkle-smoothing injectables” on plastic surgery websites. Even if but you aren’t seeing wrinkles just yet, if you’re the kind of expressive person who furrows your brow often, BOTOX can also be used as a preventive measure to stave off those future wrinkles lying in wait.

BOTOX has been around for many years in the medical world for a number of uses beyond the cosmetic. It treats other conditions caused by excessive muscle movement or nerve signals, such as twitchy eyelids, chronic migraines, excessive sweating, or overactive bladders. Less commonly, it can also be used for other cosmetic indications, such as reducing the size of the jaw muscle in people who want to refine their profiles.

You may also hear about Dysport® or XEOMIN® COSMETIC™. Like BOTOX, they use botulinum toxin to smooth out wrinkles; they’re simply different formulations, and some surgeons or injectors prefer them to BOTOX.

The aftercare: BOTOX doesn’t require any special aftercare, but most clinicians advise taking it easy for the remainder of the day in order to allow the product to settle where it’s supposed to. It can take a few days for your results to develop, so patience is essential. When your final results emerge, you can expect them to last several months.

Dermal Fillers

The active ingredients: Different fillers use different active ingredients, although the most popular one is a gel formulation of hyaluronic acid. Found naturally throughout the body, hyaluronic acid plays a role in lubricating your joints, muscles, and cells. When injected, it’s readily accepted by the body.
Who it’s for: Fillers are a bit more versatile than BOTOX, since they can be used to reduce wrinkles as well as add volume to the cheeks, under-eye areas, and even the nose or the backs of the hands.

How it works: Fillers do just that — they add volume to “fill” wrinkles and any areas of lost volume. Volume loss is a major component of physical aging, and a gaunt face can make you look much older than you feel. Although hyaluronic acid-based fillers rely on this active ingredient to do the job, other fillers (e.g., Sculptra® Aesthetic) use ingredients that can stimulate your own collagen development. These are often more appropriate for addressing deeper creases or more dramatic volume loss, or producing longer-lasting results.

The aftercare: Like BOTOX, fillers are popular because patients can return to nearly all of their usual activities immediately afterward. However, it’s a good idea to avoid touching your treated area for the remainder of the day. Some doctors also recommend avoiding stooping, bending, or vigorous exercise for at least a few hours after treatment.

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