things to try before fillers

Earlier this year, a report published in JAMA Opthamology drew attention to patients who had suffered vision loss after having dermal fillers injected into their foreheads. Although fillers are often used to obscure wrinkles around the eyes, it should be noted that the FDA only approves use of fillers around the mouth area.

Still, compared to Botox and plastic surgery, dermal fillers seem relatively benign. One of the best known is Restylane, which in recent years emerged on the beauty scene to be hailed as a more durable alternative to collagen, which typically only lasts about three months. Restylane is essentially a synthetic version of hyaluronan and lasts about six months. A similar product. Juvederm, was approved by the FDA in 2006.

If the idea of injecting a foreign substance distresses you, then you might be drawn to Sephyl. Dubbed the "Vampire Filler," it is made out of the patient’s own blood. According to the Selphyl website, when the platelet mixture (platelet-rich fibrin matrix or PRFM) is injected under the skin, skin cell growth and collagen support occur. But there are no independent studies that prove these claims.

A few years ago, researchers found that it is possible to replace fat cells lost due to age by blocking a protein called RHAMM. They predicted that within a few years, this approach would be a non-invasive alternative to Botox and fillers. Unfortunately, we are still waiting. So what else can we try before submitting to fillers? Well, there are some skin-plumping actives that we can incorporate into regimen through potions and lotions.

1. Arabinoxylans

Arabinoxylans are responsible for the cohesion and mechanical resistance cells. They are most abundant in the cells of grains such as rye, wheat and barley. Extracts from these are said to act as an internal tensor, boosting the skin’s abilities to firm and lift.

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Osmotics Lipofill Non-Surgical Filler ($73) has rye extract to target the loss of volume for hands and neck, as well as the labial nasal lines. Prana Spaceuticals AU 24K GOLD Serum ($96) has wheat extract and gold flakes, which are also supposed to be skin plumping.

2. Saccharide isomerate

Saccharide isomerate works as a moisture regulator by binding to the free amino groups of lysine in the keratin of the outer layer of the epidermis — and thereby plumping the skin. It is in the above-mentioned Osmotics Lipofill Non-Surgical Filler and can also be found in Your Best Face Define ($70 in the shop), the one thing that has stood between me and lip fillers for the past few years.

3. Tripeptide 1

YBF Define also reminded me about tripeptide-1. This peptide mimics the relationship of the growth factors involved in the healing process and synthesis of collagen. Specifically, it is supposed to stimulate the synthesis of collagen I and III, fibronectin and laminin. As a result tripeptide-1 helps plump and redefine. It can be found in Osmotics Anti-Radical Age Defense Moisture Complex ($110)

4. TGF-beta

This is the mother of epidermal growth factors. At the very least it is rather bossy, telling other growth factors what to do. This is a “super” protein that controls cell functions such as growth and proliferation. Studies at Cornell, Vanderbilt and Jefferson show that TGF-beta stimulates collagen and elastin production.

It is found in abundance in whey protein, which is the key ingredients in E'shee's Multi-Tensor Extreme Face Lift Serum ($159) and aimed at plumping and firming the skin. ReLuma Skin Illuminating Serum ($145-$220) uses a complex formula of growth factors, including TGF-beta, to signal skin cells and produce new collagen.

5. Microcurrent

It works by delivering a tiny charge that stimulates facial muscles. Microcurrent mimics the body’s own electrical impulses and it is as if the brain is effectively re-educating muscles that have started to slacken with age and helps the relocate to where they should be. Regular use will restore proper tone to facial and neck muscles.

The Myotone Facial Toning System ($279) is easy to use, and the results, which include firmer and plumper skin, are impressive. A little plumping is initially visible, but the effects of microcurrent are cumulative and become more apparent over time. I’ve been concerned about a little sagging at the sides of my chin and have been putting Myotone to good use. I am noticing enough plumping to postpone calling a dermatologist.


Marta Wohrle is an anti-aging skin care and beauty expert and the founder/CEO of Truth In Aging. Marta is dedicated to uncovering the truth behind anti-aging product claims.

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