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Better Than Botox?

By: Call For Action Reporter Betty Sexton
By: Call For Action Reporter Betty Sexton

First it was plastic surgery and facelifts. Then, Botox injections and chemical peels. Now, doctors have a new treatment---aimed at fighting those lines and wrinkles that just seem to “appear” on our faces as we get older!

Call For Action reporter Betty Sexton takes a look at this new product in a her special investigation, “Better Than Botox?”

There’s a new gel that has women lining up to see their dermatologists. They're excited about trying Restylane, which was just approved by the Food and Drug Administration last month.

One woman who tried it is Leona Breaker. She’s 46 years old and works in film production. "I just have to have a certain presence." Pam Cullen, also 46, says now that her children are grown, “It's time to start doing things for me."

Both ladies sought out cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Susan Ellis. She recommended trying the new collagen, Restylane, to enhance their looks. Anesthesia is administered so the patients don't feel the needle pokes. Then a few minutes later, the gel is injected right into their skin. The goal is to fill in those areas once occupied by lines and wrinkles. Dermatologist Dr. Nate Trookman is now using Restylane on some of his patients.

Restylane, which looks clear, is made of Hyaluronic Acid. That is a natural substance. And because it isn't derived from cows, like traditional, bovine collagen, doctors say there's no fear of allergies. "You don't need to be test-dosed before, so you can have this done at anytime," says Dr. Trookman.

But doctors say Restylane's biggest benefit is its longevity. "Traditional collagens would last three to four months. Restylane lasts six months, nine months, and in rare individuals, even twelve months," says Dr. Ellis.

But is it better than Botox? Both doctors say it's not fair to compare the two. "I wouldn't call it better than Botox because it's different from Botox. They're very different compounds," says Dr. Trookman.

This is Dr. Ellis’ take on it: "Botox is used to paralyze muscles. So if you have lines that are produced by frowning or muscular movement, it's going to dissipate those lines. Collagen will work to dissipate some of those lines, but it also will work on lines that are not caused by underlying muscle movement."

In fact, both doctors say on some patients, they'll use Botox and Restylane together. And the gel can also be used to fill in the lips, which doctors say turn inward as we age.

Although both doctors are thrilled with the results, they caution that Restylane isn't a wrinkle cure-all and it isn't for everyone. "If they're 70 to 80 years old and they have really deep lines and wrinkles, they probably need a facelift, so it doesn't substitute for a facelift. But it is a great filler for superficial lines and wrinkles," says Dr. Trookman. “There are people out there that want something's that's permanent---that lasts forever. But forever is a very, very long time and people may change the way they feel about their looks," says Dr. Ellis.

Depending on how many packages are used, Restylane can cost anywhere from $400 to $1,300 per treatment.

Three of the four patients we interviewed for this report are very happy with the results---saying they'd do it again. "I'm amazed at how fast it works. You know, usually something like this, you would think a couple of days, you know, a couple of hours. This was just minutes!" said Pam Cullen. "I recommend it highly. I do. I enjoy it. I like it a lot!" said Leona Breaker.

However, the one patient who was unhappy with Restylane described it as “painful with minimal results.” She complained of bruising and swelling.

The doctors say everyone's different and results will vary from patient to patient.


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