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Wrinkle Reduction Treatments: Botox, Collagen Injections, and Lasers

Wrinkles are undeniably one of the things that women dread the most. This tangible evidence that youth is behind them, drives many women to seek “cures” for their wrinkles regardless of the form or cost of the alleged “cure.” While lotions, creams, lasers, and injections promising wrinkle reduction treatments are plentiful, below you will find valuable information about three of the most popular wrinkle reduction treatments: Botox, Collagen injections, and laser therapy.

Wrinkle Reduction Treatment: Botox

Botox injections for wrinkle reduction represent the number one cosmetic procedure performed in North America year after year. Approved by the FDA in 1989 to help correct uncontrollable blinking (blepharospasm) and misaligned eyes (strabismus), Botox was later discovered to have an offshoot benefit—the temporary relaxation of facial muscles! The botulism toxin found in Botox prevents a person from moving the facial muscle it is injected into. It is the constant muscle contraction and relaxation in our face that eventually produces those lines and creases that people dislike so much. Eliminate the contraction part of that equation and you eliminate the wrinkle. This relaxing effect has come to be known as wrinkle reduction and has become quite popular. According to data on file at Allergan, Inc., more than 11.8 million Botox injections have been administered in the United States since 2002.

The popularity of Botox is unquestioned in treating wrinkles, but it is important that one understands that Botox is not for everyone. For one, Botox is a temporary solution and the success of the injection is directly related to the skill level of the practitioner administering the injection. If the practitioner miscalculates the injection site, the procedure may result in a droopy eyelid or some other form of unnatural appearance. Also, many people simply harbor a fear of needles and that fear may override a person’s desire for a wrinkle-free appearance.

Wrinkle Reduction Treatment: Collagen Injections

With the success of Botox injections for wrinkle reduction, it wasn’t long before other injectible treatments were developed to combat fine lines, facial creases, and wrinkles. Collagen injections appeared on the scene shortly after Botox was discovered to have a wrinkle reducing quality. Collagen is considered by many to be your skin’s greatest ally at preventing wrinkles. It naturally resides just beneath our skin’s surface and is responsible for providing our skin elasticity and plumpness. However, as we age, the levels of collagen we produce begin to decrease. Excessive exposure to the sun, air pollution, and cigarette smoking can further break down our own natural collagen, thus leading to premature wrinkles.

The concept behind the injection of collagen for wrinkle reduction is that it is meant to supplement your own naturally occurring collagen. The injections can be done using human or bovine (cow) collagen, both of which are acceptable to the human body, but not without risk as allergic reaction can occur. Synthetic forms of collagen for wrinkle reduction have been developed specifically to eliminate the possibility of allergic reaction. In either case, the injected collagen is designed to “plump” up the skin and support its own supply of collagen protein. However, this protein will eventually break down much like our own collagen does. Depending upon the site where the wrinkle reduction injection is made, the duration of benefit can last anywhere from 3 to 6 months.

Wrinkle Reduction Treatment: Lasers

There are many different types of lasers that can be used to promote wrinkle reduction, some of which are more aggressive than others. The skin resurfacing CO2 laser, for example, actually removes layers of skin, thrusting the body into a rapid recovery phase. This is a very aggressive treatment which can result in a week or more of downtime for the patient. The idea behind this wrinkle reduction technique is that the laser will remove the top few layers of skin, forcing the production of new skin to replace it.

Other wrinkle reduction lasers are not quite as aggressive as the skin resurfacing CO2 laser, but are still “ablative” which means they result in tiny cuts in the skin. Due to these tiny cuts, ablative lasers are still considered somewhat invasive. Though trauma to the skin is not as severe, skin recovery and an increase in collagen production will occur, thus resulting in wrinkle reduction.

Finally, there are non-invasive, non-ablative options whose sole purpose for wrinkle reduction is collagen remodeling. Some technologies such Electro-Optical Synergy, or elos, combine laser energy with electrical current in the form of bi-polar radio frequency to impart heat into the dermis of the skin, thus encouraging the body’s natural production of new collagen. Repeated treatments using this method actually begin to train your body to produce increased levels of collagen, even many months after treatments have finished.

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