Age can bring many positive things -- experience, wisdom, self-awareness -- but it also brings some visual reminders of the years gone by, like wrinkles and sagging skin. People may not mind getting older, but most don't want to look older, and they'll do anything they can to avoid it.
Making lines and droopy skin disappear used to be the domain of dramatic measures like face-lifts and tummy tucks, but now many people who want to avoid surgery turn to less invasive procedures like Botox and collagen injections. Radiesse, a semipermanent dermal filler, is another nonsurgical product that people can use to decrease the facial signs of aging.
Also known as skin fillers, dermal fillers are injected under a person's skin to reduce wrinkles and lines on the surface. Collagen, hyaluronic acid and fat are all commonly used as dermal fillers. Fillers are less invasive than a face-lift, but they also don't last nearly as long -- some no longer than a few months [source: Mayo Clinic].
Radiesse in particular can smooth out deep wrinkles and lines around the nose and mouth. It can also add contours to areas of the face that have lost their shape due to sagging skin, such as the cheeks and jaw line [source: Mayo Clinic]. But what really sets Radiesse apart is that it stimulates the growth of new collagen, the protein in your skin that gives it a smooth texture and youthful elasticity. Radiesse is made up of synthetic calcium hydroxylapatite suspended in a gel [source: FDA]. As the gel is absorbed by the body, it leaves the calcium hydroxylapatite behind. But your body's natural collagen eventually fills in the space that the gel left behind.
This may sound good, but it's not all there is to know about Radiesse. Read on learn whether or not these treatments are actually effective.
Effectiveness of Radiesse
When it comes to cosmetic treatments like Radiesse, measuring effectiveness usually boils down to two simple questions: How good does it look, and how long does it last?
To answer the first question, take a look at how dermal fillers work. The fillers are injected into the skin, giving it a fuller appearance, much in the same way the surface of a balloon becomes smooth as it fills with air. Surgeons sometimes overfill an area to make treatment last longer -- especially when using natural fillers like human, cow or pig collagen -- because they know the body will quickly absorb the filler [source: Mayo Clinic].
When using Radiesse, however, surgeons don't need to overfill an area, so you're not going to have to live with extra-puffy cheeks for a month until you get down to the optimal amount of filler [source: FDA]. On the other hand, Radiesse isn't as effective for lips or areas around the eyes, so if you want a lusciously full smile or you're desperate to get rid of crow's feet, you might want to explore other options [source: FDA].
The effects of Radiesse can last from one to three years, depending on the severity of the lines and areas of the face that are treated [source: Mayo Clinic]. That's a good track record -- compared to the lifespan of other skin fillers, three years is a long time [source: ASAPS].
To find out how much these long-lasting good looks will cost you, read on.
Cost of Radiesse
Although the price you pay for a Radiesse treatment will vary from doctor to doctor, its cost will also depend upon your particular needs. Plan to set aside about $900 to $1,000 for a basic treatment. That's about twice the cost of procedures using other common dermal fillers. Collagen injections range from $400 to $500, and hyaluronic acid treatments average just over $500.
Of course, because of Radiesse's longer-lasting effects, it might end up being cheaper over time. After all, collagen treatment requires a boost after as few as three months, and hyaluronic acid only lasts about a year at best, compared to Radiesse's two or three [source: ASAPS].
Remember, though, that each person's needs are different. You'll need to hammer out the details with your physician from the outset. If you require anesthesia, if you want more than one injection of Radiesse, or if you live in an area where the demand for Radiesse treatments is high, you might end up paying more [source: Docshop].
On the upside, many doctors are willing to offer patients financing for treatments, and some even run specials on Radiesse. If you decide to try a Radiesse treatment, you'll want to shop around a little to find the best deal, as well as a doctor you trust. Some insurance companies may even pay for your treatment. For example, if Radiesse is part of your treatment for facial lipoatrophy (facial wasting) due to HIV, you may be eligible for an insurance reimbursement [source: Docshop].
But even if the price is right, there are some other things you should know before you take the plunge. Read on to find out what the side effects of Radiesse entail.
Radiesse Side Effects
Any procedure involves an element of risk, and it is up to you to weigh those risks with the benefits and determine if it's worth it. There are some adverse side effects associated with Radiesse injections, although these are -- for the most part -- minor discomforts due to the nature of the procedure and not a result of the product itself.
The main side effect associated with dermal fillers in general is allergic reaction. However, Radiesse carries almost no risk of allergic reaction. Beyond checking to see if you have any known allergy to one of the ingredients in Radiesse, your doctor will not even need to test your skin for an allergic reaction to the product. This is because calcium hydroxylapatite, the main ingredient in Radiesse, is a substance that is naturally found in the body. It is one of the main components of bone. As a result, it is very unlikely to trigger an allergic reaction [sources: Docshop, FDA].
As with any injection, though, there is a slight risk of infection at the point of contact after a Radiesse treatment, especially if the skin in that area is already inflamed or infected [source: FDA]. Additionally, minor bruising and swelling at the injection site are not uncommon, and some patients also report numbness and tingling [source: Docshop]. Pain, itching and redness around the treated area can also occur, and some doctors warn that patients may experience mild headaches and nausea after the treatment -- although these problems don't usually last very long [source: FDA, Docshop].
In fact, the side effects of Radiesse are usually so mild that people are able to assume their normal schedules right away after the procedure [source: ASAPS]. And any side effects you do experience should disappear within a few days after the treatment -- just like your wrinkles.
Read on to find out even more about improving aging skin.
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
- American Osteopathic College of Dermatology. "Dermal Fillers." (Accessed 7/20/09)http://www.aocd.org/skin/dermatologic_diseases/dermal-fillers.html
- American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. "ASAPS Procedure Quick Facts." (Accessed 7/20/09)http://www.surgery.org/media/news-releases/asaps-procedure-quick-facts-
- BioForm. "Radiesse® Aesthetic."http://www.bioform.com/products/radiesse-aesthetic.html
- Consumer Guide to Cosmetic Surgery. "Injectable Fillers Overview." (Accessed 7/20/09)http://www.yourplasticsurgeryguide.com/injectables-and-fillers/injectable-fillers.htm
- DocShop.com. "Radiesse Cosmetic Filler." (Accessed 7/20/09) http://www.docshop.com/education/dermatology/injectables/radiesse/
- DocShop.com. "Risks and Benefits of Radiesse Treatment." (Accessed 7/20/09)http://www.docshop.com/education/dermatology/injectables/radiesse/risks-benefits/
- FDA. "Radiesse Injectable Implant Instructions for Use." (Accessed 7/20/09)http://www.fda.gov/ohrms/dockets/AC/06/briefing/2006-4233b1_10.pdf
- Mayo Clinic. "Facial Fillers for Wrinkles." (Accessed 7/20/09)http://www.MayoClinic.org/facial-fillers/
- Radiesse. "Uses & Limitations." (Accessed 7/20/09)http://radiesse.com/pages/Uses/limitations.php?>
- Reuters. "BioForm Medical to Launch New 1.5cc RADIESSE(r) Volume Advantage Syringe and 0.8cc RADIESSE Moderate Fill Syringe; Announces Successful Results of RADIESSE Dermal Filler With Lidocaine Clinical Study." 3/6/09. (Accessed 7/20/09)http://www.reuters.com/article/pressRelease/idUS108437+06-Mar-2009+GNW20090306
- The Wall Street Journal. "BioForm Medical Soars On FDA OK For Radiesse Mixing Method." 7/16/09. (Accessed 7/20/09)http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-20090716-709839.html