Polymer microspheres, in particular injectable polymer particles with a diameter in the range of 30-300um, are becoming widely used as a biomaterial in different clinical fields, such as cosmetic surgery, reconstructive surgery, and urology. Injectable skin fillers offer many benefits in cosmetic dermatology, allowing new forms of facial rejuvenation and wrinkle treatment without surgery. Injectable skin and wrinkle fillers are used to increase tissue volume, reduce wrinkles, and improve skin’s overall contour.
According to The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, two formulations of fillers that are based on microsphere technology are FDA approved for use, differing in design and expected longevity of results. These injectable microspheres products are used for volume replacement and for deep facial wrinkles (such as the nasolabial folds.) They are not approved for use in the lips.
One of cosmetic dermatology products using injectable microspheres is ArteFill – a new breed of dermal filler that offers longer lasting results than other cosmetic filler injections. ArteFill (known as Artecoll outside of the United States) is made of polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) microspheres (miniature beads) that are suspended in bovine collagen. Tiny microspheres are made of non-resorbable polymethylmethacrylate – a biocompatable compound that has been used for years. PMMA has been used since the early 1930s in such common procedures as dental prostheses, eye lenses, bone repair, orthopedics and in pacemakers. PMMA microspheres are well tolerated by human tissue (no rejection).
When an ArteFill injection is given, the solution not only acts as a dermal filler, but its microspheres also stimulate the body to produce its own collagen. As the injected collagen slowly degrades naturally, the newly produced collagen replaces it. This gives ArteFill long-lasting, almost permanent results.
Another choice of microsphere-based cosmetic filler is Radiesse (or Radiance) – a next-generation cosmetic filler used in the treatment of deep lines and wrinkles around the nose and mouth including smile lines, marionette lines, and nasolabial folds. Similar to the makeup of ArteFill, Radiesse cosmetic filler has small microspheres (particles) suspended in a gel-like solution. There is no need for an allergy test prior to Radiesse filler injections since the microspheres are comprised of calcium hydroxylapatite, a substance naturally found in the body.
For the first three months after Radiesse treatment, it acts as a cosmetic filler, plumping up the skin and diminishing age lines. Then, Radiesse microspheres stimulate natural collagen growth, actually causing new tissue development for extended results (up to two years). In addition, Radiesse is useful in the treatment of facial lipoatrophy (a stigmatizing effect of HIV), vocal cord deficiencies, oral and maxillofacial defects, as well as scars and chin dimples.