ArteFill to Fight Aging Skin

What Is Artefill?

Artefill is an injectable dermal filler formulated from polymethylmethacrylate microspheres and bovine collagen. Polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) is a thermoplastic that has been used for decades in medical applications, including cosmetic and orthopedic surgery, because of its compatibility with human tissue. Collagen is a naturally occurring protein in the human body which provides support to the skin and gives it a firm and supple appearance.

How Does Artefill Work?

The protein collagen is the substance responsible for preserving the skin's firmness of tone and providing it with a general support structure. As the skin ages, the collagen fibers in the lower layer of the skin break down, resulting in lines, wrinkles, and depressions in the skin's surface. The collagen gel in the Artefill preparation that is injected into the skin serves as a carrier for the PMMA microspheres. The collagen in Artefill provides volume and support to sagging skin, plumping the tissue and smoothing out wrinkles and lines. Although the collagen gel is gradually reabsorbed by the body, the PMMA microspheres remain. Not only do the PMMA microspheres act to sustain the corrective effects of the collagen and provide volume and support for the skin, but they also apparently stimulate the production of natural collagen in the skin cells, which contributes to the long-lasting effects of Artefill.

What Areas of The Body Does Artefill Treat?

Artefill is used on the skin of the face to treat smile lines, frown lines, and other lines and wrinkles that form in the facial skin as a result of the aging process. However, Artefill should generally not be used on the thinnest skin of the face, specifically the skin of the eyelids and the skin immediately surrounding the eyes. Thus, many doctors advise against the use of Artefill on crow's feet.

What Are The Advantages of Artefill Over Other Similar Treatments?

The PMMA microspheres in Artefill are non-resorbable; that is, they are not absorbed by the human body. Therefore, the results of Artefill are long-lasting. The effects of injectable fillers that are composed primarily of collagen or hyaluronic acid, both natural substances that are broken down and absorbed by the body, wear off in a matter of months, requiring repeated treatments. The effects of Artefill, on the other hand, last indefinitely. Patients in clinical studies have reported continued satisfaction with the results achieved from the procedure for up to five years following the administration of Artefill injections. In addition, many patients feel that the effects of Artefill appear more natural than those achieved with other dermal filler injections, which are also temporary.

Who Is A Candidate for Artefill?

The best candidate for Artefill injections is a physically and psychologically healthy individual between the ages of 35 and 60 who has begun to notice the effects of aging on the skin. Almost anyone can undergo Artefill injections, although there are a few important exceptions. Artefill contains bovine collagen, as well as a small amount of lidocaine, which serves as a mild local anesthetic and painkiller during the procedure. Therefore, Artefill is contraindicated for patients who have exhibited allergic reactions or other sensitivity to cow products or lidocaine in the past. The FDA also advises against administering Artefill to any patient who has a history of severe allergies resulting in episodes of anaphylaxis, no matter what the triggering agent. In addition, FDA guidelines state that Artefill is contraindicated for individuals who are susceptible to the formation of keloids or other forms of heavy scarring.

How Are Artefill Injections Performed?

Artefill injections are performed in a doctor's office or medical spas by a professional trained to administer the treatment. Patients must undergo a skin test to rule out an allergy to cow products prior to the procedure since Artefill contains bovine collagen. The doctor will apply an antiseptic to the skin to prevent infection and a topical local anesthetic to reduce patient discomfort. During the procedure itself, the doctor injects the Artefill preparation directly into the dermis, the lower layer of skin, below the lines and wrinkles that have been designated for treatment. Although there may be some discomfort at the injection sites, there is minimal pain, if any, involved in the procedure. The Artefill preparation contains a small amount of lidocaine, a local anesthetic, which serves to reduce patient discomfort as the injections proceed. The patient will return to the doctor's office in four to six weeks to evaluate the effects of the Artefill treatment. If the patient and doctor together decide that the effects of the Artefill treatment could be enhanced, then the patient may choose to undergo another session of Artefill injections. Most patients achieve the desired results after one or two Artefill treatments, although a minority of patients will undergo a series of three or four treatment before they are satisfied with their appearance. The number of treatments required will depend on the number and depth of the lines and wrinkles in the facial skin of the individual patient.

What Is The Recovery From Artefill Injections Like?

The effects of Artefill on lines and wrinkles in the face is immediately apparent. Because no general anesthetic is used, Artefill patients can return to their normal activities directly after completion of the procedure. It is normal to experience some redness, swelling, and tenderness at the injections sites, but these side-effects generally disappear within 24 to 48 hours.

What Will The Results of Artefill Be Like?

A patient who undergoes Artefill injections can expect to see the full effects of the treatment immediately after the procedure. In addition, the skin has a completely natural appearance after the Artefill procedure, which provides Artefill patients with a distinct advantage over those receiving straight collagen injections. Because collagen is so quickly reabsorbed into the body, doctors often inject more collagen than needed which results in a "full" look immediately after the procedure. Patients undergoing collagen injections may need to wait days or even weeks for this "fullness" to subside and their skin to appear truly "natural." Unlike collagen injections, Artefill injections do not require this type of initial "over-application" in order to achieve the patient's desired results.

What Are The Risks of Artefill?

Beyond temporary redness, swelling, or tenderness at the injection sites, adverse reactions to Artefill are rare.

In some patients, bruising may occur at the injection sites but will generally disappear within three to seven days after the procedure. More infrequently, patients may experience rash, itching, or persistent swelling and redness at the injection sites. The most serious side-effects reported after treatment with Artefill injections have been lumps in the skin known as granulomas. Again, however, this side-effect is very rare, occurring in well under one percent of all Artefill patients. Because Artefill contains bovine collagen, there is a risk of an allergic reaction in patients who are sensitive to cow products. For that reason, a skin test is required prior to the procedure to rule out the presence of such an allergy in a potential Artefill recipient.

Is Artefill Approved for Use in The U.S.?

In 2006, the FDA approved Artefill for use in the United States as a treatment of "smile lines," the deep lines and wrinkles that tend to form in the nasolabial folds between the bottom of the nose and the corners of the mouth. However, many doctors also use Artefill for the "off-label" purpose of treating lines and wrinkles that form in the skin covering other areas of the face.

Is Artefill Covered by Insurance Companies?

Because Artefill is used for purely cosmetic purposes, it is generally not covered by health insurance.

Disclaimer: This information is intended only as an introduction to this procedure. This information should not be used to determine whether you will have the procedure performed nor does it guarantee results of your elective surgery. Further details regarding surgical standards and procedures should be discussed with your physician.

By Staff
Updated: November 24, 2009