In the world of cosmetic treatments to reduce the signs of aging, you once had two options. You could opt for non-surgical injections, such as fillers and Botox, to temporarily minimize the signs of aging, such as lines and wrinkles., or, you could choose surgical options, such as facelifts and eyelid lifts, to create a more permanent result. The benefit of injectables is that they don’t require any downtime. The benefit of surgery is that it can generally do much more than an injection and lasts much longer.
Now, there’s an option available that combines the best of both worlds: Bellafill. The FDA first approved Bellafill, then known as Artefill, for treating nasolabial folds, in 2006. In 2014, the FDA approved the rebranded injectable for treating depressed, pitted acne scars, too. Unlike other fillers, which provide results for just a few months to a couple of years, the results from a treatment with Bellafill can last for up to five years.
What’s In It?
Bellafill contains collagen and polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA). The injectable is made up of about 80 percent collagen, from a bovine source and 20 percent PMMA. PMMA is material that is compatible with the human body. It’s been used in medical implants for nearly seven decades.
Your body won’t break down PMMA, so once it is injected beneath the skin, it is there to stay. While the PMMA microspheres found in Bellafill do remain the body permanently, you will keep aging, which is why the treatment only lasts for several years, not permanently.
How Does it Work?
Unlike some fillers, such as Sculptra, which provide long-lasting results but take several months to work, Bellafill provides instant volume when injected into the nasolabial folds or when used to fill in acne scars. The collagen in the filler is responsible for adding volume right away.
Over the course of several months, the collagen injected beneath the skin will break down and fade away. That’s when the effects of the PMMA are seen. PMMA spheres remain behind after the collagen has broken down. They help create a support structure for the skin and help stimulate the body’s natural production of collagen.
Like other injectables, there isn’t any downtime required after treatment with Bellafill. You’ll be able to return to your usual activities almost right away. There might be some side effects, such as swelling, redness, bruising and itchiness at the site of the injection. Some people also notice bumps just beneath the surface of their skin. Typically, the side effects fade after a week or so.
In many cases, the surgeon might underfill the treated area, to avoid creating an unnatural looking result. You might see the surgeon for a follow-up appointment after about four weeks, and he might recommend an additional treatment to further correct the area.
Choosing an Injector
It’s important to choose your injector carefully before treatment. You want to find someone who is experienced in performing Bellafill (or previously, Artefill) injections. Ideally, you’ll work with a board certified plastic surgeon who has years of experience performing procedures on the face and who fully understands facial anatomy. When you are interviewing surgeons, ask how frequently he performs the injections and if you can see photographs of previous patients. It can also be helpful to speak with past patients, to get a sense of what they thought of Bellafill and to see if they would recommend the treatment and the surgeon.
Dr. George Bitar and Dr. Larry Lickstein are board certified plastic surgeons that offer Bellafill and a variety of other injectables at the Bitar Cosmetic Surgery Institute located outside Washington, DC. To learn more about the benefits of Bellafill, either to treat lines or acne scars, make an appointment for a consultation today. Call (703) 206-0506 to schedule your consultation.
George Bitar, MD, FACS is an award-winning, board-certified cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgeon, the Founder and Medical Director of Bitar Cosmetic Surgery Institute in Virginia. He specializes in the latest surgical and minimally invasive techniques to scar management and reduction. Dr. Bitar is involved in groundbreaking research and education in plastic surgery and has authored numerous articles, abstracts, and chapters.