Skin Care

By Kimberly McDonald

Just about everyone has heard about Hyaluronic Acid these days. In fact, the compound, which is found naturally in the human body, has been dubbed the Fountain of Youth. Therefore, it came as little surprise to me that it is stabilized Hyaluronic Acid that is used in the super-versatile dermal filler, Restylane.

When I met with Dr. Haideh Hirmand, assistant professor of plastic surgery at Cornell-Weill Medical College/NY Presbyterian Hospital, she explained that Restylane is practically the safest route to take to fill lines and plump lips, because its main component is inherent to the human body. She also explained it is one of the most pliable fillers, and said that once my injections were done we could literally manipulate the material under the skin to insure the desired effect. All that’s well and good, but all the assurance in the world wasn’t diverting my mind from what I feared most – the needle.

One of the best things about Dr. H (as I affectionately call her) is that she is a believer in anesthetics. A couple of shots into the gum (those needles are much smaller than the ones used to inject the Restylane – didn’t feel a thing!) and around the nasolabial folds (puppet lines) and I was numb to pain. As the anesthetic went to work, Dr. H and I discussed my desired outcome – a little fuller upper lip…a little less marionette mouth. She even advised me to get a dab of the magic potion in the small crease on my chin. I didn’t know I had a small crease in my chin until then…but by then I was drooling all over myself and decided to go for it.

Working the upper lip took about four injections; I say about, because I didn’t feel anything. The effect is immediate, so I actually watched her mold my upper lip, and I must say Dr. Hirmand is an artist. She understands proportion and structure aesthetics. She knew that in my case, more volume under the lip and less around the perimeter was the way to go. I was thrilled with the results.

A more involved project, the puppet lines required about five injections on each side and two to three across the chin crease. Within minutes (you could do all of this on your lunch break and be back at your desk, with your big ole juicy lips and diminished lines) I was able to see a marked difference. What impressed me most was the way Dr. H crafted each injection. I felt like I was in the hands of an artist. A couple of Tylenol and an ice pack held against the area for 15 to 20 minutes were the only ‘post-op’ instructions. I didn’t experience any bruising and the slight swelling was gone within a few hours.

The only draw back is that Restylane isn’t permanent. It isn’t really even long term. The lip injections lasted about two months, which can get pricey, especially in my case because I’m in love with my new lips. The rest of the area stayed a bit longer, three to four months (the company says up to six months for parts of your face that are not used as much as I apparently use my mouth). I expressed this concern to Dr. H, and here’s what she had to say: “I personally like the fact that Restylane is not permanent. It seems not intuitive but our faces are not static in time and they change…so why put things in it that are permanent and do not change with the face.”

Then she told me about a process called “layering”.

“I agree that it is not long term, depending on how you define the term, however with proper layering- which means having a second treatment within a month of the initial visit and subsequently every four months or so-the filler layers and seems to last longer and longer in most areas, except in the lips because of strong muscle action. In reality, most superficial lines do not come back if treated with this strategy for six to nine months,” she continued.

Restylane is NOT an animal-based hyaluronic acid. This means no risk of disease transmissions or allergic reactions to animal proteins. Moreover, I don’t want to know how they get animal-based hyaluronic acid. Another useful bit of information: if you really dislike the result (this means you didn’t listen to me and go to Dr. Hirmand) there is an injection you can get that will literally melt away the Restylane. You can erase your new Angelina Jolie lips and go back to your normal Kyra Sedgwick pucker.

Another trait of Dr. Hirmand’s I appreciate is that she is one of the top physicians when it comes to the cosmetic application of Restylane. She knows her stuff and will take time to explain everything, answer questions, and listen to you when you explain what you hope to get out of the procedure. She is so experienced with Restylane that she is leading the way in utilizing the product for under eye circles. If you’ve got them, you know who you are. Why not make an appointment and see if you’re a good candidate for the procedure. Dr. Hirmand is one of those honest professionals that isn’t just out to sell a procedure – she truly cares about the outcome and with her expertise, can evaluate your skin and under eye condition and give you some realistic expectations of the probable outcome.

Your skin will tell on you, don’t fool yourself. Late nights? Partying too hard? Not getting enough sleep or water? Sunning like some nimrod who hasn’t heard about skin cancer. Shaving a few years off your age anytime someone asks your age. With a little help from Restylane and Dr.H, you can pass yourself off as a staying home, eight-hour sleepin’, wouldn’t touch a glass of wine or cup of coffee (how can you, you drink tons of water every day!), SPF-wearing Gidget.

For more on Restylane go to www.Restylane.com. They’ll even help you find a doctor who has experience with their product. If you’re fortunate enough to live within reach of Dr. Hirmand, she’s located at 105 East 73rd Street in Manhattan, 212.744.4400.

Originally published November 2005
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