Soft tissue augmentation 2006: filler fantasy

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As an increasing number of patients seek esthetic improvement through minimally invasive procedures, interest in soft tissue augmentation and filling agents is at an all-time high. One reason for this interest is the availability of botulinum toxin type A, which works superbly in the upper face. The rejuvenation of the upper face has created much interest in injectable filling agents and implant techniques that work equally well in the restoration of the lower face. One of the central tenets of soft tissue augmentation is the concept of the three-dimensional face. The youthful face has a soft, full appearance, as opposed to the flat, pulled, two-dimensional look often achieved by more traditional surgical approaches. Injectable filling agents can augment and even at times, replace pulling. Additionally, with the lip as the focal center of the lower face, subtle lip enhancement is here to stay, and is in fact, the number one indication for injectable fillers. Moreover, minimally invasive soft tissue augmentation offers cosmetic enhancement without the cost and recovery time associated with more invasive procedures. As more and more physicians take interest in minimally invasive surgery, courses in cosmetic surgery techniques are becoming increasingly popular at the medical meetings of many specialties. Today, physicians have a much larger armamentarium of techniques and materials with which to improve facial contours, ameliorate wrinkles, and provide esthetic rejuvenation to the face. For a substance or device to be amenable for soft tissue augmentation in the medical community, it must meet certain criteria. It must have both a high “use” potential, producing cosmetically pleasing results with a minimum undesirable reactions, and have a low abuse potential in that widespread or incorrect or indiscriminate use would not result in significant morbidity. It must be nonteratogenic, noncarcinogenic, and nonmigratory. In addition, the agent must provide predictable, persistent correction through reproducible implantation techniques. Finally, the substance, agent or device must be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which assures purity, safety, and accessibility, as well as much-needed information regarding use. Having a thorough understanding of the filling agents available, their indications and contraindications, as well as having thorough knowledge of implant technique are vital in providing the patient with an esthetically pleasing result.

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