Monday, November 18, 2013

My Experience with Radiesse

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For the past few months, I’ve been noticing that I have quite a “bitch face” going when I’m not smiling. The large lines between my nose and mouth and the lines from my mouth towards my chin (the nasolabial folds and the oral commissures). About that same time, I had my yearly “body check” at my dermatologists office and picked up brochures for Radiesse and Juvederm. After consulting with the dermatologist, I decided to schedule an appointment for Radiesse injections.

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Radiesse is a substance that is injected into the skin to add volume to areas that have lost it. Also known as a “dermal filler” it is a non surgical way to help the face look younger (by plumping the skin) and contains Calcium Hydroxylapatite (CaHA) microspheres suspended in a gel. Once it is injected into the lines of the face, it provides an immediate “correction” to the loss of volume and it encourages the skin to produce collagen as time goes on. My dermatologist  (Dr. Julie Tran of Affiliated Dermatologists of Virginia. Click here to visit their website) said that it should last about a year, but that will depend on the person.

Before Radiesse with arrows
As we age, our skin stops producing collagen (the connective tissue in skin) and our face sags. The red arrows show the impact of this sagging. Around the eyes, this is most noticed in the tear troughs, which is the area under the eyes and near the nose. As this area heads south, we also think that we’re getting “dark circles” when that’s actually the skin thinning and the blood vessels showing thru as that area sags. The bottom four arrows show the impact that is seen as the skin above loosens. For those of us with chubbier cheeks (like me), as the skin loosens, the naso labial fold area (from the sides of the nose to the sides of the mouth) becomes more prominent. The same thing happens with the area from the sides of the mouth towards the chin. I have deeper folds on the right side of my face (the left side of the screen) than the left. Dr. Tran thought I’d be a good candidate for Radiesse so I decided to try it. She does not do the injections in the tear trough area (she refers patients to a plastic surgeon) but has been performing injections for over ten years (lots of experience, which is what you want if someone is injecting things into your face!).

Before Radiesse with and without makeup

The picture above shows my face right before I left for the appointment. In case it’s not obvious, I’m wearing makeup in the picture in the right and no makeup in the picture on the left. Once I got to the derm’s office, she removed the makeup from the bottom part of my face (remember, I just had the injections done to the folds around my nose and mouth). Dr. Tran’s assistant had me read and initial all of the paperwork, which included all of the potential side affects of Radiesse. If you’re taking aspirin to thin your blood (which I do), you must stop taking it a week or so before the injections. I was also given 5 arnica tablets to hold under my tongue as a way to minimize bruising. While I was signing the paperwork, Dr. Tran mixed the Radiesse with lidocaine, which numbs the area to which it comes in contact. More on that later. Once we were ready to go, I held an icepack to my face to aid in numbing; then Dr. Tran began a series of injections in the fold on the right side of my face. OK, here’s the deal---it really stung. The sting was all about the needle entering into the skin and not the substance being injected into the skin (if you’ve ever had anesthesia, you know what I mean---the needle prick doesn’t hurt but the anesthesia burns going into the veins---this is exactly the opposite). I have a pretty high pain tolerance but this definitely stung. Once she had done three or four injections into the right side of my face, she moved to the left. The same thing happened on that side---stinging upon the pricking of the skin.

Once the first pass was done on the left side, Dr. Tran moved back to the right. This is where the lidocaine comes in (that she mixed with the Radiesse). By the time she started injecting again on the right side, that area was numb and wasn’t nearly as painful as the first time around. All the while, Dr. Tran swabbed the small amount of blood that was present at the injection sites. After finishing the naso labial folds, she moved on to the lines that start at the corners of my mouth. Again, there was a strong sting as the needle entered the skin. Dr. Tran explained to me that after she was finished, the inside of my mouth would feel bumpy if I ran my tongue against the sides of my cheeks. Sure enough, it felt like tiny little marbles under the skin but did not feel the same if pressing my fingers on the skin from the outside. The bumpy feeling went away after a few hours. Once the injections were finished, I was able to check out Dr. Tran’s work in a mirror. I immediately noticed a difference! How gratifying!!! She explained that I would probably feel some swelling and maybe some discomfort for 24 hours. Dr. Tran also gave me her cell phone number to call if I had severe pain (you should NEVER have severe pain from this procedure) as that can signify a serious side effect that should be corrected immediately. About thirty minutes after arriving in the exam room, I was heading back home.

Radiesse after injection 1.5 hours picture 3

The picture above shows what I looked like an hour and a half after the injections. I am wearing no makeup on the bottom half of my face. You can see the areas where Dr. Tran injected the Radiesse, at least in the nasolabial fold area. It’s harder to see the actual injection sites below the sides of my mouth but they are there! There was a small amount of bleeding right after each injection and my face was very red immediately after the injections, but the redness had dissipated by the time these pictures were taken. In addition to the injections in the folds, she also did one injection higher up on my right cheek (the left side of the screen) because the folds are deeper on that side of the face. By increasing the volume slightly in the cheek, the entire cheek is automatically lifted, minimizing the nasolabial fold even more. You can see that I already have a small amount of bruising on the left side of my face (right side of your screen) but it’s really minimal. Later on that evening, I had a fair amount of swelling around my mouth and it was a little bit tender to the touch. By the following afternoon, the swelling and tender feeling was completely gone. I didn’t end up taking any pain killers at all.

Radiesse 24 hours after injection picture 1
Twenty-four hours after the injections, I had a small amount of bruising but the tenderness around my mouth had gone away by the time this picture was taken.

Radiesse 3 days after injection
Three days later, this is what I looked like with makeup. You can barely see the bruising, thanks to my trusty Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage concealer! You can already see that the lines are quite a bit less prominent than they were in my “before” pictures. The bruising had completely faded by the fifth day.

Radiesse No makeup 3 weeks after

Radiesse with Makeup 3 weeks after picture 2
Both pictures, above, were taken about three weeks after my Radiesse injections. Needless to say, I’m pretty darn happy with the results! I’ll be monitoring my progress and will update you as time goes on. It’s highly likely that I will get Radiesse again in the next year or so. One thing I will probably do next time, though, is ask my doctor for a lidocaine cream to apply about 30 minutes before my appointment. That way, my skin will be nice and numb and I won’t feel the sting of the initial injections. See below for a side by side picture comparison.

before after Radiesse no makeup
Before Radiesse (left) and After Radiesse, wearing no makeup

before after Radiesse with makeup
Before Radiesse (left) and After Radiesse, wearing makeup

So what do you think? Have you ever had Radiesse or any other dermal filler? Tell me about your results!

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