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What is ArteFill and who is a candidate for the procedure?

ArteFill is an injectable wrinkle filler that is used to diminish the appearance of deep furrows and lines on the face. Because ArteFill does not use absorbable ingredients, this treatment is considered a long term solution to wrinkles. This is an advantage over other types of wrinkle fillers that have to be repeated periodically to maintain the desired results.

The best candidates for ArteFill are patients who want to diminish the appearance of wrinkles on a permanent basis, have realistic expectations of results, and have used other types of filler treatments in the past. It can be used on nasolabial folds (smile lines), chin and lip augmentation and acne scars. It is not recommended for areas where the skin is significantly thinner, like the crow's feet at the corners of the eyes. This treatment is not used on people who have demonstrated an allergic reaction to bovine collagen. 

ArteFill was first introduced under the name ArteColl in Europe ten years ago. In 2006, the FDA approved the use of ArteFill in the United States for the treatment of nasolabial folds. The filler that is used in this treatment is composed of synthetic microspheres called polymethylmethacrylate, or PMMA, cow collagen and lidocaine. The PMMA does not reabsorb into the body; instead, it stimulates the body to produce its own collagen supply.

As the bovine collagen is absorbed over a period of weeks, newly produced collagen will take its place to ensure that the results of the procedure continue. Lidocaine is included in the injection to assist with the comfort of the patient both during and after the procedure.

How long will ArteFill last?

The main advantage ArteFill has over other wrinkle filler treatments is the length of time that patients will enjoy the positive results. While injections like Botox will only show results for a matter of months, and Radiesse lasts up to two years, ArteFill has been shown to be effective for five years or more. This is good news for patients who are tired of paying for regular injection treatments only to have to repeat the process in a matter of months.

How does the procedure work and what is the recovery like?

About one month prior to an ArteFill treatment, a patient will be asked to come in for a skin test to ensure there is no allergic reaction to the bovine collagen or hypersensitivity to the lidocaine. If the skin test comes back normal, the doctor will proceed with scheduling an appointment for the procedure.

The ArteFill treatment usually takes 15-20 minutes to complete, but it is not uncommon to require two sessions or more to achieve the desired results. These sessions are most often scheduled three to six weeks apart. Once the appropriate effect is achieved, no other treatments are generally necessary.

One of the most attractive aspects to ArteFill is that there is no recovery period needed after the procedure. Patients are able to leave the doctor's office and return to their normal activities right away in most cases. The lidocaine in the injection formula will keep the patient comfortable for some time after the treatment, so there is little discomfort, if any, after the treatment is completed. Results will be seen almost immediately, and will continue to improve over the course of the next few weeks and months.

What risks may be associated with ArteFill?

Injection fillers like ArteFill carry very little risk, especially when a skin test is conducted one month prior to the treatment. Side effects are rare, and may include swelling, discoloration, discomfort or sensitivity at the site of the injection. In some cases, a lump may also form at the injection site, which can be treated effectively with steroids or removed.

Patients may notice a feeling of firmness at the treatment location, which is generally not uncomfortable and usually goes away on its own with time. Risks can be greatly reduced by choosing a doctor who is board certified and experienced in the ArteFill procedure, and by participating in the skin test one month prior to treatment.

How much does ArteFill cost?

The average cost for an ArteFill treatment is $1200-$1500 per syringe. If a patient needs more than one session to achieve the desired result, this cost will need to be multiplied by the necessary number of sessions. Most insurance companies will not cover ArteFill because it is considered a cosmetic procedure. Many cosmetic dermatologists will often provide financing for patients to make it easier to pay for their cosmetic procedures.

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 Anti-Aging Staff
Updated: November 20, 2008

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