Beauty is only skin-deep

Featured image
Alexandre Cabanel, Ophelia (1883).

It’s well established that an attractive face bestows desirability. While studies that have investigated facial attractiveness have focused mainly on features such as symmetry, there is accumulating evidence that skin quality is equally vital in determining physical appeal. Skin surface topography, in particular, seems to offer a strong visual cue of an individual’s age. In other words, smooth, vibrant, supple skin is as important as facial structure in conferring perceptions of youth and vitality and therefore, attractiveness.

“It’s all about hydration and skin quality,” according to Dr. Alexis Granite.

We know that neurotoxins like Botox, dermal fillers and peels can improve the appearance of facial skin. But what about the evasive plushness of youth? Enter booster shots. Not yet FDA approved in the US, they have been available in Europe since 2015.

Unlike fillers, skin booster treatments do not alter face shape by volumizing or accentuating certain features. Made up of naturally-occurring hyaluronic acid, they simply soften lines and wrinkles by providing intense subcutaneous moisturization. Skin becomes dewy and firmer-looking, radiating more of a glow. The results are subtle, but undeniable.

I recently had these shots at a London clinic and my complexion looked slightly plumper and smoother, indeed dewy. I received compliments about how fresh and well-rested I looked — and this was while being jet-lagged!

Dr. David Jack.

“It’s all about hydration and skin quality,” says board certified, London-based dermatologist Alexis Granite. “They’re a great option either for people who just want to enter into the field of aesthetic treatments, and don’t want to do anything too dramatic, but just want to have an overall glow-y, healthy looking skin.”

“It’s a nice thing to do if you’re slightly averse to the idea of fillers,” concurs London aesthetic doctor, David Jack. “I have a lot of patients that are terrified by fillers and afraid of looking like they’ve had anything done. But this treatment is great because it just makes your skin look nice and healthy.”

Manufactured in Italy and formulated with one of the highest concentrations of hyaluronic acid on the market, Profhilo is the skin booster of choice. Profhilo comprises non-crosslinked molecules of two types of hyaluronic acid of different molecular weights. Its unique composition allows it to melt smoothly and uniformly under the skin. As a result, “you cannot mess it up,” says London and Cyprus-based cosmetic doctor, Michael Prager.

Dr. Michael Prager.

“Profhilo is the only product you can inject anywhere you like in any amount. It will eventually spread and it won’t take that long. With filler, 90% of how it looks has to do with the skill of the practitioner, not the filler itself. Whereas with Profhilo, that makes zero difference. “For instance,” continues Prager, “normal fillers used in the under-eye area to treat hollowness, are always tricky. Whereas with the Profhilo, if you use a syringe under each eye, it has a very, very nice effect.”

An important added benefit is that over time, skin booster injections increase collagen production. “So, they don’t just act as a humectant. They’re also a chemical stimulant on to the skin, stimulating fibroblast cells to increase collagen and elastin,” explains Dr. Jack.

And that change is long lasting, particularly with Profhilo, according to Dr. Granite. “The general effect of the Profhilo — the glow and the hydration — will wear off in time. But eventually, if it’s something you repeat, you will build up collagen and elastin so you don’t quite end up back where you started.” Two treatments are recommended four weeks apart. Results last up to six months.

Unlike traditional dermal fillers, skin boosters like Profhilo are not injected beneath the skin in order to remodel the face. Rather, they are injected directly into the middle layer of the skin, the dermis, flooding dry, crepey skin with a hydrating dose of moisture-retaining hyaluronic acid. A superficial bolus initially forms at the strategically placed injection sites. These lumps begin to spread slowly, disappearing after 12-24 hours. Some temporary bruising and swelling may occur.

Primarily used on the face, Profhilo can also be used on multiple parts of the body. For example, “on the back of the hands and the neck, where the skin is paper thin, Profhilo is very good,” says Dr. Prager. Ditto for the chest, knees, abdomen and elbows, reveals to Dr. Jack.

Before and After Photos …

Known as the “injectable moisturizer,” Profhilo uses a combination of high-molecular weight and low-molecular weight hyaluronic acid. This allows for a slow subcutaneous release of the honey-like substance over an extended area, providing hydration while stimulating the production of collagen and elastin in the dermis, which in turn, tightens the skin. Photo: IBSA Nordic


Moreover, Profhilo is also an effective add-on to other treatments. “The main kind of new thing,” informs Dr. Jack, “is combining these bio-stimulating [i.e. collagen-producing] treatments together for optimal skin effects without having to use too much in the way of injectables.” To that end, skin boosters can be used as an adjunct to microneedling, PRP and IPL. “They’re very customizable and mix and matchable,” agrees Dr. Granite. “So, they’re great with other types of fillers, with Botox and all the neurotoxins and also as a top-up after a laser procedure.”

Except for some “baby Botox,” I have stayed away from injectables, afraid that I would not look like myself anymore, but I really liked the understated yet noticeable complexion-boosting results and will be making an appointment for another Profhilo treatment next time I am in London.

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