The science of injectables: how botulinum and hyaluronic acid fillers work

To understand the science behind injectables, we need to start with why they’re so popular and what problems they’re designed to solve. Most often, a person selects injectables because they aren’t happy with the signs of aging appearing on their face or body in the form of wrinkles. They can also be used for migraines and other medical conditions but for now, let’s focus on wrinkles. 

Wrinkles are caused by sustained overutilization of specific muscles. This is a normal part of aging, as we all have unique expressions and asymmetry. Mark Twain famously said, “wrinkles should merely indicate where the smiles have been.” This is partially true. Over time, repeated use of specific muscle groups leads to noticeable wrinkles. 

Clostridium botulinum is a naturally occurring bacteria that can block the transmission of nerve impulses and the signal where the nerve meets your muscle when introduced into the body. It does this by releasing an important neurotransmitter called acetylcholine, which naturally is released by nerve impulses, allowing the muscle that is being controlled by the nerve to contract. By blocking that acetylcholine release, botulinum causes paralysis of the muscle.

It kind of sounds scary, but it’s not — especially if you pick the right kind of product and work with a trained and prepared medical professional.

To achieve a cosmetically desirable effect, scientists have purified and controlled this naturally-occurring compound to safely inject tiny doses into problem areas on the face. The net effect is the relaxation of those treated muscle groups. This works to help reverse the aging process and quiet muscular contractions — affording patients the natural and beautiful results we all know and love!

Similarly, hyaluronic acid is a naturally-occurring mucopolysaccharide present in each of us. It’s ubiquitous throughout our skin, soft tissue, connective tissues, joints, and many other places, including the eyes and heart. Critically, it helps our bodies bind water, allowing us to stay hydrated and keep our skin looking healthy, full, and smooth. 

With normal aging, the amount of hyaluronic acid in our body – particularly our skin – declines, leaving us susceptible to deeper wrinkles and loose skin. Injectables such as Belotero® injections replenish the natural hyaluronic acid in our bodies, allowing for increased water retention. The net effect is skin with more fullness, body, and smoothness.

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