INNOVATOR: COSMETIC DERMATOLOGY
The season finale of The Swan drew 9 million viewers. More than 6 million Americans have tried Botox. It’s no surprise, then, that the quest for the next “miracle” beauty treatment is more intense than ever. Neil Sadick, a Park Avenue cosmetic dermatologist and researcher, is at the forefront of two of the most talked-about new alternatives—non-ablative lasers and injectable wrinkle “fillers.”
Sadick, who has been involved in clinical trials that contributed to FDA approvals in both areas, has been working with lasers since the eighties. Early versions were effective—they smoothed wrinkles and gave skin a plumper, more youthful look—but they burned the surface of the skin in the process, leaving patients red-faced and sore for months.
Non-ablative lasers are designed to produce similar youth-enhancing effects without producing skin damage. In a study involving a laser device called Polaris, for example, Sadick found that three quarters of patients treated with the machine showed skin tightening and improvement of eye wrinkles, with wrinkle depth reduced by 50 percent. The machine works by stimulating collagen growth, and while the effects are more subtle than with traditional laser peels, skin becomes gradually firmer and more youthful-looking after several treatments. The effect typically lasts anywhere from six months to two years, and the treatment causes little or no redness.
Sadick is also a leader in the development of the injectable wrinkle fillers known as hyaluronic acids. Approved by the FDA within the past year under the names Restylane and Hylaform, the acids are derivatives of a substance produced naturally by the body whose normal function is to attract water. In its cosmetic use, the acid is injected as a clear gel into the face, where it draws water to the skin, reducing creases, crow’s feet, and smile lines, and giving skin a fuller, more vibrant appearance.
In Sadick’s studies, he found that hyaluronic acid derivatives plumped better than collagen derivatives, the filler of choice for many years. When Restylane was injected in one side of the face and collagen in the other, the Restylane side lasted for six to nine months, several months longer than the collagen side. Restylane also causes fewer allergic reactions than collagen.
Sadick is currently experimenting with several new fillers (including one derived from the connective tissue of cadavers). His ultimate goal, he says, is to find a filler “that creates a totally natural look—and lasts for years.”