What is Hyaluronic Acid? And Why Do You Want It?
Hyaluronic acid (HA) is a natural substance found in your own body as well as in topical serums and creams. Believe it or not, it is also the primary active ingredient in most injectable fillers used to replace lost volume in the face, for contouring purposes, or to fill in wrinkles and smooth the skin.
Hyaluronic acid is not an acid in the typical sense. It’s not a harsh chemical and it doesn’t strip your skin. In fact, it loves water. HA is a polysaccharide (complex sugar) that can absorb up to 1000 times its own weight in water. Application of HA-containing products leads to increased moisture in the skin which is especially great in dry climates.
In your body, HA is found in several places. It’s located in between skin cells, where it holds water keeping the skin plump and moist. It’s also found in the eyes and in joint spaces, providing lubrication and shock absorption. As we age, the amount of HA in our bodies is diminished. This leads to volume loss, dullness, and a more weathered appearance of the skin.
There are no skin conditions or skin types that cannot benefit from use of HA. In fact, most OTC beauty products that claim to be anti-aging will have at least a small amount of HA in them. Medical grade products, however, will contain higher levels and a higher quality grade of HA. HA serums and creams can be used under sunscreen and other products to humidify the skin and keep it plump and firm, reducing fine lines and wrinkles. Consistent, prolonged use leads to long-term support for the youthful appearance of the skin.
Shah Aesthetic Surgery recently launched Alchemy, our medical grade skin care product line containing HA. Our moisturizer for daytime use contains a high level of hyaluronic acid to increase water content in the skin, firming and plumping up the delicate tissues of the face where our skin needs the most support. Colorado’s semi-arid climate is very drying to the skin so it’s especially important to give it some extra support to keep it moisturized.
You can also find HA in pill form. Long term benefits of taking HA supplements are unknown. It may do you some good and there are no safety concerns, but using HA topically is a more sure fire way to benefit the skin.
As mentioned, HA is also found in injectable fillers such as RestylaneTM, BeloteroTM, JuvedermTM, and VolumaTM. These fillers have very consistent results in replacing lost volume in the face, contouring, filling in wrinkles, and smoothing the skin. HA fillers last between 6 and 24 months depending on which filler is used. At our office in South Denver, Dr. Shah is an expert injector for these fillers and in using them is able to achieve significantly improved, natural looking results. Injectable fillers with HA are a very widely used non-surgical cosmetic treatment.
Another use of hyaluronic acid is in the treatment of osteoarthritis. Injections of HA into the joint can help improve shock absorption in joints affected by OA. Injections can also give temporary relief from joint pain, especially when combined with other treatments for OA.
With its many applications, use of hyaluronic acid is an important player in anti-aging both cosmetically and physically. If you are interested in use of HA in skin care or injectable fillers, contact us for more information.