Other than Botox, injectable fillers are the most common minimally-invasive procedure performed for the treatment of facial aging concerns. But almost all commercially-available injectable fillers are synthetically-derived and their effects disappear as the material absorbs. But a few contemporary fillers take a different approach, using natural materials whose intent is to stimulate local cellular and tissue growth which then creates the volumetric effect.
One such recent natural product is LaViv, also known as azficel-T, manufactured by the Fibrocell Science company. This is a natural fibroblast cellular product derived from a patient’s own skin cells. It is an FDA-approved treatment to be used for the reduction of nasolabial folds (smile lines) in adults. The duration of LaViv’s effects have not been evaluated beyond six months.
LaViv is based on the concept of patient’s producing their own collagen filler from fibroblasts grown from their own cells. A skin biopsy is first obtained from the backside of the ear. It is then sent to Fibrocell where fibroblasts are grown from the tissue sample. To obtain adequate fibroblast cells, it takes three months from the time of the skin biopsy. The final solution is composed of 98% fibroblasts (tens of millions of cells) in a solution of water, sugar, vitamins, amino acids and antibiotics. The injections are performed in the office just like any other synthetic injectable filler. Three injection sessions are needed spaced 3 to 6 weeks apart to get the maximal effect.
Due to the use of bovine collagen and antibiotics in the final solution, skin reactions are possible even though it is the patient’s own cells. But clinical trials showed only a 1% incidence and the reactions were temporary and self-resolving.
For those patients interested in the most natural injectable facial filler, the use of one’s own fibroblasts grown in cell culture is now both possible and FDA-approved. It requires a committed patient who is willing to wait six months to get the final effect. It is also unknown as to the duration of LaViv’s effects which is undoubtably under study by the Fibrocell company.
Dr. Barry Eppley