Wang says that in young, healthy skin, spindle-shaped fibroblasts stretch out and make loads of collagen, which form a strong web that supports the skin and keeps it firm. Alas, during natural and photo aging (caused by the sun's ultraviolet rays), collagen deteriorates and fibroblasts—which cling to it—crumple amid the loose and droopy strands.
According to Wang, researchers were searching for a way to stretch the fibroblasts again to see if that would prompt them to start pumping out healthy amounts of collagen. They thought Restylane might do the trick and when they examined the volunteers' skin samples, discovered that it had: The fibroblasts were taut and there was new collagen production.
So will the findings lead to a brave new world in which eternally unlined, youthful skin is but an injection away?—If only.
"This is exciting news, but it won't dramatically alter the landscape in the long run," says Peck. "Restylane will still be just a quick fix. It's something that someone can just come into the office, lie down, have and then go out to lunch and look better ... It's that quick and that easy. But it won't create enough collagen formation to completely erase nasal-labial folds (lines from the nose to the mouth)."
The bottom line, Peck says: "Eventually, everyone gets wrinkles. Restylane is a nice modality to have for facial rejuvenation—even people who have surgery have nasal-labial folds so even they may want Restylane injections. But Restylane is the icing on the cake—not the cake itself. It won't work forever. Eventually people [bent on the line-free look] have to have plastic surgery, but, even then, wrinkles are a fact of life. You can't change the aging process, but we can make you look better doing it."
Note: Wang says that the maker of Restylane donated the syringes used in the study but did not participate in, sponsor or know the results of the trial before they were published. He says that researchers cannot vouch for the effects of the other skin fillers on the market, because they use different recipes. Still, expect the news to heat up the already hot competition between rivals Restylane and Juv?derm, which Wang likened to the "war between Coke and Pepsi."