Medical Aesthetics is a new, fast-growing field of medicine, but dermal fillers have a long history. Learn about the pioneers, triumphs, and downfalls that have led to our current day dermal fillers.
The first needle was invented in 1844. The first syringe was invented in 1853. It did not take long after for people to want to inject something that could augment their face. Now that needles and syringes exist, all that is needed is a filler material to inject!
Robert Gersuny, an Austrian surgeon, was credited for discovering paraffin and Vaseline together make a dermal filler. One of Gersuny’s patient lost a testicle due to a complication of tuberculosis, and that gave him an idea. Paraffin can be melted enough to easily inject through a syringe, and then it will harden inside the body. Gersuny’s first patient to use dermal filler used it to augment his second testicle. The great success of his first patient encouraged Gersuny to use paraffin and Vaseline filler for all soft tissue augmentations.
However, the adverse reactions and complications of paraffin filler were devastating. The paraffin migrating, embolizing (entering the bloodstream), and granulomas (mass of tissue under skin) were very common. Regardless, the paraffin filler was used for a few decades before the next dermal filler media would be invented.
Injectable silicone was first used in Japan for breast augmentations. The oily substance had similar physical properties to paraffin. Silicone used for dermal filler gained huge popularity around the world in the 1960s. In the United States, there was a big use of silicone filler on showgirls in Las Vegas. Unfortunately, side effects were just as devastating as they were for paraffin fillers. The silicone would migrate, fistulize, granulomas, and even death in several cases. After Vegas showgirls felt the negative side effects of silicone filler, Nevada became the first state to ban injectable silicone. The occurrence of granulomas after gettingfiller was so common, it was termed “siliconoma” in 1965. The search for a safe dermal filler was in full swing. Bovine Collagen is collagen derived from cows, and the next media used for dermal filler. Clinical trials began in 1977 and continued for six years and testing and developing was performed. History was made in 1981 when bovine collagen became the first FDA approved dermal filler, under the brand name Zyderm. Bovine collagen had huge success and significantly reduced side effects and their level of severity. With a safe dermal filler now on the market, fillers gain popularity, and more people want filler in their face! Although Zyderm is not FDA-approved to be a lip filler, soon enough it was widely used for lip enhancement. Collagen injectionsfound widespread love thanks to actress Barbara Hershey. Hershey got collagen injected into her lips to look younger while starring in Beaches.
Her desired “pouty” lips received just as much publicity as the movie! Although Zyderm was safe, it was not the most convenient treatment. It was not only important the cows were isolated to prevent spreading viral infections, but imperative patient’s skin was tested for a collagen allergy as well. The search is now for a filler that can last longer than collagen and would not require a skin test.
The answer to a better filler than bovine collagen was found in 1996 – Hyaluronic Acid (HA). HA is a natural substance already found in the body. HA filler also lasts longer than collagen filler. Launched in Europe in 1996, HA filler is a huge success. In 2003, Restalyne becomes the first hyaluronic acid filler to be approved by the FDA, and now on the American market. HA fillers have stayed the preferred choice of filler ever since. New advancements are made every day to improve HA filler. They have since added lidocaine to HA filler, improve integrity of the HA molecules, and mimic the HA already found in body, resulting in the safest, yet best, results.
We thank every medical professional and patient who has helped paved the way to a safe dermal filler experience. We also learn from their mistakes! As patient safety is the number one priority, it is super important all dermal filler is FDA-approved, and you are being injected by an experienced medical professional. Stay safe and enjoy your filler.