What it is:  On June 21, 2011 the FDA approved a process by which a dermatologist or plastic surgeon numbs behind the ear, removes small pieces of skin, and sends these pieces of skin to a lab where the fibroblast cells in the skin samples are multiplied many times over and then frozen. These cells are then thawed when needed and injected into the skin under wrinkles or scars (boxcar or rolling) to help even out the appearance of the skin.

PROS: The body views these cultured cells as “own” and so the immune system does not respond. Working with your own cells eliminates allergic reactions, lumps, or abscesses which may come with other fillers. But probably the most compelling advantage is how long results last. Other fillers like bovine or synthetic collagen may last only a few months, and even more advanced fillers which combine polymer beads with collagen may only last a year or so. The LaViv treatment promises to last for years. As with many fillers, recovery is extremely minor and is evidenced by minor redness or bruising at the injection site. You can immediately return to work.

CONS: People don’t see results right away. The process requires 3 staggered injections and results aren’t seen until up to 3 months. It also costs a pretty penny–anywhere from $2000-$4000. However, other fillers which last less than a year can cost about $1000, so when you look at the long term, using your own cells may be more cost effective.

BOTTOM LINE: As always, the proof is in the pudding, and the pudding in this case is still cooking. This is such a new product and process that we literally haven’t had enough time to begin seeing “real” before and afters from everyday people posting online. There are 2 before and after pictures at this link which are provided by the company. Keep in mind as well that fillers are very often best used alongside other treatments, such as laser resurfacing.

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