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.

A huge thanks to everyone on the scars team:

Aren, Miriam, Joel, Kent –> you guys rock.

Drumroll: Here’s the new Scars Page. It should have improved information and better usability. Please check it out and let me know what you think of it. If you find mistakes, I’d love to know what you found as well.

I’ve been pouring over scar research for days now. It is pretty endless, but I’m making progress. I’ve read through the latest summaries of research as well as a bunch of your comments on the scar treatment ratings pages. I have a couple of initial strong feelings:

1. Prevention is key! Scar treatment is hardcore–bleeding, oozing, bruizing, pain, long recovery time, permanent change in pigmentation at times, and major expense. It is far easier to prevent acne than it is to attend to scars. I happen to not be prone to scarring, but if I were, I would be diligent on the regimen and I would also be serious about creating anti-inflammatory action in my body. I’d be all about fish oil, zinc, eating well, exercising, and if I was healing from a pretty hardcore zit, I’d take an advil or two during recovery to prevent over-inflammation in my body and the scar response (this is only theorized and not proven to work, but I’d try it). I’d also refuse to pick at my skin, knowing that picking can cause as much scarring as the acne itself.

2. Scar revision is more of an art than a science. I’ve researched 19 different procedures so far. These 19 different procedures often need to be combined for best results. If I were looking for a doctor to take care of my scarring, I would look specifically for a plastic surgeon who specializes in acne scarring. Furthermore, I would not just take their word for it. Lots of people seem to “specialize” in whatever you’re paying $4000 for. Rather, I’d feel more comfortable if they themselves had scar revision treatment performed and if this is what got them into plastic surgery to begin with. I’d also make sure they had lots of before and after pictures for me to look at of their own previous clients. To give you an idea of what I mean regarding combination of treatments, if you have some ice pick scars, some narrow and some wide boxcar scars, and several rolling scars here and there, your treatment might consist of one or two punch excisions, one or two punch elevations, a bunch of subcisions, and perhaps some 75% TCA applied directly to a few scars. Then, 6 weeks would pass and you might get CO2 laser revision, followed by Er:YAG, or alternately, 5 medium depth TCA peels, with a little needling should it be required. I think you catch my drift.

I’m angered and motivated from some of the reviews you guys have written about doctors with a laser just sitting you down in the chair with no prep work and just lasering away, taking your $3500 and being done with it, leaving you with less than desirable results. Let’s help educate one another so those of us who need scar revision can be better advocates for themselves and others. I’ll post what I’ve got on the updated scars pages soon.

Hey you guys. I didn’t have time for a video today. I’ve been hard at work researching and writing the ethnic acne pages though, and it’s very interesting stuff. I can’t wait to get those up on the site. There are interesting differences in black, asian, latino, and white skin, and any combination thereof, albeit relatively minor differences.

Thanks for your comments from yesterday’s video btw. You guys really inspire me! :-) See you tomorrow!

I’m doin’ a bunch of research on acne and ethnic skin–which basically includes everyone in the world. But still, there are differences in skin depending on where your ancestors are from. Most notably are the red spots or dark spots that are left behind after active acne lesions heal. These red spots or dark spots are called post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.