Money

New weapons to fight the war on wrinkles

For those of us not ready to go under the knife, the fountain of youth has been just an injection away — if you have the money. For a couple of hundred dollars — several times a year, I should add — you can get Botox injections to relax lines in your forehead and crow’s feet around your eyes. And to get rid of those laugh lines around your mouth and those frown lines between your eyebrows, you can spend about $1,500 to get a Restylane injection. If you get two or three treatments a year, you’ll wind up spending a few thousand dollars a year. But what if you don’t have extra cast for these treatments? Well, the new generation of injectable wrinkle relaxers and fillers may be just the answer.

The $600-million wrinkle filler and relaxer industry is getting ready for a shake up. Two new competitors are about to enter the field. Botox will face Reloxin. The muscle relaxer, which is already available in Europe, is expected to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in this country this year. And Restylene will contend with Juvederm, which was approved by the FDA late last year. For those of us who’d like to erase a few lines, we can only hope the two new intruders to the U.S. market will bring prices down.

But will these new products work as well the established wrinkle warriors? David Bank, a dermatologist in Mt. Kisco, N.Y., who worked on the clinical trials for Juvederm, says there’s a place for the new product as well as Restylene in his practice. He says he might opt to use Juvederm for someone with thinner skin because the substance is more pliable. But for someone with tougher skin, he would probably use Restylene. “I think they’re both terrific fillers, but they are a little different,” says Bank. “Just as someone may prefer Pepsi over Coke, the next person may like Coke better than Pepsi.”

As for Botox’s rival Reloxin, I can only tell you what’s going on across the pond, where Reloxin is marketed as Dysport. “I tend to choose ladies who have not quite so deep lines for Dysport,” says Dr. Linzi James, an aesthetic practitioner in London. “And for people who have very deep lines, I use Botox.”

Since these new injectable wrinkle fillers basically do the same type of work, do they cost the same? So far, there’s not much difference in prices, but it’s worth watching. If competition in the injectable wrinkle filler and relaxer market heats up, the companies may lower their prices to grab market share. Then again, Coke and Pepsi haven’t lowered their prices. 

Janice Lieberman’s Bottom Line: If you do decide to have these injectables shot into your face, find the right physician. If a friend of yours has had fillers and you like how she looks, check out her doctor. But remember to ask the doctor how many procedures he or she has done. If the doctor’s prices seem too low, be suspect. The good news is that these are not permanent fillers or wrinkle reducers, so if the effect is not to your liking, it will disappear in a few months.

Janice Lieberman is the “Today” show’s consumer correspondent. She joined NBC News as a consumer reporter in 1999. She is author of “Tricks of the Trade: A Consumer Survival Guide.” She is a graduate of Rutgers University.

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