Boomers flock to doctor for latest wrinkle eraser

Posted: Friday, February 27, 2004

NEW YORK (AP) The crow's feet that radiate from the corners of Dr. Maureen Coleman's eyes don't bother her. And she's nonchalant about the laugh lines that trail from her nose to the corners of her mouth.

But the little vertical crevices that projected out from her lips, causing her lipstick to smear, drove the 57-year old crazy.

''The lines made me feel old,'' said Coleman, an anesthesiologist who lives in Deerfield, Ill.

After learning that the wrinkle filler Restylane had won approval from the federal government, Coleman had the product injected into her lips earlier this month. The lines vanished.

''They are gone. I just can't believe it,'' said Coleman.

In just three months on the market, Restylane has become the treatment of choice for baby boomers, who range in age from 40 to 58, looking to erase lines on the lower third of the face. Doctors said Restylane is effective on lip lines, laugh lines and marionette lines, which extend from the corners of the mouth to the chin. Botox, the other beloved wrinkle eraser, is not approved for use in such lines and doctors agree Restylane is the better choice for such treatments.

Waiting lists for Restylane injections grew at doctors' offices after patients heard about the product, which has been used in Europe for years. It was recently featured on an ''Oprah'' show.

That's because Restylane lasts longer than collagen, the substance already used to fill wrinkles around the mouth and lips. Collagen can last an average of two to three months, doctors said, but Restylane injections last about six months, and sometimes longer. Restylane treatments are more expensive, with doctors charging anywhere from $100 to $400 more per syringe.

''Restylane just sells itself,'' said Dr. Loren Schechter, a plastic surgeon in Chicago. ''I've stopped using collagen.''

Doctors said patients who use Restylane around their mouths and Botox on their crow's feet and lined foreheads can put off plastic surgery for years.

''Using the two products you can rejuvenate a face,'' said Dr. Z. Paul Lorenc, a Manhattan-based plastic surgeon. He has been using the combination on patients for roughly two years at a clinic in Jamaica where he sometimes practices.

''It allows people to look rested without surgical options.''

Doctors say they also prefer Restylane because it is a natural substance that doesn't pose the same threat of allergies as collagen, which is sometimes derived from cattle. Restylane is a gel made from a hyaluronic acid made from fermenting sugar.

Restylane also has a safety track record, having been on the market in Europe since 1996, doctors say.

Last year, Restylane's manufacturer, Q-Med of Uppsala, Sweden, sold Canadian and U.S. rights to product to Medicis Pharmaceutical Corp. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Restylane last December, and Medicis expects Restylane sales to reach $20 million by June.

However, Restylane may be getting some competition. Inamed Corp., which makes collagen, has a hyaluronic acid product under review at the FDA. But Inamed's product is made from rooster combs, so some doctors believe it might pose the risk of allergic reaction and might require a skin test just like bovine-derived collagen.

Inamed also recently acquired rights to another European hyaluronic acid filler and is working on a competitor to Botox.

For now, patients are impressed with the results from Restylane.

A day after Mary Maginot had Restylane injected in her laugh lines, she was largely pleased with outcome although she still had swelling on one side of her face.

''I just wanted to feel better when I looked in the mirror,'' said the 43-year old nurse from Glenview, Ill. ''I just want to look my best. It's not that I'm trying not to get old.''

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