The aging process leads to hyperactivity of the muscles of the face. This movement leads to increased wrinkles and loss of the smooth, youthful appearance of the skin. In the upper face, neuromodulators such as Dysport and Botox, do a great job at relaxing this hyperactivity. What’s trending with aesthetic providers is dampening the muscle movement but not complete relaxation, leading to a more natural expression without “freezing” the patient.
Unfortunately, the neuromodulators can’t be administered throughout the entire face. In the lower face, low doses of neuromodulators are safe for the lips, chin, gummy smile, and DAO (AKA RBF) muscles for the most part. Inhibiting the lower face too much leads to changes with expression and smiling. What can be done to control the muscles in this area? Filler!
(Side note: Hyperactivity of the lower face has been described by Dr. Weiner in gum chewers in a previous blog. It leads to accelerated aging in the lower face and should be discouraged by aesthetic providers.)
An interesting study by Dr. Nowell Solish supports this concept. Using a rather large and sophisticated machine, Dr. Solish was able to determine muscle strain in the lower face during facial expressions. He compared patients in their 50’s to ones in their 30’s. As expected, the older patients had more muscle strain than the younger patients. He then injected the older population with Restylane Refyne and Defyne, 3-4cc in the perioral area. These fillers have XPresHAn technology and have flexibility – stretch capabilities. After the injections, the older patients were restudied for muscle strain. The findings: The muscle strain of the 2 groups (older vs younger) were basically the same. The filler was able to reduce the muscle strain about 15 – 20 years!
What’s the explanation? Dr. de Maio has coined the term myomodulation. His theory is that filler placed around hyperactive muscle leads to stretching and relaxation of the muscle. While this is plausible, there is probably a better way to describe this phenomenon.
Dr. Weiner’s theory: Think of an Aston Martin that has a top speed of 230 mph or more. However, in the US, to conform to the laws and regulations, governors are placed on the car to keep its top speed at 180 (This is purely hypothetical and used for illustrative purposes only). Dr. Weiner feels the fillers Refyne/Defyne limit the full range of movement of the hyperactive muscle, akin to a governor on the muscle. Why these fillers work so well at doing this is because they can stretch and recoil (akin to a tether), leading to some, but not excessive muscle movement. Other fillers would work but with a different and less natural mechanism. Think of the non-flexible fillers as acting as a wall, and not as a governor or tether.
With the new XPresHAn fillers, Refyne and Defyne, we now have a new treatment modality for the lower face which is highly effective. Myomodulation is real, exactly what is the underlying mechanism is still debatable.