Doctors call new filler a 'facelift in a bottle'

FRESNO, Calif.

"Just having volume in general makes the face look much better," said plastic surgeon Victor Lacombe, M.D.

Kelley Cassity, 52, wants to look as young as she feels. But with time, her face has lost some of its fullness, leading to harsher angles.

"It gives me a particularly gaunt and skeletonized-type look, said Cassity.

She's hoping for a natural look with fuller cheeks, with a unique filler just approved by the FDA called Voluma. It's designed to plump sunken and sagging areas in the face, without surgery.

Plastic surgeon Victor Lacombe took part in the clinical trials for Voluma. He treats Cassity with several doses, on both sides of her face.

The core ingredient is hyaluronic acid, which occurs naturally in the body and is widely used in fillers. But the doctor says the biggest difference with Voluma is how long it lasts.

"In the FDA trials, Voluma has been approved for 24 months. In some patients we've seen it perhaps longer duration than that, so that's a significant improvement upon anything that's available right now," said Dr. Lacombe.

Debbie Karnell also underwent injections during the clinical trial. At 67, she says it produced a smoothing effect on her skin, as seen in before and after photos supplied by the company.

"I thought it was interesting how quickly this product seemed to work," said Karnell.

The increased volume and longer-lasting effect is more costly than other fillers. A single vial of Voluma can cost around $1,000 and some patients need multiple doses. Still, Dr. Lacombe believes the longer-lasting effect helps balance out the initial cost.

"Just from the standpoint of convenience and not having to come back as often, it's going to be a good value," said Lacombe.

After about 20 minutes, Cassity's treatment is finished. Before and after photos taken a few weeks later show fuller cheeks and softer facial lines.

"Just so I look refreshed, so I don't look tired. Again, I just want to age gracefully," said Cassity.

Several Fresno cosmetic surgeons are now offering Voluma. Since the filler has the same active ingredient as other fillers already on the market, it's considered safe. Temporary side-effects can include tenderness, swelling after injection, slight pain and bruising.

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