Hydrafill is a sterile, biodegradable gel comprised of hyaluronic acid that is used to fill in fine lines and wrinkles, generally on the face. Hyaluronic acid is a polysaccharide (think sugar molecules bound together) that is found naturally in many tissues of the body, especially in the spaces between cells. Unlike naturally occurring hyraluronic acid, the substance contained in Hydrafill is highly cross-linked, which means that it is in long, branched chains. This branching means that while it is biodegradable, it can also resist digestion by enzymes in the body. When it comes to dermal fillers like Hydrafill, resisting breakdown by the body means that it will fill wrinkles for long periods of time.
Hydrafill was one of the first hyaluronic acid dermal fillers available that was produced from non-animal sources. Why is this important? Well, hyaluronic acid that is derived and purified from animal sources may contain elements that the body recognizes as foreign. As a result, the immune system may mount an allergic reaction to it and essentially reject the dermal filler. This would cause redness and swelling in the injected area—a swelling beyond what is desired. The hyaluronic acid in Hydrafill is derived from bacteria that have been genetically modified to produce loads and loads of essentially pure hyaluronic acid. This approach to producing Hydrafill reduces the likelihood of an allergic reaction for the patient.
There are two main forms
There are two main forms of Hydrafill available and each is used depending on the cosmetic goals of the patient and the doctor. HydraFill SoftLine is used to correct fine lines and wrinkles. Most often, HydraFill SoftLine is used to fill in lines around the eyes and the mouth, such as “crow’s feet” and “laugh lines.” The other product is HydraFill SoftLine Max. This product is more suited to the treatment of deeper lines and wrinkles. HydraFill SoftLine Max is injected into nasolabial folds (the deep furrows that occur between the nose and the corner of the mouth), the lips, the deep ridges in the forehead and at the edges of the cheeks. The hyaluronic acid in HydraFill SoftLine Max is more highly crosslinked than even HydraFill SoftLine which means it can deliver increased volume when injected into the skin of the face.
Hydrafill has been used to cosmetically improve other features as well. For example, some doctors have had success treating the tear troughs under the eyes. Also, when HydraFill is used at the upper brow line it can create a result similar to a modest eyebrow lift. In patients that have had atrophy of the muscles of the hands or where fat deposits have shrunk with age, Hydrafill has been used in some cases to restore volume to the hand. Since the skin of the hand shrinks with time (actually the fat layer below the skin thins mostly), the dark blue veins of the hand are more easily seen. This is not ideal cosmetically, so Hydrafill has been used to cover up those more noticeable veins.
The non-animal hyaluronic acid was marketed under the brand names Hydrafill and JUVEDERM in Europe. Approval in the US came a few years later though the dominant marketing name for the product in the United States was Juvederm. In Europe, the brand name Hydrafill is still used to some degree.