According to an article in the February issue of Archives of Dermatology, injections with dermal fillers containing hyaluronic acid stimulate collagen production and may partially restore the structure of sun-damaged skin.

In the study, Frank Wang, MD, and colleagues at the University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, injected nonanimal stabilized hyaluronic acid (NASHA) into the forearms of 11 healthy volunteers (average age 74 years). All participants were fair-skinned; eight had moderate sun damage—visible as brown spots, drooping skin, wrinkles, and uneven pigmentation—whereas three had mild to moderate damage.

Each participant received three injections of 0.7 mL of stabilized hyaluronic acid 2 to 5 cm apart in one forearm, and three injections of saline solution at the same volume and spacing in the other arm. Skin biopsy samples approximately 4 mm in diameter were taken from the site of the injection 4 and 13 weeks later.

It is assumed that fillers achieve their effects by filling space in the skin.  Through examining the skin samples under an electron microscope, the researchers found that this appeared to be the case with stabilized hyaluronic acid.

To further investigate potential mechanisms for the filler’s long-lasting aesthetic benefits, the researchers assessed the biological response of skin to NASHA and found that NASHA injections induce type 1 collagen production in photodamaged forearm skin. Because there is currently no evidence that skin on different parts of the body behaves differently, it is likely that hyaluronic acid has the same effect on facial skin.

These findings suggest that, in addition to its aesthetic benefits, hyaluronic acid may be beneficial for treating skin-wasting diseases that involve collagen deficiencies, such as those associated with HIV or steroid use.

[www.newswise.com, February 15, 2007]