Will 2019 Be the Year of the Eco-Friendly Filler?

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Just in time to finish out the year comes some exciting aesthetic-focused news from yesterday’s WWD: The first silk-based biodegradable filler may be on the way.

As Massachusetts-based Silk Medical Aesthetics Inc., a division of Silk Inc., told WWD, they've developed “a biocompatible liquid silk technology that is the first all-natural biomaterial platform for injection into the skin.” Made from pure silk from the thread of silkworm cocoons suspended in liquid (as opposed to hyaluronic acid), the formula is intended to be used as an “injectable dermal filler for purposes such as filling in wrinkles in the face and hands and treating acne scars. The technology can be tailored to last from three to 24 months.”

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Clinical trials are currently slated for next year, while the filler is expected to come to market by 2022.

Silk Inc. cofounder Greg Altman also told WWD that the “all-natural system” extends to the manufacturing process, as the company’s Boston facilities use “solar power and mulberry leaves, and do not contain chemical preservatives. The process from end-to-end makes the technology entirely sustainable.”

“Innovation is always welcome and will push the evolution of aesthetics,” says New York dermatologist Dhaval G. Bhanusali, MD. “More options will always be better but diligent testing will be needed to see how the product holds up and how safe it is.” Brookline, MA dermatologist Papri Sarkar, MD agrees and says that she loves the theory behind the new filler, but she thinks it’s vital to see how long-term results and reactions will play out in the studies.

“Although silk is made naturally, people can still have reactions to naturally made products. We’ve definitely seen reaction to silk sutures, aka stitches, in the past, but I’m sure these fillers have a different structure than stitches. In contrast, hyaluronic acid—the most common filler ingredient that’s used in the U.S. right now—is something that is already present in our skin, which is why people think there are such low reactions to it. But it’s a really exciting time to be a practicing dermatologist right now because we have so many options available and so many new ones coming down the road.”

As Altman told us, he sees the Activated Silk dermal filler platform as having some very specific advantages—one of them being that it’s designed to integrate into the skin’s collagen network while being reversible.

“Activated Silk, pure silk protein in liquid form, provides a multifaceted system with which we can create advanced product benefits,” he says. “Our goal is to support the more precise control of swelling following injection, so that doctors can more accurately target problem areas during a procedure.”

“In addition, we intend to leverage Activated Silk’s biocompatibility to decrease redness and inflammation following injection. The silk biomaterial system provides us the tools to tailor filler longevity independent of gel elastic properties, creating a more natural look, feel and outcome.”

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