Before I jump into my experience with Profhilo, a confession: I am skin-care-obsessed and have the receipts to prove it. From maracuja oil and glycolic peels to at-home microneedling devices and rose quartz rollers, I have seen, bought, and tried it all — with varying degrees of success. The A313 retinol cream that I bulk-buy in France? An absolute game-changer. The tepezcohuite dirt I had shipped from Mexico? A total waste of money. But if there is one thing my decades-long indulgence in skin care’s biggest trends has taught me, it's that there's only so much topical creams can do, especially below the jawline.
In the past year, it's as though my neck, which has been taut for decades, suddenly realized we were wearing '90s trends in the actual ‘90s, exhaled deeply, slouched a little, and hasn't stood at attention since. My skin looks thinner, the area under my chin is noticeably softer, and my platysmal bands have an extraordinarily high tolerance for Botox (making it an expensive and ultimately disappointing option). So, you can imagine my excitement when I heard about Profhilo.
Dubbed "injectable skin care," this hyaluronic booster made its European debut in 2015 and quickly established itself as an A-Lister beauty treatment. It’s not available in the US (more on that later), but has Americans hopping across the pond for the filter-like glow and plumping effect it creates. Less discussed are the product's regenerative benefits, which is what I was most interested in. Could this be the treatment to tighten my lower face and save my neck? I had to find out.
Meet the experts:
Yannis Alexandrides, MD, FACS, is an American and European board-certified plastic surgeon based in London and the founder of 111SKIN.
Ashwin Soni, US and UK-trained plastic & reconstructive surgeon, and founder of The Soni Clinic based in London and Ascot.
Melissa Doft, MD, is a double board-certified plastic surgeon and founder of Doft Plastic Surgery in New York City.
In this story:
What is Profhilo and what are its benefits?
Profhilo is the headliner in a group of injectables known as skin boosters. “A skin booster is injectable hyaluronic acid that is injected to improve skin texture, hydration, and tone,” explains Melissa Doft, MD, a double board-certified plastic surgeon and founder of Doft Plastic Surgery in New York City.
Profhilo is made up of a high concentration of non-cross-linked (non-volumizing) hyaluronic acid. In layman’s terms, this means that, unlike volumizing hyaluronic acid which make up traditional fillers that are solid and stay static on the face and body, the hyaluronic acid in Profhilo is in liquid form and dispurses through the face, giving skin a lifted, dewy, and more radiant appearance.
As we age, our bodies’ natural hyaluronic acid resources start to decrease. This often results in several visible skin changes such as crepiness, laxity, fine lines, and a loss of volume in the face and body. By saturating the cells with hyaluronic acid, Profhilo gives the skin an intense boost of hydration, essentially moisturizing it from the inside out. “High-quality moisturizers and serums are very important and should be used daily. However, because of the barrier of the skin, there are limitations to how deep they can go,” says Yannis Alexandrides, MD, FACS, American and European board-certified plastic surgeon and founder of 111 Harley St. Clinic in London. Dr. Alexandrides explains that since dehydrated cells do not regenerate properly, placing hyaluronic acid under the skin is a game-changer. "By drenching the cells and helping to restructure and regenerate the skin, Profhilo can restore luminosity and firmness to skin while helping to rebuild collagen. It really is an innovator in the world of skin care."
Is Profilho FDA-approved?
In a word, no. Profhilo and other popular skin boosters such as Restylane Vital, Teoxane Teosyl, and Redensidy 1 are not currently available in the US. However SkinVive, a skin booster by Juvéderm, has recently received FDA approval for the cheek area in individuals 21 and older and US doctors are lining up to see how it compares to topical boosters like lasers, serums, and peels. "This is the next level of skin-boosting, using something that is injected. It will be interesting to see how different SkinVive is from what we currently are using as hyaluronic acid fillers," Dr. Doft. Dr. Alexandrides says that it is important to note that while both products are made up of pure hyaluronic acid, they are not the same. “SkinVive has been mixed with Streptococcus bacteria and a small amount of the numbing cream, lidocaine. This means that patients who are allergic to either of these substances should not use it,” he says.
How does Profhilo work?
Profhilo is injected approximately two to three millimeters under the skin's surface. "Once the hyaluronic acid is injected, it expands throughout the skin and hydrates the cells which stimulate the patient's collagen and elastin," Dr. Alexandrides says. This will help lift the face, soften wrinkles, and improve elasticity over time. "You may start to see an increase in radiance and [an improvement in] texture at about three weeks after the initial treatment, but you won't see the benefits until two or three weeks after your second treatment.”
Yes, you’ll need at least two sessions to see results. Getting that second dose is key to keeping your skin consistently hydrated for several weeks. "The more hydrated the skin, the higher chance of collagen being produced," Dr. Alexandrides adds. It’s important to reiterate that the HA makeup in Profhilo is a treatment that focuses on improving skin health and does not add volume.
How long does Profhilo last?
After a patient has had their first two treatments a month apart, most doctors recommend a top-up every six months. Dr. Alexandrides says the key to getting the most out of Profhilo is consistency, and when done correctly, it can do wonders for prevention. "Skin boosters like Profhilo can have a significant impact on how we age in the long run, thanks to the way they stimulate our own natural collagen and elastin synthesis," he says, “As we get older our lines become deeper and we lose elasticity which is compounded by various environmental elements and lifestyle factors such as drinking, sun exposure, smoking. Profhilo increases the skin's firmness, making it less prone to fine lines and wrinkles and the benefits can be longer-lasting than traditional dermal fillers.” So, do you have to keep doing it forever to see long-term benefits? Yes. “You will be stimulating collagen and elastin every round which will improve the skin and signs of aging but since we continue to age, it’s something I suggest clients integrate into their lifelong skin-care routine,” Dr. Alexandrides explains.
Who is the ideal candidate for Profhilo?
Profhilo has a large candidate base, with doctors noting benefits to patients ranging in age from 20 to 80 years old. Ashwin Soni, a US and UK-trained plastic and reconstructive surgeon and founder of The Soni Clinic located in London and Ascot, says he administers Profhilo in his clinic regularly to patients of essentially all ages. "The beauty of this treatment is that most people are good candidates whether they are male or female, younger or older," he says while pointing out that women in their late 50s and older will reap the greatest benefits. "Post-menopausal women who have lost a lot of collagen during menopause tend to see the greatest results as skin boosters can help the quality of the skin, improve the elasticity, and make them feel amazing," he says. Dr. Alexandrides echoes this point, adding that perimenopausal women and patients who live in climates with extremely hot or cold weather will also benefit from this treatment.
My experience with Profhilo
My first treatment
Dr. Alexandrides invited me to try Profhilo at 111 Harley St. — his London clinic — and kindly provided the treatment free of charge for this review. Upon my arrival, he greeted me with a warm welcome and explained the procedure would take no more than 15 minutes. He warned that I may have a few lumps immediately after but assured me they would disappear before lunch. To prepare me for the procedure, he cleaned my face with Clenisept, an antimicrobial solution.
I received five injections on each side of my face (seven of which kind of hurt, two of which definitely hurt, and one — near my chin — that I still want revenge for). This took under five minutes and was followed by 10 injections in my neck that were less dramatic and felt more like someone was pinching my skin with their nails in quick succession. Each injection drew a little blood at the injection site (shown above), which is totally normal. The whole treatment was over in eight minutes and while there was redness immediately following the treatment, I couldn't tell I had anything done by the time I met my friend for lunch half an hour later.
I didn't notice much of an effect the first two weeks, but around day 17, my face looked more radiant with a natural-looking fullness that ever-so-slightly lifted my face. By week three, my platysmal bands looked less pronounced.
My second treatment (4 weeks later)
I am sorry to report that my second treatment was a lot more painful than my first, but I think my lack of sleep the night before may have caused a heightened sensitivity to pain. (I have noticed the same effect with Botox, however, Profhilo, in general, hurts more overall.) After this session, I also had a few bumps on my face and neck well into the night and a large bruise on my neck that was noticeable for two and a half weeks. I share this because, while uncommon, it can happen, and if you have a big event, you will want to time your treatment properly.
I am now 10 weeks after my second treatment and I am thrilled with the results, which seem to get better over time. My skin looks like I drink 10 glasses of water every day — naturally hydrated and radiant. (Interestingly, that radiance looked more noticeable when I wore makeup as it made my foundation and blush look illuminated.) The bands in my neck are less prominent, which has made me more confident when I look in the mirror at them.
Even if the effects end up being temporary, I am definitely doing this again in six months. I was, admittedly, skeptical about the science behind skin boosters but am now a believer.
How does Profhilo compare to Botox and traditional fillers?
It doesn't. Botox's role in cosmetic dermatology is to soften and prevent wrinkles by weakening the muscles around a certain area, such as the eyes or forehead. Fillers are mostly used to replace lost volume and to lift or contour the face. Profhilo plays a different role, one that's totally skin-based. While rebuilding your collagen and elastin will plump and tighten skin over time, Profhilo isn't designed to add volume to the face or change its structure the way traditional fillers do. “You will see improvement in superficial lines, thanks to the intense hydration and long-term improvement in deeper wrinkles thanks to fresh collagen and elastin, but it’s nothing like Botox or fillers like Restylane or Voluma,” Dr. Alexandrides explains.
That said, it's not uncommon for all three to be used in a 360° rejuvenation plan, as these products can work well together when performed by an experienced practitioner. "I often use a little bit of filler to reharmonize the face, Botox to soften fine lines, and a skin booster to make skin look radiant," says Soni. While he emphasizes the importance of doing both rounds of Profhilo for long-term benefits, he says some of his US-based clients have been known to fly over to “get the glow” for big events such as fashion week, award shows, and weddings.
How much does Profhilo cost?
Profhilo runs between $250-$375 per dosage, depending on the clinic, which means that you will spend $500-$750 for a full treatment for each area of the body (the face and neck are considered two areas).
What are the risks?
One of the main reasons for Profhilo's popularity is that it poses minimal risks to most patients and can be done with little downtime. "I have never had a client who has not been a candidate, but if you have a bleeding disorder, are immunocompromised or are someone with unrealistic expectations, you may have contraindications and should discuss your circumstances with your provider before treatment. Of course, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you cannot have any injectable treatment," says Soni. As with all injectables, bruising is possible, but it’s less likely if you follow a few simple steps. “I encourage my patients not to drink for 24 hours before or after injection and to limit Omega-3 vitamins and anti-inflammatory drugs if they can for at least three days before and after treatment. If a patient has an increased risk of bruising, Arnica tablets or cream used three days before and after treatment can be helpful,” he says.
So, should you grab your passport?
To reiterate, Profhilo isn't available in the US so you'll have to book a flight for your appointment. For me, Profhilo is worth the price without travel costs. If I had a red carpet event, a wedding, or another important life event to attend, I would consider flying to get glowing but otherwise feel like it is a great option for those on an extended holiday in London, who can have two treatments four weeks apart.
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Originally Appeared on Allure