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About Topical Hyaluronic Acid

By Allan Robinson ; Updated July 18, 2017

Hyaluronic acid is a natural component of connective tissue such as cartilage and skin. It makes these tissues more resilient and helps repair skin damage. Topical applications of hyaluronic acid may reduce fine wrinkles and otherwise improve the appearance of the skin.


Restylane is the brand name of a gel that contains hyaluronic acid. The hyaluronic acid in Restylane is produced by bacteria and is known as non-animal stabilized hyaluronic acid (NASHA). It reduces wrinkles when it’s applied to the skin by making the skin fuller. Hyaluronic acid accomplishes this by binding with the water in the skin.


Hyaluronic acid was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2005 for the treatment of moderate folds and wrinkles in the face. It may also be used to make the lips appear fuller. These effects may last for a maximum of six months. Some patients may require more than one treatment to achieve optimum results.


A preparation of hyaluronic acid can be applied to the surface of the skin by the user according to the instructions. This preparation is limited to a 2.5 percent solution of hyaluronic acid. It may also be injected subcutaneously (under the skin) by a trained physician. The specific dosage varies according to the site being treated but shouldn’t exceed 1.5mm per site.

Side Effects

Hyaluronic acid’s most common side effects are related to the injection site. These effects include bruising, itching, pain, swelling and tenderness. Less common side effects of hyaluronic acid have also been reported: acne, allergic reactions, infection and necrosis (tissue death). Hyaluronic acid shouldn’t be used on patients with severe allergies.


Several medications such as aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can increase bleeding and bruising after administering a preparation of hyaluronic acid. Additional supplements such as St. John's Wort and vitamin E can also cause these effects.

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