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HIV Med. 2004 Mar;5(2):82-7.

A randomized open-label study of immediate versus delayed polylactic acid injections for the cosmetic management of facial lipoatrophy in persons with HIV infection.

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Department of HIV Medicine, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, London, UK.



Polylactic acid (PLA, New-Fill; Medifill, London, UK and Dermic Labs, a division of Eventis, Strasbourg, France) injections into the deep dermis increase fibroblast numbers and collagen production. The substance is widely used in medical applications including cosmetic procedures.


HIV-positive individuals with facial lipoatrophy (based on physician assessment) were randomized to immediate (weeks 0, 2 and 4) or delayed (weeks 12, 14 and 16) PLA given as three bilateral injections 2 weeks apart into the deep dermis overlying the buccal fat pad. Assessments included facial ultrasound, visual analogue scales, the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) and assessment using photographs at weeks 0, 12 and 24.


All 30 patients completed 24 weeks of treatment. The median age of the patients was 41 years, with a mean of 80 months of nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NRTI) therapy and a mean of 44 months of prior protease inhibitor (PI) therapy. The median CD4 count was 428-460 cells/microL, with 47% of patients in the immediate-treatment group and 93% of patients in the delayed-treatment groups with <50 HIV-1 RNA copies/mL at baseline. No differences in immunological, virological, biochemical, haematological or metabolic parameters emerged during the study. Injections were well tolerated with only two adverse events (cellulitis and bruising) recorded, one of which delayed treatment by 1 week. There were no discontinuations. Patient visual analogue assessments, photographic assessments, and anxiety and depression scores improved with treatment. At week 12, immediate-treatment patients had significantly better visual analogue scores (7 vs. 1, P<0.001) and lower anxiety scores (6 vs. 9, P=0.056) than delayed-treatment patients. Benefits on visual analogue and HADS scores persisted until week 24.


PLA injections led to improvements in patient self-perception, anxiety and depression scores in individuals with facial lipoatrophy. Adverse events were uncommon. The benefits of PLA persisted for at least 18 weeks beyond the last injection.

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