Hyaluronic acid is polysaccharide (sugar-based) component of connective tissue, including the skin. Its water-binding and elastic properties have skin-plumping effects. Hyaluronic acid also lubricates tissues and joints.
Hyaluronic acid is used in osteoarthritis treatment, ophthalmic (eye) surgery, and tissue engineering. It may be injected into a joint or into the skin, taken by mouth, or applied topically. Hyaluronic acid fillers are popularly used to minimize the appearance of facial wrinkles and to plump skin in the cheeks and chin.
These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
Results of human study showed that a hyaluronic acid product, Juvéderm Ultra Plus®, reduced the appearance of nasolabial folds (creases between the nose and lips) more so than a bovine collagen-based filler. Additional research is needed to confirm these early findings.
Early human study showed that a hyaluronic acid preparation, applied to the eye, reduced symptoms of dry eye syndrome and was well tolerated. Additional studies are needed.
Intra-articular (intrajoint) hyaluronic acid injections have been reported to be highly effective in the treatment of osteoarthritis in humans. A small study also found that oral hyaluronic acid therapy helped reduce pain and increase physical functioning in adults with knee osteoarthritis. Additional research is needed in this area.
* Key to grades
A: Strong scientific evidence for this use B: Good scientific evidence for this use C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use D: Fair scientific evidence for this use (it may not work) F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likley does not work)
Tradition / Theory
The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.
Avoid in individuals with a known allergy or sensitivity to hyaluronic acid. In addition, commercial hyaluronic acid preparations may contain proteins from birds. Individuals with an allergy to avian (bird) proteins (e.g., eggs or feathers) should avoid these products.
Side Effects and Warnings
Hyaluronic acid may increase the risk of bleeding. Caution is advised in patients with bleeding disorders or those taking drugs that may increase the risk of bleeding. Dosing adjustments may be necessary.
Use caution if using certain disinfectants, because hyaluronic acid may interact with the quaternary ammonium salts present in some disinfectants.
Use injectable preparations cautiously in patients prone to easy bruising or bleeding. As with any injection, hyaluronic acid injection may cause skin redness, bruising, infection, or hematoma formation (a local mass of clotted blood). Injection of hyaluronic acid into a joint may cause arthritis or joint symptoms, such as joint pain, stiffness, swelling, and warmth.
Hyaluronic acid may cause rash when taken by mouth.
Hyaluronic acid may cause increased pressure in the eye after injection into the eye during eye surgery.
Avoid use in breast augmentation, or for implantation into bone, tendon, ligament, or muscle.
Avoid injecting into blood vessels.
Avoid use in patients with a history of sensitivity to chicken products or known allergy or sensitivity to hyaluronic acid.
Avoid if pregnant or breastfeeding.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
There is no proven safe or effective dose of hyaluronic acid in pregnant or breastfeeding women.
Hyaluronic acid may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with drugs that increase the risk of bleeding. Some examples include aspirin, anticoagulants (blood thinners) such as warfarin (Coumadin®) or heparin, antiplatelet drugs such as clopidogrel (Plavix®), and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen (Motrin®, Advil®) or naproxen (Naprosyn®, Aleve®). Drugs that increase the risk of bleeding should be discontinued at least one week before a hyaluronic acid injection.
Hyaluronic acid may interact with disinfectants containing quaternary ammonium salts. Use these disinfectants with caution when using hyaluronic acid.
Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements
Hyaluronic acid may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with herbs and supplements that may increase the risk of bleeding. Multiple cases of bleeding have been reported with the use of Ginkgo biloba, and fewer cases with garlic and saw palmetto. Numerous other agents may increase the risk of bleeding, including herbs such as St. John's wort or Pycnogenol®. These agents, as well as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents, should be discontinued at least one week before a hyaluronic acid injection.
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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.