Carl Craddock, 63, of Mint Hill is one of only a few people nationwide to benefit from a new Food and Drug Administration approved aesthetic cell therapy called LAVIV that smoothed his smile lines.
The owner of Metroview Pharmacy in Charlotte, Craddock was recruited for a clinical trial four years ago because of his business neighbors: Dermatology, Laser & Vein Specialists of the Carolinas, near Presbyterian Hospital.
"At the time, I was 59 years old and I had noticed while I was shaving that I could see my father's face looking back at me," said Craddock. "I wished that I hadn't seen those smile lines because I looked craggy. So when they offered me the treatment, I thought, what did I have to lose?"
The LAVIV treatment is unique because the solution injected into the smile lines (called nasolabial folds) is made from a person's own cultured skin cells, called fibroblasts.
During the clinical trial, it was explained to Craddock that collagen would be harvested from skin samples taken from behind his ear, sent to a laboratory "to multiply" for about 90 days and then sent back to the dermatology office for injection into the smile lines.
Once the solution is ready, it must be inserted within 24 hours. The entire process includes a series of three recommended treatments, spaced three to six weeks apart.
"Your face is a bit puffed or fluffed after the injections, but there is no residual pain," Craddock said. The results "are a subtle thing that no one will instantly notice, but I see it. I was really pleased with the results because I see thousands of patients each year and it makes me feel good to look the best that I can."
Dr. Gilly S. Munavalli of Dermatology, Laser & Vein Specialists of the Carolinas recruited Craddock for the clinical trial.
"LAVIV treatments use a patient's own collagen-making cells to improve the appearance of smile line wrinkles, resulting in a natural-looking effect," he said. It "is likely to appeal to patients like Carl who want to take a very new approach to treating wrinkles."
In addition to running a pharmacy, Craddock is an active hunter and fisherman, often accompanied by his wife, Jan, and his dog.
He said he things his smoothed-out smile lines have improved his self image and make him feel younger.
"My family supported me, and I could not be more pleased because I look as good as I did four years ago," when the clinical trial was completed, he said.
"I recommend it to anyone who wants some small self improvement."
According to Munavalli's office, Charlotte is one of the few cities nationwide to offer this procedure, which is the first of its kind approved by the FDA. That's because, as a clinical trial investigator, Munavalli is trained in the procedure.