Botox? Restylane? Fraxel? How big business is getting into your wallet.

theft.gifTime article: Buying your face

Botox is no longer the only game in town. With competitors ready to pounce on an expiring patent, Allergan is bringing the guns to bear.

Allergan: Botox & Juvederm

Allergan, a specialty pharmaceutical outfit with sales of $2.9 billion, will put the same marketing muscle behind Juvéderm that made Botox a household name. There are some potential wrinkles in that plan, though. Botox, a facial-muscle relaxant that was used by some 3.5 million people last year, had the market to itself; Juvéderm has a competitor before it's even out of the box: Restylane, the current best-selling hyaluronic-acid filler, made by Medicis, a $344 million dermatological company based in Scottsdale, Ariz. And Medicis' Perlane, a more robust version of Restylane, is expected to get the FDA's thumbs-up any day now. Down the road, there's a possibly even bigger blow, Reloxin, a Botox-like alternative.

Also in Medicis' corner: plans for a Medicis-sponsored reality-TV show, The Hottest Mom in America.

(Please not another plastic surgery reality show.) But the Fraxel Crew is not to be outdone. Following the Thermage business model of high cost disposables, Reliants got a plan to get into consumables too.

Reliant: Doctors have money. We want some. 

Reliant Technologies, a privately held company in Mountain View, Calif., known for its popular resurfacing laser, Fraxel. Its newest model, Fraxel SR1500, which lets dermatologists treat deeper layers of skin, sells for $110,000. Orders have been pouring in, but the revenue stream doesn't stop there. The handheld device requires a special tip that needs to be replaced after four to six treatments. Cost per tip: $400. "It is a great business model," says Reliant vice president of global sales Keith J. Sullivan, with a grin.

I'll bet if Keith J. Sullivan was speaking to a medical journal and not a business publication there would have been less smirking. Anyone really think that the tip costs Reliant more than $10?