Table of Contents
Synthol Vs Hyaluronic Acid Site Enhancement Products In Bodybuilding
What Is SEO?
Site Enhancement Oil (SEO) is rampant in bodybuilding.
Anytime a top pro brings up a severely lagging body part that has been an issue for years, SEO is almost always the thing responsible, and not a sudden change in training technique.
Granted, with that being said, it still isn’t a miracle worker.
There are countless top IFBB pro bodybuilders notorious for lagging body parts, and I’d be shocked if they hadn’t tried everything in the book to try and bring them up.
E.G. Ben Pakulski, who has many times claimed he has the most cutting edge and knowledgeable training techniques, and would hook himself up to all kinds of cutting edge machines to test muscle firing and execute “next level” techniques (which I’m sure also included site enhancement injections), and yet his arms still severely lagged behind the rest of his body for his entire career.
Now, to preface this article, let’s clarify what is generally regarded as “SEO” to bodybuilders.
The acronym stands for Site Enhancement Oil as I mentioned, however, the term “SEO” has started to be used in a far more general context, and nowadays commonly is also used to describe products that aren’t oil based at all.
One example being Hyaluronic Acid based “SEO”.
For the sake of simplicity, I will be referring to all site enhancement products in this article as SEO, as that category is just widely referred to now as encompassing all products that are injected into a specific area to achieve a localized growth effect.
BUT, be aware that it is NOT accurate whatsoever to refer to anything non-oil based as an SEO.
This is just how the acronym has evolved as it made its way through underground bodybuilding circles over the years.
What Does SEO Do And What Is The Mechanism Of Action Behind It’s Effect On Muscle Growth?
There is a huge misconception that Synthol creates these weird looking freaks you see on the internet:
Most of these guys are just slamming themselves full of Liters (not millilitres) of random oil, not necessarily Synthol.
All Synthol really is is sterilized oil with no hormone in it.
E.G. the oil that could suspend the Steroids you may already inject, without the Steroids in them.
The idea behind it is that if you inject enough of it, you will eventually need more room in the muscle to accommodate all of that oil, as there is only a finite space of muscle to accommodate it.
Once you reach that tipping point where the muscle needs more room to accommodate the amount of oil being pushed into it, the fascia of the muscle would forcefully stretch to accommodate the contents being pushed into it.
Once the body has metabolized that oil, you are left with newly stretched space that can be filled in with real muscle tissue.
A lot of bodybuilders use it, but it is used in sane quantities (or at least less insane), so it goes without notice most of the time, although there are still times where shots go wrong and it becomes quite obvious on stage that something is up.
What Exactly Is Synthol Made Of?
Traditional “Synthol” is comprised of 85% oil, 7.5% of Lidocaine (numbing agent/painkiller) and 7.5% alcohol (to sterilize the solution).
All 3 of which are commonly included in medical grade injections for various drugs.
The most relatable in this context being anabolic steroids.
The oil your steroids are suspended in is just sterile oil with some alcohol added to sterilize the solution.
That means that without the hormone in it (whatever steroid you are injecting whether that be Testosterone, Nandrolone, etc.), you are technically injecting Synthol.
Even when you inject your weekly TRT shot you’re technically injecting small amounts of Synthol.
Every one has this huge misconception that Synthol is some sort of foreign compound that blows up a muscle, but the reality is that it’s just the same sterile oil everything you already inject is suspended in, it’s just used in exorbitant beyond extreme quantities when it comes to forcefully inducing fascial stretching in a localized muscle group.
Botched Synthol Injections
Most of the time, the more disastrous cases of blown up looking body parts are caused by steroid shot infections where the guy just should’ve stayed home.
As mentioned previously as well, there are the guys you see all over the internet with horrible looking ballooned muscles, who are typically just guys with no foundation of muscle tissue to begin with who just shot obscene amounts (literally tens of thousands of millilitres) of oil into themselves and ruined their physiques.
Responsible use of Synthol (sterile oil used to manually stretch the fascia) is often completely unnoticed, especially when used in an intelligent way in a muscle group that is already well developed, but may just genetically lag behind the rest of the body.
That is the true intention of Synthol, not to shove thousands of millilitres into a foundation-less physique, but rather to help bring up a lagging body part in an already well developed physique with muscle bellies that can accommodate that extra fascial stretching without looking distorted or unnatural.
Hyaluronic Acid Vs Synthol For Site Enhancement
Oil based Synthol use has been around for decades.
However, only in more recent years has Hyaluronic Acid been utilized for the purposes of fascial stretching.
Purported as a new science in many bodybuilding circles, most are completely oblivious to the fact that this “new science” is simply based upon new-age dermal fillers that are used for getting rid of visible wrinkles, face lifts, and even the volumization of certain muscle groups.
For example, women commonly get Hyaluronic Acid shots in their butts for augmentation and shaping.
Which Is Better And Why?
The reason why it is garnering so much attention is largely because it can replicate the same level of fascial stretching as traditional Synthol usage without the need to administer copious amounts of product.
There are also some marketing claims made by underground sellers of the product that are less notable, but I will get into those later.
Basically the main draw of it is it can suck up multiple times its’ weight in water, hence it can be used in much lower volumes with far fewer injections, and achieve a comparable, or even superior level of fascial stretching, with a greater margin of error as there are several clinical studies to back up its use as a well tolerated volumizing agent.
Fewer injections also is just far more convenient and results in a lower chance of nicking something, jabbing through something you shouldn’t have, or otherwise causing some major health complication which would be far more likely with hundreds of milliliters of foreign sterile oil being shoved into your muscle on a daily basis.
A standard Synthol loading protocol would typically have a user injecting 5-10x as much total volume as a Hyaluronic Acid based loading protocol.
Determining which is better would ultimately be up to personal preference and one’s own individual response to a particular product, but I’d say just from a clinical data and efficiency standpoint, it’s safe to say that highly cross-linked and concentrated (mg/ml) cosmetic grade Hyaluronic Acid like Juvederm (or a formidable generic) is going to be the candidate of choice for intramuscular fascial stretching.
History Of Hyaluronic Acid Dermal Fillers
While Botox and other brands used for cosmetic enhancements are the most well known to the general public, more recent developments using Hyaluronic Acid based dermal fillers have started to take the limelight in cosmetic procedures.
The reason being that Hyaluronic Acid based fillers are well tolerated by the body, and the skin already has Hyaluronic Acid present in it, it simply diminishes with age, and is partly what is responsible for the aging process of the skin.
So not only is it a bioidentical substance already present in the body, but it is able to suck up multiple times its’ weight in water and plump up and/or smooth out specific areas of the face.
It is most commonly used to fill wrinkles, and plump up/enlarge lips.
It rarely causes allergic reactions, is generally well tolerated, and it lasts for a long time, making it an ideal candidate for several different applications in plastic surgery.
How Are Hyaluronic Acid Fillers Created
In order to make Hyaluronic Acid more durable, Hyaluronic Acid molecules are linked to one another.
More cross-linking makes the Hyaluronic Acid molecules firmer in consistency, more water absorbent, and longer lasting.
How Do You Know How Potent A Hyaluronic Acid Based Site Enhancement Product Is?
An experienced clinician will choose the Hyaluronic Acid with right amount of cross-linking to meet your specific needs, based on the area(s) requiring treatment.
If the cross linking is very minimal it makes it a thin liquid, which is typically ideally suited for under-eye or tear trough fillers, whereas if the cross linking is much higher, it makes it a very thick gel, which is typically suited for bony areas of the face to enhance bony prominences like cheek bones, or site specific muscles in the body (like the buttocks) where it is administered intramuscularly to achieve maximum volumization/enlargement as it plumps up the most (absorbs the most water).
The more cross-linked and concentrated (mg/ml) the HA is, the thicker it will be, and the more water it will suck up/plump up whatever it is sitting in (skin, muscle, etc.).
The more water it can suck up and the longer it can stay put without degradation, the more volumization/fascial stretching potential there would be.
This is an example of a highly cross-linked/concentrated cosmetic grade Hyaluronic Acid dermal filler.
Pay close attention to the viscosity of the syringe contents in particular, as well as the fact that it's preloaded due to how dense it is (fast forward to 1:30).
Cosmetic Grade Hyaluronic Acid Fillers Vs Underground Private Labeled Hyaluronic Acid Fillers
For these underground products to be cost effective, they are typically sold in concentrations that are quite weak.
As mentioned, the thinner and less concentrated a Hyaluronic Acid filler is, the quicker it will degrade, and the less water it will suck up.
One preloaded syringe of Juvederm can cost upwards of $500-1000
Granted, these are cosmetic grade prices, meaning the FDA has looked at them and approved them for plastic surgery/cosmetic procedures, and with this approval comes a giant markup from the manufacturer.
However, these are still the top of the line products in terms of potency, and while there are places to get generic brand-less dermal fillers formidable in concentration and cross-linking, it is not easy to come by, and the government will make sure of that.
It would make zero sense to put a brand-less filler on the market for $40-50 when they can ensure there is no competition in the market legally allowed to sell a cosmetic grade filler at that concentration, slap a FDA approved label on the approved brands, and sell each preloaded syringe via plastic surgeons for $500-1000+
It’s highly unlikely an underground seller will be able to profit on marking up preloaded syringes of top notch Hyaluronic Acid if they kept pricing semi-reasonable, because the cost of just one syringe of this stuff is so exorbitant.
E.G. if you’re buying them and trying to private label them, and you’re getting them in from China at $20-30 each, you would probably need to charge a minimum of $50+ just to make some money on each unit after you factor in shipping, labeling, credit card processor merchant fees, website hosting, marketing, hiring employees to ship the product and package it, etc.
Would any bodybuilder pay $50-100 for one shot of Hyaluronic Acid?
This is why these underground products are coming in multi-dose vials with lower than satisfactory levels of potency.
If a Hyaluronic Acid product even resembles liquid in any capacity and can be sucked up through a multi-dose vial with thinner than a 20 gauge needle, I would be extremely skeptical, and then I would be looking at how many mg/ml the product actually contains.
These products come preloaded in ready to shoot syringes for a reason for plastic surgery.
They are so viscous and thick, that they need to be preloaded in a syringe and ready to go during manufacturing; they can’t be sucked up through a multi-dose vial for administration.
If you want to see how potent your product is, just compare it side by side with Juvederm, or a formidable cosmetic grade brand at a concentration used in plastic surgery for volumization.
Also, whatever product you are using should explicitly state how many milligrams per millilitre the product contains.
If you are buying an underground product that just says “high potency” or something along those lines, you need to question further.
How Long Does Synthol Last Vs Hyaluronic Acid
There is a huge misconception about how long these SEO products will sit in the muscle for.
Because Synthol is literally just sterile oil, the body metabolizes it fairly quickly.
Within a few days actually, it’s only once you start getting into the extreme quantities, pinning it every single day (loading phase), that it obviously will take your body longer to metabolize it all and get rid of it.
Think about how long it takes for your body to get rid of the oil in your glute that you shoot once or twice per week with Testosterone.
You’re probably pinning the same spot again a week later right?
That’s because your body can metabolize the sterile oil the steroid is suspended in that quickly where the spot is ready to go again a week later.
Granted, once you start pinning multiple compounds in higher dosages, or shorter esters, that’s when injection site rotation becomes far more of a necessity, but just for simplicity purposes, I’m laying out the fact that sterile oil is readily absorbed and metabolized by the human body fairly quickly.
Highly cross-linked and concentrated Hyaluronic Acid fillers on the other hands have been proven in clinical studies to last up to 2 years before they are fully broken down.
When it comes to being permanent, Hyaluronic Acid based site enhancement products will sit in your muscle the longest, BY FAR (at least compared to Synthol).
Is that a bad thing though?
No, the whole point of using a dermal filler like that is for long lasting results, and to reap the benefits of it without the body just degrading it within days.
Meaning you can get away with FAR less injection frequency, and reap the volumization rewards of it for a FAR longer span of time.
The issue is that some individuals marketing it on the underground market are completely oblivious to how this stuff works in the first place, and are throwing around misinformation stating that Synthol is permanent and that Hyaluronic Acid is in and out of the body quickly.
It’s quite the opposite.
The only way a Hyaluronic Acid filler would be broken down quickly by the body would be if it was less cross-linked and less concentrated.
But, then you would be defeating the purpose of it in a bodybuilding context anyways, as these products would be used to achieve maximum fascial stretching, and not to provide a negligible plumping effect (if any at all) and be broken down in the body within days.
To achieve the true maximum benefits of volumization/water absorption/fascial stretching in a localized muscle group, enough Hyaluronic Acid would need to be shot into it with as highly concentrated (mg/ml) and cross-linked of a viscous product as possible.
There are tons of studies to support Hyaluronic Acid usage in cosmetic procedures.
Instead of listening to random “bodybuilding gurus” or guys perceived as authorities in the industry due to their good genetics and drug response, I compel you to read through the research yourself.
There is so much misinformation in this industry, the only way you can be certain you aren’t getting biased, or completely misinformed information is by diving into it yourself head first.
So, who can you trust then?
Honestly, you need to become skilled at sifting through BS, consulting with those who have an abundance of personal experience and are intelligent, personal experimentation, and just soaking up every single source of credible information you can until you can arrive at an educated conclusion on your own.
Supporting Clinical Studies And References
Stabilized hyaluronic acid gel for volume restoration and contouring of the buttocks: 24-month efficacy and safety: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24464121
Comparison of noncross‐linked and cross‐linked hyaluronic acid with regard to efficacy of the proliferative activity of cutaneous fibroblasts and keratinocytes in vitro: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23438140
A Multicenter, Single-Blind Randomized, Controlled Study of a Volumizing Hyaluronic Acid Filler for Midface Volume Deficit: Patient-Reported Outcomes at 2 Years: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4482214/
Hyaluronic acid gel (Juvéderm) preparations in the treatment of facial wrinkles and folds: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2682392/
Comparative Physical Properties of Hyaluronic Acid Dermal Fillers: http://www.clinicadepele.com.br/artigos/preenchimento/HA_group_comp.pdf
Hyaluronic Acid: Crosslinking And Degradation: https://www.iralab.it/en/publications/hyaluronic-acid-crosslinking-and-degradation/