Beautiful Results with Non-Invasive Cosmetic Procedures

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We’ve all seen the commercial about the man or woman who inherits a double chin from an illustrious ancestor and decides to do something about it. Kybella® is an injectable that removes moderate under chin fat, or submental fat.

It’s part of a trend in treating cosmetic issues nonsurgically. Once upon a time, the facelift was the gold standard of anti-aging cosmetic procedures, but the full lift now has a complement of additional procedures that help women look their best at all ages. Thankfully, that tight, “wind tunnel” look is a thing of the past. More women and men are flocking to noninvasive methods either from fear of surgery, because they’re looking for something less costly, or just because they want to look refreshed, not necessarily drastically younger.

Even the facelift has become gentler with such things as thread lifts; one is the brand name Silhouette Instalift, and the now defunct Lifetyle facelift, a less invasive procedure that targeted just the lower part of the face. Lifestyle Lift shuttered its doors in 2015 due to declining sales. Lifestyle Lift was a mini-lift that targeted not the skin, but the layer of tissue right below it. The Silhouette Instalift uses surgical-grade thread inserted under the jawline to tighten it. Dissolvable cones attached to the thread hook onto connective tissue below the dermis. The tightening can last up to 18 months, depending on the patient, and costs about $3,000.

But even more popular are noninvasive methods, such as dermal fillers that restore a youthful look by plumping areas that become concave as we age. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons’ website notes, “As we age, our faces naturally lose subcutaneous fat. The facial muscles are then working closer to the skin surface, so smile lines and crow’s feet become more apparent. The facial skin also stretches a bit, adding to this loss of facial volume. Other factors that affect the facial skin include sun exposure, heredity and lifestyle.”

Dermal fillers such as Radiesse® and Restylane® can restore the curve to thin lips, fill out shallow contours, dissolve facial creases and wrinkles and even improve the appearance of recessed scars. These and other fillers are used extensively by plastic surgeons and aesthetic medical practices.

Remember the commercial for Kybella? A pocket of fat under the chin can be as bad as gravity for losing definition there. Approved by the FDA in 2015, Kybella is an injectable, synthetic fat dissolver, deoxycholic acid, which exists naturally in our bodies. A drawback is that it can cause nerve damage or difficulty in swallowing, risks plastic surgeons are clear about.

Botox®, the mainstay of Hollywood and the uber-wealthy, erases deep lines that develop on our foreheads and between our eyes. It’s made from a toxin that is deposited through injection to relax muscles; results last up to six months.

In the last few years, there’s been a buzz about tightening skin through procedures that go by the brand names of Thermage and EndyMed, among others. These processes tighten the skin via radio frequency that heats deep layers of the skin, causing controlled damage. The tissue heating causes tightening of the skin’s collagen and production of new collagen. Along the same line is Fraxel, which tightens skin through a directed laser.

Liposuction, which gained popularity in the ’90s, is still in use, but newer, less invasive treatments have been developed in the intervening years.

SculpSure is an FDA-cleared laser treatment for noninvasive lipolysis of the flanks and abdomen; in other words, it’s liposuction without the suction. It sculpts and defines through a light-based laser, and is particularly effective for stubborn areas, such as love handles and abdomen, that are resistant to diet and exercise. Many patients see results with just one treatment; it takes about six months for the body to evacuate the destroyed fat cells. Studies of SculpSure demonstrate up to 24 percent fat reduction of the treated area.

Cryolipolysis treatment methods, approved by the FDA beginning in 2010, use sub-zero temperatures to freeze fat cells and demolish them. Cryolipolysis can target fat cells without damaging surrounding skin and organs, and without the risk of blood clots and infection that accompanied liposuction. CoolSculpting® uses a special device to cool fat cells to the point of death; the body flushes the dead cells out over three months. Zerona® is a cold laser that targets superficial fat cells, causing the storage form of fat to leak out into the cell. It’s then flushed out of the patient’s system, which results in shrinkage of the fat cell itself. Results are usually seen within three to four weeks.

Always consult a board-certified plastic surgeon and do your homework when you’re considering these and other noninvasive procedures. Your doctor will be able to advise which treatments are preferable and most effective for your skin and body type. ■

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