Surgery is no longer the only option for those wanting to enhance their appearance.
While facelifts and other surgical procedures for those wanting to improve imperfections in their appearance are still valid options, in a lot of cases surgery is no longer necessary. New fillers, lasers and procedures are giving patients less invasive ways to get the look of a facelift for less, and Botox, approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2002, remains popular.
“One of the main reasons I opened Coccolare Spa is because a lot of people don’t really want to take the time away from work to have surgery,” says Dr. Cynthia Glass. “We can do a lot of facial rejuvenation without surgery.”
A new product on the market that’s become a game changer for many plastic surgeons is Sculptra Aesthetic. An injectable poly-L-lactic acid that fills out hollow areas of the face and smooths out wrinkles, Sculptra gradually replaces collagen lost during the aging process.
“Sculptra works to recruit your own cells,” explains Dr. Glass. “I think it’s good for people who might need a facelift but don’t want a facelift. It can turn back the hands of time 10 years or so.”
Dr. Jeffery Joseph with Acadian ENT & Facial Plastic Surgery Center says he’s also using Sculptra on many of his patients, but that they need to be aware results aren’t immediate. “It takes about a year to see the results,” he says, “but it keeps collagen around longer.”
Dr. Joseph is also doing more of what’s called a short-scar facelift, a procedure that sharpens the jawline and firms the chin and neck with a minimal incision. Scarring in the hairline, associated with a traditional facelift and disliked by patients because it interferes with their hairstyle, is almost completely eliminated with short-scar.
He explains that procedures like this are part of a trend to do “less with more. That’s where things are going,” he says. “We might take fat out of the neck or stomach and put it in areas of face.”
What Dr. Joseph is referring to is the transfer of fatty tissue. “In the last few years, this has been popularized and is becoming more successful,” says Dr. Terry Cromwell with Plastic Surgery Associates. While Cromwell and his partners do lots of liposuctions, they’re starting to do more of what’s called “liposculpture.”
The procedure involves taking fat out of one area and using it to fill in cavities in another area. “We have patients who will have a fall and after healing has occurred, it’ll cause an indentation,” he says. “Sometimes those can be quite noticeable, so what we can do now is when we’re doing our liposuction, we save some of that fat and put it into that defect so you have a nice smooth surface.”
Dr. Glass also injects fatty tissue into the breast area as an alternative to breast implants. She’s excited about the possibilities of the practice because of its potential for curing disease. “As they’re researching fat and fat cells, they’re finding that they’re full of stem cells,” she says. “Potentially, you could have your own fat removed, stored and then, if you had an injury or a tumor, the fat could be re-injected and could help to cure you.”
Lasers are also having a big impact on recovery time and ease when it comes to aesthetic medicine. Coccolare’s six lasers can do everything from dramatically improving wrinkles around the eyes to zapping cellulite, treating Rosacea and even fungus in the nails. Dr. Kenneth Odinet’s office is using a new laser called the Pearl Fractional to combat facial wrinkles, discoloration, brown spots, melasma and scarring.
“We’ve had Pearl for years, but Fractional is more aggressive and goes deeper,” says staff member and licensed skincare therapist Kristy Reynolds. “Lot of patients are doing Pearl fusion right now, which is both treatments together at the same time. Somebody in their early forties with mild sun damage and fine lines could do the regular Pearl over their whole face and then we could come back with Fractional around eyes or on top of the lip,” she explains.
While many laser treatments have little or no downtime, Reynolds says there is some recovery associated with Pearl Fractional. Patients could need to stay indoors for up to two weeks depending on how aggressively the treatment is applied. They’ll also experience some bleeding and oozing in the first 24 hours and possibly some swelling.
Dr. Odinet’s office ask patients to e-mail photos twice a day from home for the first two days to keep up with their progress before they come back into the office. Dr. Joseph says technology is also changing the way he does business and helping patients become more educated. He answers lots of questions through his website and also connects with patients on Facebook and Twitter.
Despite more opportunities for remote communication, he still suggests patients spend time with their doctor before a procedure and make sure any type of surgery will be done in a credited operating room. “I see all of my facelift patients for the first five days in a row to ensure everything goes well,” he adds. “Having someone tell them this is what you should look like gives them peace of mind.”
Dr. Glass can’t stress enough the importance of seeking out a board-certified plastic surgeon. “When a patient comes in to see me, they tell me their wants and needs and I will realistically try to tell them what I think I can accomplish,” she says. “I want everyone to know that it is a surgical procedure, it’s not like going to buy lipstick. That’s why you want someone who has been trained and tested.”