“I’m going under the knife!”
A phrase exchanged so often by fashionistas in the ’90s. The aim; enhance their appearance and look their best.
Long brutal surgeries were followed by weeks of recovery, bruising, blood loss and pain. The financial cost was great. The cost of time was great and the result was irreversible. Along with an anxious wait for the swelling to die down and see how you would be left to look…for the rest of your life.
These days, plastic surgery is old news. We can look better, and look better quicker, at half the cost, one-hundredth of the risk and largely with the option of reversing the look should it not meet our expectations.
To start with, we have more knowledge. We know we are far likely to age slower with the use of sunscreen but without the use of sunbeds. (What we do not know, however, is that we should be wearing sunscreen 99.9% of the time. UVA (A for Ageing) is present despite every cloud and every cold drizzly day.) We have better skin care regimes, we are starting to smoke less and generally the uptake of exercise is becoming a little more prevalent.
But what else can be done without having to go under the knife?
Botulin Toxins and Dermal Fillers
When people think of non-surgical cosmetic procedures, the first thing that usually springs to mind is the use of facial injections. The popularity of Botulin Toxins and Dermal Fillers has soared over the last ten years and are now almost as common as going to have a monthly bikini wax. They are quick, simple, have a low side-effect profile (provided they are carried out in a medical clinic by a medical professional) and are becoming more and more cost-effective. Botulin Toxins not only help erase crow’s feet, they can also be used for migraines, help reduce areas of sweating, reduce the appearance of ‘Deidre Barlow’ necklines and even help people that grind their teeth.
Dermal Fillers on the other hand help support an ageing face. As we age, fat is reabsorbed causing structure loss, along with issues that weaken and sag. Most noticeable is often the reabsorption from the lips, allowing more teeth to become visible and lines to develop around the mouth. Many women dislike their lipstick ‘bleeding’ into these lines. Dermal fillers, containing hyaluronic acid, are a good solution.
They are a ‘fake fat’ that replaces fat in the face and lips. They can even be used in low weights to recreate a dynamic, but natural, lip border. Dermal fillers can also be used in place of a surgical rhinoplasty and a facelift. Altering contours in your nose and cheeks, they can straighten the nose and re-insert fallen cheek pads – leading to the lifting of the mid and lower face and potentially help to eradicate ‘jowls.’
These are not the only products on the market, however. Lasers have received a lot of press recently, marketed as a ‘quick fix’ for scars, pigmentations and lines. The reality is lasers have limitations. They can be fantastic when used in the right situation. For most people, however, there are other solutions.
‘Sunspots’ or ‘hyperpigmentations’ may be treated more effectively, and for half the price, using topical, prescribed products such as ‘Hydroquinone’. Not only will the outcome be more natural, but it will also prevent the risk of permanent pigmentation loss that can occur in darker skin types with laser therapy.
Lasers can, however, be particularly useful for tattoo removal. A perfect result should not be expected, and occasionally faint margins of colour may still be visible. Again, people with darker skin are at risk of losing areas of skin colour along with their tattoos.
With regards to skin care and looking younger, microdermabrasion is another ‘hot’ procedure of the moment, though one unlikely to go away anytime soon. The many layers of the skin are topped with a horny layer of dead keratinocytes which have been emerging from deep within the dermis over some time. These dead keratinocytes can make the skin look dull and grey.
Microdermabrasion is a non-invasive procedure which acts to remove this top layer of skin, creating a healthy glow, along with making your skin feel much smoother to the touch. Many cosmetic dermatologists will recommend starting any treatment plan with this procedure and will even suggest it on an initial consultation.
To really alter the skin, however, we need to ‘tickle’ the dermis itself. This is the middle layer of the skin which has the ability to turn over cells at a quicker rate when stimulated. Quicker cell turnover leads to fresher, younger skin and a reduction in fine lines and wrinkles.
Stimulating the dermis can be carried out in two ways:
1. Needling. Dermal rollers and dermal pens
2. Medium Depth Chemical Peels
Both penetrate deep within the skin, causing a period of inflammation and redness. This phase awakens cells that have ‘switched off’ after the age of 25. When the skin calms down, the turnover rate of cell production is much quicker. Chemical peels particularly help to tighten skin that has become lax. Much more effort is required for these procedures, especially as there is a period of recovery unlike other non-invasive procedures, but the results can be well regarded and long-lasting.
With any procedure, the best results are those that are natural and that complement the ageing process. However, this does not mean premature ageing and poor skin quality need to be accepted. There are many procedures on the market to assist people as their face changes and can have dramatic impacts on self-esteem and appearance.
And luckily, these days, no knife is required.