Flawless skin, a youthful complexion – let’s face it, we all want it. When you’re eyeing someone and trying to guess their age, the first things you look at are their muscle tone and skin texture. There comes a time when, no matter how many facials, chemical peels, and microcurrent sessions you do, there’s still something missing. So, when is it considered okay to whip out the big guns and get some cosmetic help without actually going under the knife?
Minimally invasive injectables like Botox (a neurotoxin) and dermal fillers are easily accessible and more and more people are experimenting with them at younger ages. These services are being offered on discount sites like Groupon and Gilt and promoted heavily on social media. According to The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, injectable use has spiked by 40% over the past five years. Now, let’s break down some of the most popular cosmetic procedures on the market.
Botox is a drug prepared from the bacterial toxin botulin. In large amounts it’s deadly. In controlled and regulated amounts, it is very safe. For decades, Botox has been used medically to treat conditions like migraines, lock jaw, muscle spasms, and hyper hydrosis (excessive sweating). And, it has gained huge popularity in the cosmetic world for its ability to remove wrinkles by blocking nerve signals in the facial muscles and temporarily paralyzing them. For those who chronically squint or furrow their eyebrows, Botox prevents them from doing those activities, reducing the chance for wrinkles to form. This is why some people get Botox. But, there’s a downside, as doing it too often actually causes the muscles to atrophy.
HYALURONIC ACID FILLERS
It is not only muscles that are affected as we age. The fat, bone, and skin in the face also begin to thin. Deep crevices creep up, mostly visible in the cheeks, lips, and around the mouth. Dermal fillers, contain ingredients like hyauloronic acid to retain water, adding fullness to these areas. They can last anywhere from three to six months on average.
Some of the most popular hyaluronic acid fillers on the market include Juvederm and Restylane. Hyaluronic acid is found naturally in our bodies, in soft connective tissue, with the highest concentrations in the joints, eyes, and skin. Unfortunately, our bodies stop producing it at the age of 26. Researchers say it is not necessarily the ingredients in these fillers that are responsible for the youthful look; it’s the very nature of injections that cause micro trauma to the skin, creating new collagen.
Finally, another hot antiaging trend is the platelet rich plasma (PRP) or vampire facial. A PRP facial begins with a sample of the patient’s own blood. The sample is then spun in a centrifuge in such a way that the platelets in the blood become concentrated in a small fraction of the plasma. This platelet rich plasma is what is used in the vampire facial. The plasma is evenly distributed over the face and, then, a highly controlled microneedling technique is used, where several tiny, sterile needles create small micro tears in the skin so that the PRP can penetrate the skin. These superficial wounds help reduce fine lines and improve the skin’s overall texture. According to Dr. Alexander Kulick, a New York City board-certified expert in mesotherapy and other alternative cosmetic techniques, “PRP can also be injected at a dermal level to create the effect of a relatively non-invasive face lift. As we age, there are fat pads that atrophy and break down. By using PRP selectively in those areas, one can restore the youthfulness of the face.”
Anyone seeking out any of these cosmetic services should go to a licensed medical professional that has the training, expertise, and skills in facial anatomy. This is not the time to bargain shop.
Annette Hanson is the founder of Atelier Esthétique Institute of Esthetics in Manhattan, a New York state licensing, NACCAS-accredited skin care school, postgraduate facility, and the first United States aesthetics college to be recognized by London’s International Therapy Examination Council (ITEC). Her professional experience spans more than 30 years as a Paris-trained aesthetician, waxing specialist, body therapist, salon manager, and spa consultant. A creator of two product lines, she is also a published author and sought-after lecturer at leading professional conferences worldwide. She was instrumental in the development of the 600-hour curriculum for the New York state aesthetics license, as well as the written and practical exam. She served as an educator on the Appearance Enhancement Advisory Committee to New York’s Secretary of State. She was inducted into the Aesthetics International Association (A.I.A.) industry legends in August 2009 by DERMASCOPE Magazine. She is on the leadership committee of the ASCP Skin Care School Council (Associated Skin Care Professionals).