In the ongoing pursuit of ageless beauty, patients often seek the veritable next best thing: effectual treatments that offer real results with the added convenience of minimal downtime. Today’s cosmetic procedures aim to achieve nuance and subtlety over a decidedly “done” look, in line with the patient-driven trend for a more radiant and refreshed overall appearance. And while we’ve yet to see the perfect no-downtime procedure, science continues to evolve, developing advanced treatments for the face, skin and body.
The way we evaluate facial aging has changed in recent years, prompting a shift in blame away from skin laxity as the primary cause of facial aging. We now recognize that the deep fat compartments in certain areas of the face atrophy, lessening support in the lower face and causing a gaunt, aged appearance.
By supplementing the facelifts of yesteryear with modern volume restoration, physicians are better able to maintain the patient’s innate facial characteristics without altering their features past the point of recognition. The trick is to avoid overfilling—which often yields an unnatural, “chipmunk-like” result—and to include mid-cheek and temple filling, thereby adopting a pan-facial approach to volume correction versus treating one area in isolation from the rest of the face.
New from Juvéderm, Voluma XC is the first hyaluronic acid filler that’s FDA-approved to treat this type of volume loss in the cheek area. It has an advantage over similar fillers, as it is known to last longer (up to two years) and delivers natural-looking results by adding volume at the apex, apple and hollow of the cheek.
For more superficial creases, such as crow’s-feet or vertical lip lines, Belotero Balance provides adaptable correction that blends seamlessly into the skin. Unlike similar hyaluronic acid fillers, Belotero’s light consistency allows it to be injected superficially in the dermis. It also works to smooth and correct Botox creases that commonly occur after injections to the glabella and lateral brow.
It’s important to remember that fillers are not one-size-fits-all, and there is no one foolproof filler designed for every face. Patients should undergo a thorough consultation with their dermatologist or plastic surgeon to receive a customized injectable treatment plan.
Recent advancements in the way we address excess fat and treat loose, sagging skin on the body have propelled non-invasive fat reduction and skin tightening procedures to become one of the biggest emerging trends in the dermatological field.
Ultrasound and radiofrequency technologies can effectively lift sagging skin on the neck, upper arms, abdomen and thighs, and even treat crepiness on the elbows and knees, while fat reduction technologies offer new ways for patients to eliminate excess fat without surgery.
Cryolipolysis, a non-surgical mode of fat reduction found in technologies like CoolSculpting, provides an excellent nonsurgical alternative to treat stubborn fat pockets that are resistant to regular diet and exercise. CoolSculpting is FDA-approved for use on the abdomen and love handles, and is best for patients looking to reduce localized stubborn fat that is resistant to diet and exercise.
CoolSculpting technology isolates and literally freezes fat cells, then prompts their death without disturbing surrounding tissue. During the procedure, several cooling applicators may be used in an overlapping fashion to sculpt the targeted areas. Over a several-month period, the body naturally eliminates these fat cells, causing an overall reduction of fat in treated areas.
A new minimally invasive technology called ThermiRF also shows promise for its ability to remove unwanted fat while tightening and lifting the skin. Unlike cryolipolysis technologies, ThermiRF delivers radiofrequency energy to targeted areas via a tiny cannula that is inserted into the skin. This modality offers versatility to tighten tissue and contour areas such as the neck, chin, arms, abdomen and thighs.
The cannula simultaneously heats fat tissue (which is eventually eliminated by the body) and stimulates collagen production to tighten surrounding skin. The probe constantly monitors internal and external temperature to ensure a better safety profile and increase precision and control. The temperature can be set precisely to specifically stimulate collagen production and tightening; or, if desired, different temperature settings can be used to target fat reduction.
When it comes to treating laxity, wrinkles and dyspigmentation, topical skin care products provide an important adjunct to in-office procedures, as they prime and prepare the skin to achieve optimal results.
I’m a big proponent of growth factors for their ability to reverse the effects of sun damage and chronologic aging—two factors known to contribute to the degeneration of skin cells over time. SkinMedica’s TNS Essential Serum contains fibroblast growth factors, which promote collagen production within the dermis, along with l-ergothioneine, an amino acid recognized for its ability to repair breaks in DNA in skin cells as caused by UV exposure.
Retinol, too, offers powerful—and proven—photorejuvenation benefits. While it is an undisputed leader for its ability to transform skin texture and tone, retinol has also earned a reputation for inducing irritation in many individuals. That’s why new breakthroughs in topical delivery mechanisms show such promise: They not only improve the penetration of topical ingredients like retinol into the dermal layers, but they also improve tolerance in those patients prone to irritation from ingredients such as tretinoin, a form of retinol found in many prescription products.
For example, the liposomal carrier technology found in SkinMedica’s new Retinol Complex series allows the formulas to penetrate and be transformed into tretinoin within the dermis, minimizing side effects like flaking, redness and irritation. Without the aforementioned pitfalls so common in many retinol products, this gentle-yet-effective formula offers a solution for patients prone to sensitivity, and encourages routine use as suggested by dermatologists.
While no skin care breakthrough can obviate the need for a healthy lifestyle, topical skin care and wise lifestyle choices act as partners in achieving beautiful skin. When patients sleep well, stay hydrated, consume healthy, antioxidant-rich foods, minimize stressors and most importantly, avoid smoking and sun exposure, they make an important investment in the skin’s health and appearance.