I often tell my friends that I need to start watching daytime tv, because at least once a week we have someone call the office asking about a procedure they saw on Dr. Oz, or Oprah, or another show. Often I end up googling (yes, doctors do use google- you’re not really surprised, right?) the terms I haven’t heard to see what is actually being described in medical terms, so that I know whether or not it is a procedure we offer. Many of these procedures focus on non-invasive “face-lifts”. Terms like the liquid face-lift and Vampire face-lift have actually been trademarked, but are actually only a slightly different way to use an already existing treatment. Today I’m going to talk about non-invasive ways to make the face appear younger, and give you my two cents.
The Aging Face – To understand how to fix an aging face, you need to first understand what makes it look older in the first place. Skin becomes lax, wrinkled, and dyspigmented. I’ve talked about wrinkles and dyspigmentation in other posts, so I’ll let you refer to those. The other big change is volume loss. The fat we have in faces during youth, especially along the cheeks, atrophies as we age. So here I’m going to talk about ways to fix the skin laxity and volume loss that come with age.
Volume Loss – Replacing lost volume can be done essentially two different ways. Fat grafting takes some of your own fat and moves it to where the volume has been lost. The fat develops new blood supply, so this is essentially a permanent solution. But up to 50% of the fat transplanted may not live, so you may require a touch-up procedure. Fillers such as Radiesse and Sculptra are another way to restore lost volume, and this is essentially what a “liquid facelift” does. Different fillers last different amounts of time, so discuss with your doctor which solution is right for you. The Vampire facelift is essentially fillers combined with platelet-rich plasma- it takes your blood and processes it to get out the serum which supposedly has growth factors and stem cells that will improve the appearance of your skin above and beyond just regular fillers. But to my knowledge, there aren’t any good studies on whether the extra effort and money result in any actual difference compared to simply using a filler.
Skin Laxity – The traditional way to improve skin laxity is to remove the excess skin, which is what is done in a face-lift. But heating up the skin and underlying tissue will also cause the collagen to remodel, resulting in tightening of the overlying skin. Heating up the skin can be done a number of ways: Thermage uses radiofrequency, Ulthera uses ultrasound, and SkinTyte uses broad-band light. But the principle is the same. They do result in an improvement in skin tightness, although not as significant as you would get with surgery. The specifics of each treatment are more than I can go into here, so ask your physician which therapy he or she has experience with.
Do you have any experience with fillers or skin tightening procedures that you would like to share?