The "eyes are the window to the soul", they say, so if you’ve ever looked at old photos of yourself then you know how fine lines, brown spots and bags under your eyes can give away secrets about your age, even if your soul is feeling young!
Traditional plastic surgery procedures such as facelifts and browlifts do wonders to immediately improve your appearance, but if you’re looking for a more affordable alternative or if your problem areas are in the early stages and don’t necessarily require the downtime and recuperation typically needed for a facelift, then there are treatment alternatives you should investigate.
Often called nonsurgical or minimally invasive procedures, these treatments can eliminate lines, improve skin texture and take a few years off in the process. The key is finding a qualified practitioner and safe, clean environment to have them done in as they are medical procedures and not quite the same thing as a mani, pedi or highlights.
Used to produce a smoother-looking brow and forehead, Botox (a purified protein derived from the botulinum toxin) is given via tiny injections directly in to the muscle. As the nerves are restricted, muscle movement is diminished until facial lines begin to fade. Botox is effective on moderate to severe creases but is not a permanent solution, as treatment will need to be repeated usually every 3-4 months to keep lines from returning. Botox is an extremely popular minimally invasive procedure that has gained massive popularity in the past decade.
According to a recent special report from NBC, DIY Botox kits are on the rise. Common sense should apply here, as bootlegged Botox kits are easily available but they pose tremendous risks. These kits are not regulated nor sold from the manufacturer of Botox (Allergan, Irvine CA), so you don't really know what you're getting when you buy one. Go to a medical professional qualified to inject Botox to avoid potentially disastrous complications that can arise from bootlegged products such as infection, difficulty breathing and swallowing, and possibly even death.
Day spas around the country offer chemical peels and injections as part of their service menu but their training and knowledge of the product and technical expertise, if any, is often unknown.
Chemical Peel or Laser
Often used in conjunction with cosmetic facial surgery for rejuvenation, chemical peels and lasers work well on their own to improve sun damage, wrinkles, fine lines and even mild acne scarring. Peels contain one or a combination of lactic acid, glycolic acid, salicylic acid or alpha hydroxy acid to slough away dead skin and improve skin tone.
You will have to avoid being out in that hot Austin sun after skin resurfacing treatments, though, or you will run the risk of hyperpigmentation (dark discoloration) or hypopigmentation (light discoloration) of the skin. Newer generation lasers such as the dual wavelength Fraxel help with age spots, pigmentary problems and wrinkles all in the same treatment.
Soft tissue injectables
If you want to see immediate results over your lunch hour, consider an injectable treatment. Also called “soft tissue fillers,” injectable treatments are used directly under the surface of the skin to smooth out common wrinkle areas such as the frown lines, laugh lines and even lips.
Popular injectable products are Radiesse (calcium hydroxyapatite-based) and Restylane, Perlane and Juvederm (all hyaluronic acid-based). Your surgeon or dermatologist will discuss their differences in greater detail and whether a skin test is needed to check for allergies before treatment (skin tests are rarely necessary with the current products on the market).
Don’t forget the hands! Our hands go through a lot of wear and tear over the years resulting in dry skin, wrinkles and sunspots—talk about a dead giveaway about your age, even if that beautiful face is looking young. If our faces can be rejuvenated why shouldn’t our hands?
Although it’s a relatively new procedure, some plastic surgeons are using a combination peel or laser and soft tissue filler or fat injection treatment to revitalize aging hands. The skin resurfacing (laser or peel) softens the skin and eliminates brown spots, and the filler is injected in to the hands below the skin to appear more youthful and wrinkle-free.
Minimally invasive treatments can be an affordable and shorter term yet effective alternative to plastic surgery procedures, but care is needed in choosing the right provider. Day spas around the country offer chemical peels and injections as part of their service menu but their training and knowledge of the product and technical expertise, if any, is often unknown.
Do research on your health care provider and make sure they are board certified by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) in a core specialty like plastic surgery, dermatology, or ENT before proceeding with any of these services. If another licensed professional is performing the service, make sure they are supervised by a doctor in one of those specialties as well. The Austin area has numerous practicioners qualified to inject and peel, so do your research on the road to the "new you"!