Cosmetic Procedures for Aging Skin
With so many surgical and nonsurgical cosmetic procedures that can all work wonders to make the face look younger, it’s hard to determine which option might serve your particular needs best. Here are a few pointers to help you decide.
When Botox No Longer Helps
When you notice the appearance of wrinkles along the upper lip contour and a sagging of the jowls, you need more than botox to restore your youthful looks. But with so many cosmetic procedures to choose from, it’s hard to know which will serve your needs best. A facelift? Resurfacing? Laser? A chemical peel? Fillers?
Before you consult a clinic, here are a few pointers to help determine which procedure might be appropriate for your particular problem.
It’s obviously sad if you feel you need a facelift at the tender age of 40, but the earlier you start with the procedure the better. According to surgeons, if you undergo your first facelift when your skin is still relatively elastic, results can last up to 20 years, meaning you’ll need fewer repeat operations during the course of your life.
A complete facelift—or a rhytidectomy as it’s referred to in medical jargon—includes several procedures starting with the mid facelift.
How a Mid Facelift is Performed
After making incisions from the temples to the earlobes, the surgeon loosens the cheek skin to the nasolabial folds to expose underlying tissue, tendons and muscles. These are pulled together and trimmed, which eliminates sagging jowls and leaves the cheeks and jawline smooth and firm.
Why a Mid Facelift Can Leave a Mask-Like Effect
In the old days, a facelift involved nothing more than superficially stretching and tightening the skin, which always resulted in a mask-like appearance with misplaced mouth corners and a glassy complexion. Although surgeons don’t stretch skin nowadays, the healing process does cause skin tissue to shrink which has the same effect. This isn’t visibly noticeable if you undergo a facelift only once, but it can become noticeable after a second or third facelift.
Forehead, Neck, Chin, Eyes and Mouth
A brow or forehead lift is called browplasty surgery. It’s usually done endoscopically to minimize scarring (minimal incision technique).
How a Browplasty is Performed
First, the surgeon makes four to six incisions about three-quarters of an inch above the hairline. Using an endoscopic instrument, tissue is detached from the bone and pulled up towards the scalp. The muscle at the bridge of the nose is then severed to weaken the forehead muscles, which prevents frowning.
This procedure causes the hairline to rise by about a quarter of an inch, so it’s not a good idea if you’ve already got a high forehead.
Alternatively, the surgeon can perform the procedure conventionally by opening up the forehead. Results last longer than with the minimal incision technique, and the hairline doesn’t rise, but scarring is obvious.
Browplasty surgery is worth investing in if you’re a regular botox user—results are permanent and often more natural looking, although, as with the mid facelift, it can make your face look mask-like if carried out more than once or twice.
Neck and Chin
A chin tuck and neck lift firm sagging tissue of the neck and chin and are usually performed simultaneously with a mid facelift.
Blepharoplasty refers to cosmetic surgery of the eyes. It erases under eye circles and reshapes upper and lower eyelids by removing excess fat and skin. This is done through the lid creases, where stitching is practically invisible.
A mid facelift improves the appearance of down turned mouth corners, while a noninvasive resurfacing procedure removes wrinkling along the upper lip.
Noninvasive Cosmetic Procedures
Unlike surgery, resurfacing cannot alter facial contours, but it can improve skin texture and eradicate wrinkles and age spots.
There are two resurfacing procedures: chemical and laser. Both have a sloughing effect to encourage skin renewal, and both burn to stimulate collagen production, which gives the skin a plumper, smoother appearance.
Countless chemicals of varying strengths are used in resurfacing procedures depending on what is to be treated. The retinoic peel, for example, aids scar removal, while a beta hydroxy peel can help acne patients. The phenol peel and so-called ‘blue peel’ are more aggressive and are mostly used for skin rejuvenating procedures.
The Phenol Peel
The phenol peel is the strongest peel available, and is only necessary if wrinkles are very deep. It must be carried out under general anesthetic and the healing process is painful. Fortunately, a single treatment session usually suffices to achieve desired results.
Formulas have improved over the years, but be warned—the phenol peel can still cause severe scarring, trigger cardiac arrest, and damage the circulatory system, kidneys and liver. It may also leave the skin sensitive to light and prone to sunburn.
The phenol peel is most commonly used to remove wrinkles from areas that cannot be treated with surgery, like the lip contour, rather than the whole face.
THE ‘Blue Peel’
‘Blue peel’ is the term used for resurfacing with trichloroacetic acid (TCA).
This is milder than the phenol peel, and suitable to remove fine lines and age spots. It’s called the ‘blue peel’ because it literally leaves the face blue. Two days after initial treatment, however, the face sheds its blue stained cells and a process of regeneration begins, which takes about two weeks.
Basically, when struck by a laser beam, collagen fibers contract by about a third of their length, which makes them more elastic and thus able to pull skin tight.
Laser technology continues to advance, but, as of 2016, you can expect to be treated with an Er:Yag laser to iron out wrinkles.
With modern lasers, there’s absolutely no risk of scarring, which is a huge advantage over chemical peeling. Apart from that, a laser can remove all the blemishes a chemical peel can plus more—like broken capillaries and unwanted permanent makeup.
Another possibility is fillers. These are substances like collagen, lactic acid or fat that are injected into lines and wrinkles. Fillers present a much less radical procedure than those mentioned above, and are ideal if your main issue is prominent nasolabial folds, frown lines or crow’s feet.
Second image: Blausen.com staff. "Blausen gallery 2014". Wikiversity Journal of Medicine. DOI:10.15347/wjm/2014.010. ISSN 20018762. (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Third image: Dr. Brown/flickr.com (CC BY-SA 2.0)
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