Cosmetic Surgery continues to increase in popularity and demand. Procedures such as Breast Augmentation, Liposuction, Tummy Tucks, Nose Surgery, and Brazilian Butt Lifts top the list of procedures that our patients request. However, not everyone needs, or wants, a surgical procedure. They still want to improve their appearance, but desire to do it in a non-surgical way. Luckily, improvements in technology now allow us to make changes to the face and body without surgery. This allows people to improve their appearance without the pain, recovery, and expense associated with surgery.
Let’s take a look at the most popular non-surgical treatments for the face and body.
Botox has a strong hold on the number one spot for non-surgical cosmetic procedures. Botox is the most popular non-surgical treatment to reduce or eliminate fine lines and wrinkles on the face. During the treatment, Botox is injected into the desired areas using a small needle. The toxin blocks the nerve impulse to the muscle, temporarily paralyzing the muscle, and allowing wrinkles to relax. This is most commonly used between the eyebrows (“the 11’s”), in the forehead, and around the eyes (“crow’s feet”). Botox can also be used around the mouth to help elevate the corners of the mouth or reduce those “smoker’s lines”. Botox treatments are popular among both men and women of ages. The effect of Botox starts to work in a few days to a week, and lasts for about 3-4 months.
Another less know uses of Botox include treatment of hyperhidrosis, or excess sweating of the underarms, palms, and feet. Injections of Botox to these areas will decrease sweating and the results can last up to a year.
- Injectable Fillers
The number 2 spot belongs to injectable fillers. There are a variety of fillers available, each with it’s own unique characteristics. In fact, there may currently be about a dozen to choose from. The most common names that you have likely heard of are Restylane, Juvederm, and Radiesse. Each filler has slightly different qualities. Some are very thick, while others are very thin. This allows doctors to chose different options depending on what we are treating. Fillers can be used to smooth deep lines on the face, or fill under eye hollows. Fillers can also be used to inject into the nose, performing a non-surgical nose job. Fillers have also been injected into depressed scars, acne scars, and even to plump aging earlobes!
The treatment is performed in the office with minimal discomfort. There can be some bruising or swelling depending on exactly what area is being treated. We tell patients that the filler will look best starting about 1 week after the injection. The fillers can last anywhere from a few months to a few years, depending on the area treated and the specific filler used.
- Non-Invasive Fat Reduction
Liposuction, or the surgical removal of fat, still remains the best way to remove unwanted fat that is resistant to diet and exercise. As effective as liposuction is, it does come with pain, recovery, and expense associated with a surgical procedure. For those looking for non-surgical options, there are a few. Modern technology has figure out a way to destroy fat cells without surgery. This can be done using either cold or hot temperatures. These devices will cool, or heat, the areas of unwanted fat through the skin. This injures the fat cells, and the fat cells will ultimately die. The body will then eliminate the dead fat cells through a normal excretory function and will be passed in your urine. This process can take up to a few months and oftentimes, multiple treatment sessions are needed. The advantage of these non-surgical fat reduction options is that the procedure is painless and since there is zero required recovery, you can return to normal activities immediately.
There are some disadvantages though. Realistically, you can only expect a 20-25% reduction in fat, so these non-surgical options are not as effective as surgical fat removal. Also, while the cost may seem much lower than surgery, keep in mind that if you are treating multiple areas, and require multiple treatment sessions, the cost can increase to more than you would have spent to treat the same areas with surgical fat removal like liposuction.
Some well known names for these devices are Coolsculpt, Trusculpt, and Sculptsure, but there are about a dozen similar devices and more coming. As technology continues to improve, you can expect that the amount of fat reduction that can be achieved will increase.
- Facial Chemical Peels
There are some simple treatments that can be done to improve the appearance of your face. Chemical peels are a great way to treat active acne, reduce irregular pigmentation and sun-spots, smooth lines and wrinkles, and stimulate collagen. There are a variety of different chemical peels and each is customized to your specific needs. Peels can be superficial, meaning that they remove only the outer areas of skin. The advantage of superficial peels is that there is virtually no down time. Patients may notice some minor redness and irritation for a day or two. The disadvantage is that since it only treats the outer layers of skin, the improvement will be limited. Also, superficial peels are best when done at regular intervals, usually monthly.
Deeper peels will be more effective at treating lines, wrinkles, and irregular pigmentation. However, deeper peels can leave the face raw and irritated for more time. Some deep peels will require two or more weeks of downtime. Of course, there are also intermediate peels that may provide decent improvement in the skin with an acceptable 7-10 days of downtime.
Chemical peels can be done on the body as well. For example, peels can treat the skin of the neck. Anti-acne peels are also very popular for the back and buttock.
Lasers are similar to chemical peels in that they are designed to treat the skin at varying depths. Lasers emit light energy and are very specific for what they are going to treat. Specifically, a laser designed to treat irregular pigmentation is different from a laser designed to treat wrinkles. There are also lasers designed to treat spider veins, dark spots, rosacea, and acne. The advantage that lasers have over chemical peels is that modern lasers can treat deep layers of the skin, but do it by punching small holes in the skin. This is called “fractionated” and allows for deep treatment without the long recovery. Fractionated lasers do require multiple treatments but are very well tolerated. Like chemical peels, laser treatments can be performed anywhere on the body.
Combining Non-Surgical Procedures
Non-surgical procedures are often combined with each other. For example, if someone is looking to achieve a “non-surgical” facelift, it would require a combination of treatments. It is likely that the patient would require a laser or chemical peel to improve the overall quality of the skin and to smooth the texture. He or she would also likely require injectable fillers to smooth deep lines in the nasolabial or marionette region, or to fill those undereye hollows.
Non-surgical procedures can also be combined with surgical procedures. For example, it is not uncommon to utilize the non-surgical fat reduction technologies to help during the recovery process from liposuction, or to help smooth any contour irregularities. Additionally, botox, filler, lasers, and chemical peels are commonly utilized during a surgical facelift to improve the cosmetic outcome.