As we age, skin changes and the result is volume loss, an uneven texture and wrinkles. Enter appearance medicine: the answer for some to winding back the clock.
Today’s appearance medicine options are many and varied and, while the results are determined by your age and lifestyle, they can offer great results. Experts agree nothing is permanent and each of these treatments requires ongoing maintenance.
The latest dermal fillers are an instant solution to wrinkles and volume loss and work to replace the fullness to the face that deflates with age. Fillers are composed of synthetic hyaluronic acid (HA), which is naturally present in the body, and works by drawing moisture to the area being treated. The most common include Restylane and Juvederm and both can be injected around the mouth, into hollows under the eyes, in the temples, cheeks and even the backs of the hands.
Dr Joanna Romanowska from Clinic 42 in Auckland believes “Most facial volume loss starts to occur around the age of 40, although depending on lifestyle it can be noticeable in the late 30s. This loss of volume allows the skin to follow gravity, and sink down into folds and wrinkles, jowls and bags. Reversing this volume loss by injection of hyaluronic fillers or fat, restores the contours and smoothes out some of the lines and wrinkles.” Romanowska says combining fillers with treatments such as Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Botox, vitamin infusion facials and skin needling improves the texture and tone of the skin as well.
Expect to pay from $7,500.
New on the block is calcium hydroxylapatite, a substance found naturally in the body. Branded Radiesse, this restores facial volume and promotes collagen production. Lasting for up to a year, this filler is thicker than hyaluronic acid fillers, requiring less product to create change and is ideal for those hard to treat deep lines around the nose, mouth and backs of hands. Restylane Vital (a more liquid version of Restylane) is being used in innovative ways such as a vacuum-powered device. Romanowska explains: “Very precise placement of minute quantities can be injected superficially into skin. Because of its hydrophilic (water-absorbing) qualities improving hydration, this works like an internal moisturiser.”
Better known to many as Botox or Dysport, these muscle relaxants are famous for smoothing wrinkles anywhere on the face including between the eyebrows (known as frown lines), under the eyes and around the mouth. Administered using a super fine needle, these solutions are injected into the muscle to block the nerve signals that make the muscle tighten, which is what causes skin to crease and wrinkle. Administered every three to six months, lines become smoother and less visible.
Doctor Catherine Stone from Auckland’s The Face Place says advanced techniques such as lifting the brow, widening the eyes, softening the lines around the mouth and reducing a ‘gummy’ smile make the face look happier and more youthful. She adds that Botox can also be used to treat myriad health concerns including sweating, tension headaches and migraines, minor forms of facial spasm and grinding or clenching of the teeth. When asked what age to consider Botox, Stone says it’s definitely younger. “As a preventive treatment we call it ‘baby Botox’ for women in their 20s and 30s. Some people develop lines at a very young age.”
Stone says a study last year showed that Botox in the frown of people suffering from depression resulted in a 27.3 per cent remission rate over a six-week period. “Botox is consistently being shown to have a positive effect not only on how people look, but also how good they feel.”
Expect to pay from $400.
PLATELET-RICH PLASMA (PRP)
Known in celebrity circles as the Vampire Facelift, PRP uses a combination of dermal filler and the plasma from your own blood. “This treatment uses the healing contents of your own blood to rejuvenate and create luminous-looking skin. PRP also helps by re-plumping the fat pads of the face that shrink as we age,” says Stone. The latest PRP known as Cellular Matrix contains HA (hyaluronic acid). “The addition of HA provides hydration and support for the platelets to help them last longer and produce more growth factors.
It’s a new and exciting way to give a subtle yet effective non-surgical facelift.” Romanowska is a fan of PRP and has been performing this treatment for seven years. She says, for women searching for a natural anti-ageing option, this is a good choice. “The plasma offers significant advantages in being the patient’s own blood. There is no risk of reaction and it will never ‘overdo’ or ‘over-fill’ areas of the face, only restoring what is appropriate. It does not add volume, but improves the skin’s texture and can be used anywhere including the face, eyes, neck, décolletage, arms, backs of hands and legs. It is also being widely used for ligament, tendon, muscle and joint injuries to stimulate healing.” The actual treatment does involve a needle. Once your blood is drawn, it is then spun in a centrifuge and the plasma, along with HA, is injected back into the skin so that your body can start the rejuvenation process.
Expect to pay from $1,000 per treatment.
KEEPING IT REAL
The outcome of these youth boosting treatments can be very satisfying and very addictive. But Romanowska says it’s best to approach appearance medicine with realistic expectations. “No matter how much filler you have, nothing will make you look like you did when you were 20 years old,” she says. These treatments may help correct signs of ageing but none can stop the ageing process entirely. With this in mind, it’s important to listen to your doctor’s advice and seek the services of a skilled practitioner, and follow the less is best approach for natural-looking results.
One of the game changing treatments for improving the tone of skin is dermal needling. Depending on the length of the needles and how often you have the treatment, plastic surgeon and creator of Environ skincare Dr Des Fernandes says dermal needling is a great way improve the look of ageing skin. Fernandes has developed the next generation of skin needling using tattoo needles.
Dermal needling, or collagen induction therapy, works by making tiny pinpricks in the skin causing skin cells to make new growth factors; collagen and elastin, the foundation of smoother, firmer and more radiant skin. “Needles for treating wrinkles and acne scars generally measure one millimetre in length,” says Dr Fernandes. His new technique uses a tattoo-artist’s gun with four or five needles in a straight row that can treat smaller areas such as around the mouth and under the eyes, and over scarring.
Fernandes says pain is minimised, and so is post-treatment downtime. The technique is even gentle enough to be used around the eye area. “Over the age of 35, the thickness of skin is starting to change. By pre-emptive treatments like needling and using skincare early enough, you can go into your 50s and 60s having remarkable-looking skin,” says Dr Fernandes. The number of sessions required depends on the individual’s concern. For acne scarring, three to four treatments will see results, for deeper scars and stretch marks you may need to consider up to five treatments. For best results he recommends six treatments over six months.
Expect to pay from $230.
From the editors of Simply You: Body & Beauty