Facing The New Year, Beautifully


There’s not much one can do to stop or slow down time, but can one reverse or slow down the aging clock? Whatever the answer, there are ways to look younger, or at least to look as good as one feels for a much longer time.

Traditionally, one went under the knife to turn back the clock, but now new technology is available that avoids the surgical facelift, which can involve months of bruising, swelling and pain.

The nonsurgical facelift combines fillers (collagen or hyaluronic acid, both FDA approved) and injections (Botox, also FDA approved) to targeted areas of the face. Wrinkles and lines are smoothed out. Swelling and bruising are nonexistent and it takes about twenty minutes to one hour to administer.

All are in-office procedures, and cost a fraction of a surgical facelift. One can return to their normal activities the same day after the procedure.

The Injections

Botox is a one-time brow injection that relaxes the muscles of the forehead, (frown lines) brows and eyes (crows feet). It made from a protein and small quantities are targeted to specific muscles, taking about twenty minutes. Dr. Martin Alpert in Santa Monica says the treatment lasts from three to six months at a cost of $200. Follow ups are recommended. Temporary side effects might include a headache after injection, drooping of the eyelid or eyebrow.

For a treatment that will last six months to a year, Dr. Alexander Rivkin, director of the Westside Medical Spa, recommends Restylane, a cosmetic dermal filler consisting of hyaluronic acid, which occurs naturally in the body. It is used to add volume and fullness to the skin. Rivkin says it is effective on lines and folds from the nose to the corners of the mouth, lips and under-eye area. Temporary side effects may include redness, bruising, swelling, tenderness and moderate pain. The one-time procedure takes thirty minutes and costs $500.

Radiance is a longer-lasting treatment that fills in lines, renews fullness to lips and restores the natural contours of the face. It is a synthetic compound, identical to the chemical structure of calcium naturally present in the human body, according to its manufacturers. It feels soft and natural and needs no touch-ups like temporary treatments. Side effects may include lumpiness in the lips, according to Radiance manufacturers, but can be medically managed. (FDA approval for facial implant is impending. Doctors currently use Radiance off-label.) This is a one-time treatment, taking thirty minutes to administer, lasting up to two years at a cost of $1,200.

The Skin Tighteners

The new radiofrequency technology known as Thermage (sometimes known as shrink-wrapping of skin) heats the underlying collagen in the face, while keeping the outer layers of the skin cool, promoting collagen production and causing the skin to immediately contract, resulting in firmer, smoother skin. Dr. Jeffrey Rawnsley, head and neck, and plastic surgeon at UCLA Medical Center, says most people need just one two-hour treatment with results seen after a few months. Improvement will continue up to six months, and can last for more than several years. Temporary redness may occur after treatment, and in rare cases, skin damage. The cost is approximately $3,000.

Traditional cosmetic laser therapy requires anesthesia and peels the outer surface of the skin away. The New Fraxel laser treatment, which Rawnsley also performs, places microscopic-deep columns of treatments, called microthermal zones, in the skin, leaving some areas in the skin untouched and intact. This “fractional” treatment allows the skin to heal much faster than if the whole area were treated at once, and creates new, tighter tissue. Side effects are limited to some sunburn-like redness, which resolves in one to two days. After a few treatments, wrinkling, aging and sun damage are completely repaired. The cost is $1,500 per session.

Light Wave Treatment

Light Wave Treatment consists of using light emitting diodes (LED). A gentle wave of thousands of tiny lights at a specific wavelength modulating and flashing on the skin for forty seconds targets cell receptors, producing or increasing collagen. Veronica of Veronica’s Skin and Bodycare in Malibu says it can even out pigmentation, diminish lines and decrease the size of large pores with LED. A series of twenty-minute treatments, twice a week is recommended for four weeks at $150 per session.

Thread Lift

This unique procedure uses suture threads that are inserted into the skin and tightly pulled into the fascia (tissue above the bone) hidden in the hairline. The thread has little hooks anchored to where teeny holes are made through the skin. It has been practiced for several years in Japan, Asia and Europe. The procedure takes about an hour. Dr. Marie Courchesne-Ryan in the Pacific Palisades says that a thread lift will last according to the recipient’s rate of aging. Known side effects are the thread, which has yet to receive FDA approval, can sometimes be visible through the skin, and slight skin puckering. The prices are: $3,000 for the mid-face; $1,800 for forehead/eyebrows; and $6,000 for the neck where cogs are anchored behind the ears.

The Peels

Microdermabrasion is performed with a special machine that incorporates minute diamond chips which removes the outer layer of the skin. Veronica’s says the process reduces age spots, lines, wrinkles and acne scars. A onetime treatment takes fifteen to twenty minutes at $150, with immediate results. Alpert advocates the alpha hydroxyl chemical peel (an acid solution is swabbed onto the face) for deeper lines and it requires less time at the same price. Side effects of a chemical peel vary, but sun protection is a must afterward.