Rachel Naud, For Canwest News Service
Every year, millions of people dissatisfied with some aspect of their appearance are undergoing non-surgical cosmetic procedures.
According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, almost 10 million cosmetic surgical and non-surgical procedures were performed in the United States alone in 2009. Of those, non-surgical procedures made up 85 per cent of the total and increased by almost one per cent from the year before. The top five non-surgical cosmetic procedures in 2009 were: BOTOX COSMETIC® injection (2,557,068 procedures); hyaluronic acid (1,313,038 procedures); laser hair removal (1,280,031 procedures); microdermabrasion (621,943 procedures) and chemical peels (529,285 procedures). (No Canadian figures were available.)
And there are many more choices for cosmetic rejuvenation without surgery beyond the top five. Dr. Earl Minuk, dermatologist at his SkinClinic and Laser Centre in Winnipeg, says Thermage, for example, helps improve skin tone, texture and tightness in one treatment. Thermage uses radio-frequency technology to safely heat the deep layers of the skin. This deep heating is said to stimulate the body’s natural skin renewal process and result in a more youthful appearance. Minuk says the ideal candidate is someone between 35 years of age and the mid-50s who still has a fair amount of elasticity in their skin.
“It’s not a facelift, although it can tighten the face and neck,” says Minuk. “It’s good for people who aren’t ready for a facelift or don’t want a facelift.”
BOTOX COSMETIC® and other injectables, such as Restylane and Juvederm, continue to be popular, he says. BOTOX COSMETIC® causes the relaxation of muscles and prevents them from contracting. Many patients have it injected between their eyes to reduce and eliminate the ‘No. 11’ that can appear there because of fine lines and wrinkles.
“There are two things pushing the non-surgical procedure market Ñ females and BOTOX COSMETIC®,” says Minuk. “It has become almost like an entry-level treatment for people who are still anxious about coming in for a full treatment.”
Fillers such as Restylane, Juvederm and Voluma are used to replace volume where it has been lost Ñ most frequently around the smile lines, cheeks, lips and eyes. Soft Lift, meanwhile, is a new treatment intended to smooth deep wrinkles and fine lines, restore lost fullness and enhance facial contours. “People who get Soft Lift look fabulous,” says Minuk. “ It’ll blow your mind when you see it. It looks like they had a facelift. It can take a 65-year-old and make her look 50, if you use enough product.”
Facial peels are another popular non-surgical procedure that rejuvenates skin and corrects problem pigmentation and acne scars. There are three main varieties of facial peel Ñ superficial, medium and deep chemical peels.
Dr. Vince Bertucci, a dermatologist and medical director at Bertucci MedSpa in Toronto, says superficial or light peels are usually performed using alpha hydroxy acids and are procedures many people do as part of their regular facial regime. Alpha hydroxy acids have proven effective in treating dry skin, acne, liver spots or sun spots, lessening fine facial wrinkles, decreasing pore size and improving skin texture. This type of peel leaves the skin with a red glow that only lasts a day or so.
“They give you a nice glow,” says Bertucci. “People get them every month or every second month to help keep skin looking healthy, smooth and vibrant.”
Medium peels, usually performed with trichloroacetic acid, have the same benefits as light peels but also remove larger wrinkles and precancerous skin lesions because of deeper penetration.
The drawback is that a medium peel leaves you looking like you have a severe sunburn for one week.
“We tell those individuals that they’ll need some downtime and makeup,” says Bertucci. “You’ll look worse before you look better. But a realistic result is significant improvement in scarring, freckles, discoloration and crepey skin.”
Deep chemical or Baker’s Phenol Peels are not as common because they have a higher risk of complications, such as infection and permanent whitening of the skin. These procedures, which can smooth and bleach scars, involve chemicals such as acetone, phenol and trichloroacetic acid. These substances work by essentially burning the face and creating controlled injury to the skin. The skin is regenerated by the healing process that renews the skin’s surface, giving it a smoother, less wrinkled appearance.
The healing period after this peel is about two weeks but the skin can remain pink for months.
“You’re really going to look like you took your face and scraped it on the concrete,” says Bertucci. “Your skin is going to be very raw.”