The Surgeon Minute

Combat Facial Aging Without Surgery

Combat Facial Aging Without Surgery

There are few certainties in life; facial aging is definitely one of them. As the years march on, our stomachs get bigger and our faces get leaner. Those apple cheeks that used to glow with youthful vigor deflate with time, leaving a sometimes gaunt appearance, or the more readily-understood “tired” look. Furthermore, our skin loses elasticity and the texture and color changes, especially if you spent a lot of time in the sun.

Board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Brooke Seckel of Boston, MA discusses the three main components of facial aging and what can be done, non-surgically, to rejuvenate the face.

3 Components of Facial Aging

If you have looked in the mirror lately and thought your face is finally becoming “old”, there are probably a number of different things going. The following are the three major components of facial aging:

  • loss of volume, particularly in the mid-face/cheeks
  • skin aging changes such as wrinkles, brown spots, and red spots
  • loose skin, often in the jowls and the neck

Ironically, as we age, we tend to gain fat in the stomach while we lose fat in the face. This loss of volume in the face is like “letting air out of a balloon,” says Dr. Seckel. The skin on the face drops off the cheeks, and you lose those apple cheeks of youth. The face goes from a nice oval shape, which is a shape that is associated with youth, to a more square shape.

An aged face is square because as the volume disappears, there is nothing to hold up the skin and soft tissues so they drop down to the jawline. All of a sudden, there are jowls where there didn’t used to be anything and this can radically change the shape of your face.

Non-Surgical Treatments for Volume Loss

Although you can’t stop your face from aging, you can slow it. The biggest area of growth in the last 10 years in plastic surgery has been in the realm of non-surgical facial rejuvenation. Innovation is the name of the game and surgeons are constantly coming up with new products and procedures to combat facial aging that do not involve going under the knife.

Volume loss from facial aging.

One of the biggest areas of growth is in dermal fillers which are the best way to counteract the loss of facial volume. Juvéderm has created a entire line of fillers of different weights and/or thicknesses so that there is one for every area of the face:

  • Voluma for the mid-face/cheeks
  • Vollure for the nasolabial folds
  • Volbella for the lips

Replacing the lost fat in the cheeks with filler, in almost a Nike swoop, allows the surgeon to bring back the apple cheeks of youth while also lifting the skin a bit. The result is a more youthful looking contour.

Lasers & Botox for Wrinkles

To correct surface changes such as frown lines and crow’s feet, which are what surgeons call “dynamic wrinkles”, Dr. Seckel uses Botox. It freezes the underlying muscle in the treatment area, disallowing wrinkles to be as pronounced when the face animates. For pigmentary changes like brown spots and red spots, results from sun damage, there is IPL often referred to as a photo facial. It’s a laser that does “a remarkable job of removing brown spots, red spots… and can even cure rosacea,” says Dr. Seckel.

While dynamic wrinkles, which happen when you frown, smile or wince, respond to Botox, static wrinkles – permanent indentations on the skin – respond best to laser resurfacing. The most effective is a combination of four non-ablative laser treatments, spaced a month apart,  followed by four ablative laser treatments.

Facial aging laser treatments.

Non-ablative lasers don’t remove any skin so there is no need for downtime. The laser tip has a cooling mechanism so that the hot laser can penetrate deep into the skin to stimulate collagen. Patients will see about a 30-40% improvement. Ablative laser resurfacing is basically a controlled burn that removes skin. It delivers a more dramatic result, but it also means that your skin will be really red and puffy for about 7-10 days.

Seeing More Men

Another big change that Dr. Seckel has seen in his many years in practice is more men, starting in the early 2000’s. While the split is not 50/50 quite yet, about 30% of his patients are now men. In his opinion, the reason for the shift is a cultural change. Cultural gender distinctions are now less important. “It’s ok for a man to be concerned about his appearance just like it’s ok for a mother to want to work,” says Seckel.

Male or female, young or old, there are actionable non-surgical modalities to tackle facial aging. Trust in a board certified plastic surgeon who will take your unique scenario and apply the correct tools for you, not just the latest marketing trends..

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