New non-surgical or minimally-invasive procedures are the rage in plastic surgery, some of which are seriously effective technologies. The name of the game is innovation, considering a spike of new would-be patients who are not so interested in surgery but still want to rejuvenate some effects of aging.
Surgeons are constantly testing out these new technologies in order to determine which will actually deliver superior results to their patients. Our panel of experts discuss some of the latest devices, injectables, and treatment therapies, weighing in on whether each is a winner or a loser.
Fillers: Winners & Loser
Juvéderm Volbella®, a hyaluronic acid based filler, was specifically designed to both augment and treat lines around the lips. In the past, augmenting the lips was a tricky proposition. Many of the fillers were too thick and the end results were less than ideal. We’ve all seen the photos of women with “duck lips”.
Volbella, “so far, seems to be a winner,” says Dr. Ashley Gordon of Austin, TX. It works by combining different weights of hyaluronic acid, allowing the product to stay thin enough to deliver natural looking results to your lips while still being long-lasting. In general, the thinner the consistency of the filler, the faster it is going to fade. Since all of us desire the most bang for our buck, finding the balance between filler weight and longevity is a game changer.
Belotero Balance is another lighter weight filler that many surgeons use to treat fine lines on the forehead and around the mouth. For Dr. Gordon, it “doesn’t last very long in the lips, but I still like it in the tear trough.” Under eye hollows are another area, like the lips, where the consistency of the filler is of paramount importance.
Sculptra is a slightly different type of filler and is best used in the mid-face and cheek area. It works by stimulating collagen production in the injection sites to increase volume, addressing the underlying causes of facial aging as opposed to simply treating the results. When done appropriately, according to Dr. Mark Pinsky of Florida, “Sculptra is a winner.”
CoolSculpting and Thermi: Winners & Losers
CoolSculpting is a non-surgical technique to rid your body of excess fat with little to no downtime, completely non-invasive. Sound too good to be true? According to Dr. Pinsky, it’s a “total winner. [Our practice] doubled down and got a second machine. Works beautifully.”
Dr. Gordon is, “still a little bit old school”. She doesn’t have the CoolSculpting machine and is still a fan of SafeLipo, a newer, more nuanced liposuction procedure. While arguably able to do more, SafeLipo – and liposuction in general – is a surgical procedure that requires more of a time commitment as it has a longer recovery.
ThemiVa, on the other hand, “has really been a huge game changer in the practice. Definitely a winner,” for Dr. Gordon. While a newer group of procedures, vaginal rejuvenation is a hit and the results from procedures like ThermiVa are encouraging, to say the least. ThermiVa is a non-surgical treatment that uses radio frequency to gently heat up the tissues in the vaginal area in order to improve skin laxity and dryness, as well as helping with incontinence issues and even improving orgasm.
ThermiLift, another Thermi product that addresses skin laxity on the face, can either be a winner or a loser according to Dr. Pinsky. “You really have to manage expectations there,” he explains, noting it depends on the patient.
In terms of other skin tightening technologies, Ultherapy, a non-surgical procedure to lift and tighten the skin using ultrasound energy, is a loser in his book. Although it may work in some patients, it “hasn’t been defined well enough in who it’s going to work well on and who it isn’t”.
Thermage, which uses radio-frequency energy instead of ultrasound to strengthen collagen and improve skin laxity, is a loser for Dr. Gordon. Although she doesn’t have it, she’s heard enough negative complaints from her patients about it being really expensive, really painful, and really unpredictable; none of which make her want to run out and invest in this technology.
Winners & Loser Recap
So, here’s a recap of our experts recommendations:
- Volbella for the lips
- Belotero for the tear trough area
- Sculptra when used correctly
- ThermiLift for the right patient
When looking at results and recommendations, it’s important to remember that while new devices may not peak the interest of all surgeons, their underlying technologies are sound and will improve in time. Looking alone at the amount of new technologies available, modern patients have more options and can trust that surgeons are working everyday to improve the results and provide feedback to manufacturers on what works and what doesn’t.
The end result? A technologically-advancing field providing anti-aging and rejuvenation in more ways than ever before.