Non-surgical skin tightening has long been one of the holy grails of plastic surgery. Skin resurfacing, spot reduction, and even fat removal has found growing success with non-surgical modalities. Even so, not until very recently had any device given surgeons a chance to tighten the skin without using a scalpel.
Historically, the only way to combat sagging skin was with a surgical procedure like a facelift. Today, there are a number of non-surgical and/or minimally-invasive procedures to tighten up “loose” skin on the face and body showing great promise. Board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Kristi Hustak of Houston discusses why she’s very interested in the array of devices currently out to tighten the skin sans surgery.
Non-Surgical Skin Tightening is a Great Bridge
“I love non-surgical tightening. I think it’s a fabulous bridge procedure,” Dr. Hustak explains. As we age, our skin begins to loose its ability to “bounce back,” thanks largely to a drop in collagen production. There are things that can slow down this, process such as:
- no smoking
- a healthful diet full of fruits & vegetables
- consistent hydration
- proper skincare
Even with all of the above, the skin will inevitably droop as facial volume is lost. The advantage now is this situation doesn’t necessarily mean that you are ready for surgery. Non-surgical and/or minimally-invasive skin tightening procedures can act as a bridge between nothing and a facelift, or thigh lift. They occupy a middle zone to buy a patient time – maybe as much as 10-15 years – before he or she will need to resort to surgical intervention.
Are You a Candidate for Non-Surgical Skin Tightening?
The key to a successful experience with any non-surgical skin tightening modality is making certain that you are a good candidate; the procedures are not right for everyone. Patients must be in “[that] happy zone between skin elasticity that still has some rebounding to do versus super stretched,” shares Hustak. Patients also have to be realistic with expectations. No non-surgical or minimally-invasive procedure is going to deliver the same results as surgery, but that’s not their job. Using a non-surgical device to tighten the skin is a way to bridge patients in their middling years.
Does Non-Surgical Skin Tightening Really Work?
There are so many non-surgical skin tightening devices on the market today that it can be confusing for both the patient and the plastic surgeon to figure out which ones work. “The reality is that most of them work,” explains Dr. Hustak, as long as the patient has realistic expectations and the device is used appropriately.
This is also a difference between non-invasive and minimally-invasive skin tightening techniques. The non-invasive ones work on top of the skin only, while the minimally-invasive devices work deeper. One such device, BodyTite (and its counterpart, FaceTite), is so-called minimally-invasive because a metal probe is inserted through a small hole in the skin. Due to the interaction of energy between the probe beneath the skin and a second probe outside the body right against the skin, the right amount can be delivered to the right spots. The outcomes with BodyTite are some of the best that non-surgical skin tightening has yet offered, exciting plastic surgeons like Dr. Hustak.
Do You Need a Plastic Surgeon for Non-Surgical Skin Tightening?
For Dr. Hustak, if the procedure is minimally-invasive – meaning that it requires an incision – she likes to perform those herself. “I think I have better control and can target exactly where I want it to go.” If it is a straight forward non-surgical skin tightening procedure, like a laser where you rub the device on the outside of the body, this can be safely performed by trained staff. The key to these procedures is certainly the actual procedure, but planning with an experienced plastic surgery is just as important.
If patients seek out the best, even if they’re “only” seeking out a non-surgical procedure, then they will find the right plan that will make the most of these devices for their unique needs. Many may try and sell non-surgical devices as a quick pick me up that anyone can perform. The truth is, they are still very much tools of aesthetic surgeons, and tools need the proper plan and setting to do what they’ve been designed to do. For the non-surgical tools aimed at tightening the skin, significant progress seems to be right on the doorstep.