Looking Younger without Surgery

Nobody enjoys the process of growing old, and it is especially distressful when external factors such as sun, pollution, stress, poor sleep habits and so forth cause premature aging of our skin. Fortunately science can lend a helping hand and erase or minimize the damage. From wrinkles, to lax skin, pigmentation and deepening lines, the signs of aging are thankfully very easily dealt with, even if you are hesitant to undergo surgery. If you're looking to improve the ravages of time on your complexion, here is a short list of some of the most popular non-surgical options available out there.

1. Botox
Botox is the most popular anti-aging treatment available, and for good reason. Just one session with your doctor will give you 6 - 9 months free of wrinkles and lines, and at about the same price as a set of branded anti-aging skin care products. It is quick, about as painful as a paper cut, and can make you look 5-10 years younger in a matter of days.
Botox has always suffered from a poor reputation as some people have had bad experiences, but in the hands of a trained professional, the results you get will amaze you. Some people are concerned about getting 'addicted' to Botox, but I find it comparable to a maintenance regime not unlike having a regular facial or haircut. Botox is also useful in the treatment of headaches, neck and back pain, muscle spasms and bladder disorders, which is always helpful when age starts to create more physical concerns in areas other than the face.

2. Fillers
Fillers and botox are almost like husband and wife; they complement each other and work together to create a harmonious effect. Botox works to relax muscles and smooth out wrinkles while fillers work by volumizing deep facial furrows such as the naso-labial folds and deep glabellar lines (frown lines). Fillers are also effective in increasing the fat pads on the cheeks and the sides of the forehead, to reverse the effects of gravity. Fillers can also be used to reduce lines around the lips, volumize the lips, plump up sunken under-eye areas, and have been used to replace lost fatty deposits in areas such as the breast and buttocks. There are too many filler brands to count, such as Radiesse, Juvederm, Restylane, Esthelis, Macrolane and many more. Different fillers are indicated for different uses, but in general are all very successful at volumizing lines, wrinkles and sunken areas. Sculptra is one that is especially designed for long-term re-volumizing, and helps to boost collagen production as well as fill in sunken areas.

3. Skin Tightening & Lifting Therapies
Skin tightening and lifting is important as gravity and collagen loss create the sunken areas and deep lines that are seen on aging faces. While a face-lift will always provide the most dramatic results, a range of non-surgical therapies such as Thermage, Ultherapy and Exilis are available.
Thermage burst onto the scene about 6 years ago with its promise of non-surgical, non-invasive skin tightening, with a single treatment, no less. Since then, Thermage has become a brand icon, and it has expanded its range from lifting skin on the face, neck and eyes to upper-arms, hands, abdomens, buttocks and thighs.
Thermage works by using radiofrequency waves to heat up the collagen in the skin and produce a rejuvenating, tightening effect. Results are not immediate, but the treatment gives a progressive uplifting effect as the collagen remodels over the next few months. Some patients report an improvement in their facial wrinkling and overall condition of the complexion as a pleasant side effect of the treatment.
Exilis is another therapy that utilizes radiofrequency (RF) to target collagen deposits and boost their production. Commonly used in the facial, neck, decolletage, abdomen, thighs and buttock areas, Exilis is also effective in spot fat reduction. A typical course is 4-6 sessions, and is a quick and painless way to more youthful, tighter skin.
Ultherapy uses ultrasound waves to similarly heat up and remodel collagen, helping to tighten brow lines, smoothen skin on the cheeks, lift sagging eyelids and refresh the overall look of the face, results which are visible from the second or third treatment.
While these skin tightening therapies are not indicated for the elderly where collagen is very minimal, or for those who are severely saggy due to extreme age or weight loss, they can restore youthful tone and give a refreshing uplift for those who are just starting to notice the ill-effects of aging and poor skin care.

4. Fractional Laser Resurfacing
Laser resurfacing modules work by damaging the top most layers of the skin to remove fine wrinkles, pigmentation and scars. Fractional laser resurfacing means that instead of treating all of the skin surface at once, only a fraction of the surface is treated, so pain is manageable and healing is faster. Examples of these treatments are Fraxel, Pixel, ProFractional and Mosaic, which all work in the same way to remove the top-most problematic layer, and allows the growth of younger, healthier skin in its place. A further benefit of this treatment is that skin texture and tone will also improve.

Fraxel - Before and After

5. Platelet Rich Plasma
Plaetelet Rich Plasma therapy involves the use of a patient's own blood, from which platelets are extracted and re-injected into facial areas to boost collagen production. Generally, treated areas include the cheeks, peri-ocular (around the eyes), neck, decolletage, jaw line and back of hands. Results include improved skin texture, tone and overall appearance. Platelet-rich plasma is an established medical procedure which has been used in long-term pain management, joint healing and a proven record in facilitating healing.

5. Stem Cell Therapy
As stem cells are the body's own healing components, stem cell therapy has been hailed for its ability to improve the body's overall condition. Promised results include a better complexion, thicker hair, brighter eyes, improved memory and libido, greater energy and stamina and a better general well-being. There are various methods used in stem cell therapies, from stem cells extracted from a patient's own fat or bone marrow, or in some procedures, using stem cells collected from human or even animal embryos.
While scientific evidence is still contentious as to the true value of such treatments, many are convinced of their anti-aging and medicinal value. This article on USAToday.com highlights just one such satisfied customer, a baseball player who amazed his fans with his brilliant sporting performance after undergoing stem cell therapy.

- CosMed, MD
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