The fountain of youth
Cosmetic procedures that may help fight against aging.
Possibly, just as long as it doesn’t cost too much. Right now, consumers may be conflicted about cosmetic procedures, according to national trend-watchers.
Case in point: Of working women who responded to a recent survey by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, 73 percent believe “particularly in these challenging economic times, appearance and youthful looks play a part in getting hired, getting a promotion or getting new clients.” Of those surveyed, 13 percent say they would consider having a procedure to make them more competitive.
Yet another professional source, the Consumer Guide to Plastic Surgery, opines that the recession may cause consumers to re-evaluate just how much cosmetic surgery they will pay for, perhaps choosing less-invasive procedures, such as injectables or fillers.
Tulsa-area cosmetic surgeons and cosmetic dentists interviewed for this article say the current recession has not affected their patients’ reasons for treatment. Most just want to feel better about themselves.
If you have been considering some dermal or dental enhancements — whether for personal or professional reasons — following are a few of the less invasive, less time-consuming procedures these medical professionals have seen grow in popularity.
Mini- and micro-lifts There’s no question — regardless of economic conditions — that micro- and mini-procedures have become more popular in the last few years, especially with younger patients, “who don’t want to wait as long for their procedures as past generations,” says Dr. Jeff Swetnam, of Face & Body Medical Aesthetics.
“As cosmetic surgeons, we are seeing more women in their 30s and 40s seeking preventative maintenance to delay the aging process more gradually,” he says.
Previous generations often waited longer, requiring more major and “consequently, in some instances, obvious procedures,” he says.
A mini-face-lift, or so-called weekend lift, requires a smaller incision but lasts the same amount of time as a full face-lift, Swetnam says.
“I like to compare it to daylight savings time,” he says. “You set the clock back an hour, but the aging process continues, although you will always look an hour younger.”
Liposculpture It’s not just the face that’s getting a lift. Dr. William Shuler, of LOOKS, focuses on helping patients improve the appearance of “trouble areas,” such as the abdomen or hips. He performs minimally invasive liposculpturing and VASER LipoSelection procedures that use tiny incisions and ultrasound to break up fat before it is removed, he explains.
Dot Therapy Several other new procedures have come onto the market in the last few years.
“Some are efficacious; some are not,” Swetnam says.
One technology he has found effective for fine lines, wrinkles and sun damage is Dot Therapy, an updated CO2 laser technique that reduces the patient’s recovery time, and allows him or her to return to daily activities more quickly.
Liquid face-lift For the person who isn’t ready for surgery, dermal fillers and Botox are used “to basically restructure the cheekbones, naso-labial folds and marionette lines, as well as open the eyes and soften crow’s feet,” Swetnam says.
Dermal fillers last 12 to 18 months. Most patients opt to have Botox two to three times a year.
Smile makeover Laugh lines or not, two local dentists say many of their patients opt to improve their appearance by enhancing the appearance of their teeth. Depending on the person’s needs, a makeover might range from implants for missing teeth to porcelain veneers that cover gaps, crowding, broken teeth and discoloration.
Dr. Mark Davis provides patients with a preview of their potential new teeth with a digital smile maker, which can provide patients with an image in 15 minutes.
Davis finds that boomers and women over 40 are the most likely candidates for a smile makeover, but “I have a patient almost 65 who always wanted a brilliant, white smile,” he says.
Fellow dentist Dr. Bert Johnson also uses digital photographs to help patients in their decision-making, using in-house computer software to change the mouth’s appearance. He then shows it to the patient on a larger monitor. He has completed makeovers on adolescents to adults. And he finds the definition of cosmetic dentistry to be fairly broad. While the dentist may be looking at the smile area, a patient may be fixated on a back-of-the-mouth molar, he says.
Porcelain veneers Today, most of Johnson’s patients don’t settle for old-style fillings; they request tooth-colored material. But porcelain veneers are “the big thing” at his office.
Generally, veneers cover only the teeth that show when a person smiles, a minimum of six to eight teeth, but may vary depending on the patient. In the Tulsa market, porcelain veneers run $800 to $1,200 per tooth and last five to 20 years, Johnson says.
Bleaching Although lasting only three to four months, bleaching also continues to be popular, Johnson says.
“Bleaching is tremendous,” he says. “Just about every dentist will do it. And some over-the-counter (treatments) work. It’s so simple, causes no harmful effects and you can do it at home with very little supervision.”
What you may be facing
Here are a few of the trends you may see in the next months as predicted by the editors of the Consumers Guides to Cosmetic Surgery and Dentistry.
Less is more in 2009. The economic recession will spur many consumers to re-evaluate their cosmetic surgery plans. More people may choose less-invasive procedures such as injectables and fillers.
Doctors may cut prices. This will occur both on surgical procedures as well as injectables to help attract new patients. But buyer beware: The worst thing you can do is put price before professional training, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons warns.
Freezing away fat. Fat freezing (or cryolipolysis) may give liposuction a run for its money in the coming years. This technology works by freezing fat cells and in turn breaking them down. It’s in clinical trials now, and results look promising. Stay tuned.
The latest dream cream. There is much buzz about a topical version of the wrinkle relaxer Botox. Topical Botox may be potent enough to penetrate the skin and affect the muscles, without the pain of multiple injections. Sound too good to be true? Maybe, but so far the cosmetic surgery community is enthusiastic.
Eyelash lengthening. An FDA advisory panel has recommended approving Latisse, a drug that may promote longer, thicker, darker eyelashes. The drug is a spin-off of the glaucoma drug Lumigan, which has been shown to cause eyelash growth. Latisse will likely be the first eyelash-lengthening drug to gain FDA approval.
A new version of Botox. Reloxin is an injectable form of botulinum toxin Type A. Like Botox Cosmetic, small doses of the toxin are injected into targeted wrinkle-causing muscles, preventing the muscle from contracting and reducing the wrinkle’s appearance. Reloxin has similar properties and lasts about as long as Botox Cosmetic, anywhere from four to six months. It should be available this year.
Lipodissolve study. Lipodissolve, an experimental “fat-melting” technology, is being billed as a non-surgical alternative to liposuction. Also called mesotherapy, lipodissolve involves a series of medicated injections that may melt away unwanted small, localized areas of fat. To test these claims once and for all, the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery has begun a scientific study of mesotherapy. Some results may be available in 2009. Stronger warnings on dermal fillers. An advisory arm of the FDA has called for stronger, more specific warnings on dermal fillers. If the FDA follows the advice of this panel, expect some revisions to labels in 2009, including a timeline for potential side effects, as some adverse events can show up months after the injection.
More convenient appointments. The economy may cause some people to cancel or postpone regular appointments with their dentist, making it easier for you to find a convenient time slot for your own dental appointments. Whether it’s to see the dentist for a routine checkup or for an overdue dental cleaning, you’ll probably be able to get in when you want without much fuss.
Phased treatment. Many dentists will likely offer people who need major dental work the option of having it completed over a longer period of time (called phased treatment).
New options for denture wearers. Dentures will continue to replace missing teeth. But look for modern materials to make denture teeth look more natural than ever. Also look for more affordable, less-invasive implant procedures, such as mini-implants that can be placed in an hour and used immediately with dentures. Both will bring greater confidence and comfort to many denture wearers.
Faster, more convenient crowns and other restorations. Chairside CAD/CAM technology that lets dentists make crowns and other restorations at the same time as your regular office visit will eliminate the need for repeat appointments and wearing unpredictable temporaries. Your treatment will take less time, look great and last as long as many conventional treatments.
High-tech disease prevention and detection. High-tech devices and pharmaceuticals, including the increased use of lasers, will be used to detect cavities, and fluoride varnishes will help prevent decay. Also, risk-assessment tools will help determine your likelihood of developing cavities, based on the amount of bacteria in your mouth.