Health Features

Alternatives to a Face-lift

No one wants to look old or tired, but not everyone is willing to undergo a procedure with weeks of downtime to remedy wrinkles, sagging skin or lost volume. There are options to address individual areas—eyes, cheeks, brows, chin—beyond the more drastic face-lift. Depending on the severity of your problems, you just might get away with a less-invasive route.

eyes
“Eyes draw the attention of your viewer immediately,” says Dr. John Chi, facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon at Washington University School of Medicine. “When patients have signs of aging around their eyes, they don’t necessarily look older, but they look tired.” Facial appearance may be aged by sagging eyebrows, droopy upper eyelids or baggy lower eyelids, Chi says, adding that a patient might not have all three issues. The eyebrows can be corrected with Botox injections or a brow lift, and the other conditions with minor surgical procedures to remove excess skin. The transition between the lower eyelids and cheeks can be smoothed with injectable fillers. “If you have rejuvenation of the eye area, it can give you a refreshed, vibrant appearance without the downtime of a full facial procedure,” Chi notes.

platelet-rich plasma (prp)
Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is derived from the patient’s own blood and injected into sites where it can stimulate tissue growth to replace lost volume, says Carol Anderson, a certified aesthetic nurse specialist and owner of Nouveau MedSpa in Kirkwood. “When I use PRP on a patient’s face, I’m looking for those deep fat pads that have been diminished,” she says. “PRP stimulates growth factors to restructure the face and bring back natural volume at the site.” For some patients, she notes that using fillers in these areas would be inappropriate because the amount needed would alter their face. Might PRP replace a face-lift? “It would depend on the degrees of laxity and volume loss,” Anderson says. “If the person has significant loss, it may be difficult to correct all of it with PRP. ”

j-plasma
The latest high-tech alternative to a face-lift applies ionized gas to tighten and fill the skin. “J-Plasma is cold helium gas combined with a small amount of radiofrequency energy to create a new energy called plasma,” says Dr. Richard Moore, cosmetic surgeon and medical director of The Lifestyle Center in Ladue. “It heats and then instantly cools the tissue, vaporizing the skin’s surface. The energy also tightens and produces new collagen. It causes a fairly dramatic peel while it lifts and reshapes the face. It also improves the skin’s quality by removing pigment irregularities and deep, engrained wrinkles.” After the face is numb, the device is passed over the skin twice, once to address the surface and the second time to tighten the deeper tissue and reshape the face, Moore explains. “This nonsurgical facelift can turn back facial appearance by 10 years,” he says.

radio frequency technology
“Radiofrequency (RF) technology has proven to be a mainstay in anti-aging modalities,” says Mary McKaig, a registered nurse and skin care consultant at the Laser & Dermatologic Surgery Center in Chesterfield. “It safely heats the deep layers of your skin and stimulates new collagen production. We offer Thermage, which provides mild contouring of sagging skin, like in the jowl area and even the abdomen. Results can continue to improve for up to six months, and one treatment can last several years.” The surgery center also uses Sublative RF technology, McKaig says. “It’s great for acne scars and wrinkles,” she notes. “Newer RF treatments, such as Profound, use microneedles to send the energy even deeper into the skin. While these treatments are more invasive and have a longer recovery time,
they usually yield more impressive results with sagging and wrinkling.”

fillers
Fillers can greatly improve facial appearance, but they can’t replace a face-lift, says Dr. Joseph A. Muccini, a surgical dermatologist at MidAmerica Skin Health & Vitality Center in Chesterfield. “That’s comparing apples and oranges,” he says. “When someone decides to do a face-lift, they are looking at laxity in their neck or jowls. The procedure pulls the neck and usually includes other procedures in a single surgery.” Fillers can smooth lines and creases in the mid and lower face and replace some laxity resulting from bone loss along the jaw line, he notes. “If you want to put off
a face-lift, fillers would be one of many minimally invasive or noninvasive modalities that might push it off into the future,” he says. “But someone who really needs a face-lift is not going to be happy with fillers.”

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