Erasing Time’s Effects
Time marches on, and its influence on the body is rarely kind! Somehow, it always seems to be the problem areas that draw the most attention as years pass. Lines, wrinkles, fat and stubborn spots that give way to gravity are all concerns of the body- and health-conscious patient. Everyone experiences some level of change, even those in tip-top shape, so it’s good to know treatments are available to turn back the clock.
lasers for the face
Using laser treatments for facial lines, wrinkles and imperfections sounds pretty high-tech, but Carol Anderson, BCRN, BSN, CANS, of Nouveau MedSpa says the term ‘laser’ is sometimes used to describe procedures that technically don’t use one. Still, there are a number of options to improve skin on both ends of the spectrum, she says.
“We use a system called Sciton BBL (broadband light) for skin tightening and hair removal,” Anderson notes. “It may be thought of as a laser treatment, but it actually uses infrared heat and light, not a laser beam.” The system also can be used to treat broken capillaries, hyperpigmentation from sun damage, and common signs of aging like facial lines and wrinkles.
Anderson also uses Infini fractionated radiofrequency treatments to reduce lines and wrinkles. “It doesn’t produce as much trauma to the skin as older laser resurfacing procedures, and there’s not as much discomfort, or medical or social downtime,” she explains. The system causes minimal redness and swelling, whereas previous laser procedures could cause the skin to ‘weep’ and peel afterward, she says.
Dr. Joseph Muccini of MidAmerica Skin Health and Vitality Center says modern laser treatments can best be understood as “applied energy” that improves the look and texture of skin. “There are a number of fractionated laser treatments available these days,” he notes. “For example, we use two Pearl fractionated systems—one for superficial treatments and one that works deeper.” The ‘lighter’ system can help with surface discoloration in certain spots, and the deeper one can handle full-face treatments, Muccini notes.
He says when patients come to his office asking about facial laser procedures, he doesn’t want them to ask what he thinks they need. “Instead, I want to know what’s bothering the patient, and to what degree,” he says. “Those are the more significant questions. It’s important to find an experienced doctor who knows how to use the latest technology.”
Muccini adds, “Our office has five laser treatments that do very different things. The treatment plan we choose for each patient depends on a number of factors—age, skin condition, overall health, lifestyle and more.”
There was a time when women who were unhappy with their breast size or shape just had to accept what Mother Nature gave them. Today, however, there are a number of surgical options to help patients feel more attractive and confident about this sensitive area of the body.
Dr. Christina Plikaitis, a SLUCare plastic surgeon, says there are three main categories of cosmetic breast procedures: augmentation to increase size; lifts to correct sagging breasts and restore normal nipple position; and reduction for women with disproportionately large breasts that cause pain or discomfort. “Most of these are not covered by insurance, but reduction sometimes is,” she explains.
A good consultation with an experienced, board-certified plastic surgeon will help a patient understand the pros and cons of surgery and learn what procedure and implant size will work best for her body. For example, a C-cup on a small-framed woman can differ in volume than the same cup size on a larger or taller woman, Plikaitis says.
“There are lots of questions to ask and factors to consider,” she notes. “What is the patient’s goal for her appearance? Has she lost or gained weight recently? Have her breasts changed following pregnancy? Are they asymmetrical in size? Is there laxity in her skin?” Patients can use a special bra with sample implants to see what cup size will look best, and the surgeon even can use inflatable temporary implants during surgery to fine-tune the breasts’ appearance, Plikaitis says.
Modern breast implants usually are filled with either silicone or saline, says Dr. Marissa Tenenbaum, a Washington University plastic surgeon. “Silicone implants are cohesive, which means they are actually filled with solid silicone, not liquid,” she explains. “There are varying levels of cohesiveness, various sizes, and round and teardrop shapes. What we use all depends on the look the patient wants and the type of breast tissue she has.”
Tenenbaum says the patient can choose from a variety of options based on whether she prefers a more natural or dramatic result. “Implants can range from very soft and responsive, to more ‘form stable’ or firm,” she says. “We have a lot of choices, which is good news for the patient.”
For those concerned about extra body fat, Dr. Richard Moore of The Lifestyle Center says recent technologies are offering very favorable results. Some fat-reducing procedures are more involved than others, but the trend is toward those with minimum tissue trauma and recovery time.
Doctors have been practicing liposuction for years as a way of reducing body fat, but Moore says previous procedures carried the risk of nerve, blood vessel and tissue damage caused by the cannula or wand that moves under the skin to dislodge and suction out fat cells. “It could cause bruising, numbness and scar tissue under the skin,” he explains. “We’ve been using the newer Tickle Lipo system for about five years. Its wand causes much less trauma to surrounding tissues, making recovery easier. And it allows us to do more sculpting, such as enhancing the curve of the glutes.”
Moore’s office also offers BodyTite, a system that uses radiofrequency energy to destroy fat cells and tighten skin. “It can be combined with Tickle Lipo, and works well on areas such as the arms, abdomen and thighs where patients tend to have skin laxity,” he notes. A related technique, FaceTite, removes fat and tightens skin on the neck and face.
Moore says his practice soon will offer J-Plasma, a new system that uses helium gas and radiofrequency energy to tighten areas of the neck and body. “We’ll also be able to combine J-Plasma with Tickle Lipo,” he says. “It’s a very exciting new technique. We expect it to produce amazing results.”
Other less-invasive, fat-reducing procedures include Vanquish ME, which also uses radiofrequency energy to target fat cells. Moore uses the treatment in combination with the Venus Legacy body shaping system, another radiofrequency technology. “Basically, these treatments program the death of fat cells,” Moore notes. “We can use them to destroy about 30 percent of subcutaneous fat.” After a Vanquish ME treatment, he also can use a technique called Z Wave to smooth and firm the treated area and cause the fat to be processed out by the body’s lymphatic system.
“We find that we get very nice results with the fat-reducing treatments we use,” Moore says. “You’re not just deflating the area under the skin; the radiofrequency energy generates heat and helps the skin contract, so you destroy fat cells and tighten the skin at the same time.” And generally speaking, he says, these procedures don’t require significant downtime or lifestyle restrictions. “In fact, we encourage patients to stay physically active and work out, along with eating a healthy diet and staying hydrated.”