Dr. Lisa Kellett, a dermatologist in Toronto, credits the recent boom in quick, non-invasive mini-facelifts, wrinkle erasers and waistline-trimming procedures-- the so-called "lunchtime plastic surgeries" -- to advances in technology. According to a survey by Medicard Finance, the number of patients having non-surgical facelift procedures in 2003 grew by 325 percent from the previous year, while injectable fillers were up 23 percent and liposuctions increased by 16 percent. (Medicard Finance is a Canadian credit card company that finances elective medical procedures.)
"We live in a here-and-now society," says Kellett, whose clinic, DLK On Avenue, saw the longest lunchtime lineups last year for injectable lip and wrinkle fillers. "All of our patients want an alternative to the knife-and-stitch approach, and they want immediate and measurable results." Choosing the safest and most effective options from the array of face and body innovations available is still the biggest challenge.
(LIFESTYLE LIFT, CONTROUR THREADS, THREAD LIFT) Designed for the desperate housewife on a budget, these one-hour in-office microsurgeries involve strategically placed surgical threads administered under local anaesthetic. The Lifestyle Lift firms the lower face and neck area by inserting tiny, permanent sutures beneath the skin to lift and tighten sagging muscles. With Contour Threads -- intended for specific problem areas -- a surgeon smooths out a droopy brow, cheek or jowl by passing a needle and barbed thread under the loose skin in question and tugging it back into place. "The results are natural-looking yet instantaneous," says Dr. David Kent, a plastic surgeon in Detroit who is one of a number of doctors behind the widely marketed Lifestyle Lift.
Cost Lifestyle Lift, $5,000; Contour Threads, $450 per thread.
Maintenance The Lifestyle Lift lasts five to 10 years. Contour Threads last three to five years.
Downtime Other than minor swelling and bruising, both procedures promise a few days' recovery using an ice pack.
Drawbacks The Lifestyle Lift provides the most dramatic results on women over 40. Contour Threads can be performed on younger women but won't last as long as the Lifestyle Lift or a traditional facelift.
(RESTYLANE, SCULPTRA, FAMIs, RADIESSE, EVOLENCE) These wrinkle fillers are a quick and relatively pain-free way to erase some signs of aging by filling out the cheeks, lips and even the nose. Restylane, made of absorbable hyaluronic acid and often enlisted to fight deep smile lines, is also the filler of choice for "lunchtime nose jobs." In this case, a series of Restylane injections in and around the nose subtly reshape nasal profiles. Sculptra, a collagen-growth stimulator that is used to restore facial fat loss in those with HIV, can also revive aging skin on the face and neck. Facial autograph muscle injections (FAMIs), or fat injections, recycle the patient's own fat cells -- sometimes from previous liposuction surgery -- to create a princess pout, fill out the eye area or minimize smile lines.
"The advantage of fat is that it's your own tissue; it won't be rejected by your body, and it's less likely to cause reactions," explains Dr. Philip Solomon, a facial and cosmetic surgeon in Toronto. People with sensitive skin -- or those who want to experiment with a temporary, more natural solution to taming deep-set wrinkles -- may want to opt for Radiesse, a calcium derivative, or Evolence, made of pig collagen.
Cost Restylane nose jobs, $800 to $1,250; Sculptra, $850 to $1,150; FAMIs, $1,500 to $6,000; Radiesse, $600 to $1,200; Evolence, $400 to $500.
Maintenance Restylane may last from six months to one year. Sculptra lasts two years. FAMIs last five years. Radiesse lasts one or two years. Evolence lasts one year.
Downtime There is minimal downtime with most injectables. Patients can return to work afterwards with little to no bruising, redness or swelling.
Drawbacks Restylane nose jobs are not recommended for women with prominent profiles. Sculptra injections can cause skin reactions. FAMIs on thin-skinned women can cause a lumpy appearance. Radiesse and Evolence require more-frequent treatments, and those with allergies to collagen may experience an allergic reaction to Evolence.
(COLBATION, MICRODERMABRASION) Because they impart subtle benefits and require repeat visits, these skin-regenerating treatments cater more to overworked, jet-setting runway models than aging matrons. Originally used to remove diseased knee cartilage, coblation relies on radio-frequency energy to disintegrate skin layer by layer, thus smoothing facial wrinkles and other imperfections. Micro-dermabrasion, or power peeling, involves finely sanding and gently removing skin layers with a wire brush to reveal a more youthful glow.
Cost Coblation, $3,300 to $6,000; micro-dermabrasion, $225 per treatment.
Maintenance Most procedures last several months to one year. Micro-dermabrasion requires from six to eight treatments.
Downtime Micro-dermabrasion can cause prolonged sunburnlike effects, while coblation is usually gentler and has fewer side effects.
Drawbacks While coblation treatments are considered low risk, micro-dermabrasion may occasionally deepen scars and cause bleeding in some cases.
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