The Desire for Reinvention

TRANSFORMS01SPRING IS IN FULL SWING. AS NATURE TRANSFORMS ITSELF AND COMES INTO FULL BLOOM, SO OFTEN DOES THE DESIRE FOR PERSONAL REINVENTION

Accessible prices, technological advances, less-invasive procedures with no down time and a rebounding economy are making cosmetic procedures, surgical and nonsurgical, far more attractive. According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, last year Americans spent the largest amount on cosmetic procedures since the Great Recession. About 85 percent of the estimated $13 billion Americans spent on plastic surgery included nonsurgical procedures such as injectables and cosmetic fillers.

To get smoother, more youthful-looking skin without surgery, injectables and cosmetic fillers can improve fine lines and wrinkles around the eyes, forehead and lips. The most effective and safe use of these products requires a physician with a thorough understanding of facial anatomy.

Botox, a shot of botulinum toxin that paralyzes facial muscles to eliminate frown lines, is a mainstay of plastic surgery treatments. Results can last four to six months. A shot of collagen or its derivatives, such as Restylane or Perlane, can plump up cheeks or fill laugh lines. Results can last up to a year, depending on the product.

Chemical peels can improve the look of superficial scars, age spots and hyperpigmentation, as well as fine lines and wrinkles. The effects can be dramatic. Recovery may take a few days to a week.

For glowing skin, microdermabrasion sloughs off dead skin and with it fine lines from the face, neck, shoulders and cleavage. Downtime is minimal. A physician will determine how many treatments are necessary.

A treatment of Fraxel or laser toning can burn off sun damage and encourage collagen production. The treatment removes the outer layer of skin and heats the underlying skin to stimulate collagen growth and create smoother and firmer skin. Another option is a series of “photo facials,” blasts of a broad spectrum of light that dissolve spider veins and age spots.

In terms of nonsurgical treatments for fat removal, doctors and patients are anticipating the Food and Drug Administration’s approval this year of ATX-101, a facial injection that dissolves jowls — those annoying jiggles of chin fat. “Cold laser” contouring treatments are hot non-invasive treatments for fat removal elsewhere on the body.

Unlike liposuction, which involves surgically vacuuming fat, cold laser treatments require no invasive surgery, anesthesia or downtime. A low-level laser targets the offending layers of fat in the flanks, belly or hips, creating small pores in fat cells. Over time, fat seeps out of the cells and into the lymphatic system, where the body eliminates it.

Breast enhancement, neck lifts and tummy tucks are the most sought-after plastic surgery procedures in the U.S., according to the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. Jaw makeovers are also popular, and now include minimally invasive procedures like ultrasound therapy and fillers.

With all the treatments available, there’s no reason you too can’t bloom this spring.

BY KIM KACHMANN-GELTZ