Putting Your Best Face Forward Noninvasive Treatments in Skin Care

By Victoria Mullen

Licensed aesthetician Rachel Six of Jupiter Medical Aesthetics in Belmont, Mich. (Photo by Daniel E. Johnson)

Summer is in full swing and you know what that means: Sun and fun. Road trips. Excursions to the beach, yard sales and art fairs. Sailing, too.

We’re not telling you anything new when we say there’s a downside to sun and wind exposure – harsh wind and UV rays can damage your face. But even if you’re not a die hard sun worshipper, aging still has its undesirable effects: wrinkles, sagging skin and discoloration. We just can’t escape it – smiling, chewing, squinting and just plain old gravity all contribute to aging.

Women, take up your weapons

Sure, facelifts are easier than ever. But those who desire non-invasive solutions can take heart. Now there are several very effective, nonsurgical skin treatments that help eliminate or soften imperfections in facial skin.

Age does not define candidates for facial rejuvenation. Women and men of various ages choose nonsurgical procedures to delay or improve visible indications of facial aging. According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, in 2010 the top five nonsurgical cosmetic procedures in the United States for both men and women were Botulinum Toxin Type A (aka Botox®); hyaluronic acid (including Juvéderm®, Restylane®, and Radiesse®); laser hair removal; laser skin resurfacing; and chemical peels. People between the ages of 35 and 50 had the most procedures.

What’s hot in West Michigan

“The most common nonsurgical procedures among women between the ages of 40 and 54 that we are seeing are Botox and Microdermabrasion,” says Rachel Six, licensed aesthetician and director of marketing at Jupiter Medical Aesthetics, 6290 Jupiter Ave., Suite D, Belmont, Mich. Six says that most women in this age group are good candidates for these procedures, which help diminish the appearance of aging and yield a smoother, more refreshed appearance.

Botox, the cosmetic form of botulinum toxin, relaxes the dynamic facial muscles that can make you look older. It temporarily reduces or eliminates forehead creases, crow’s feet near the eyes, frown lines, and thick bands in the neck. It works by blocking nerve impulses and temporarily relaxing the muscles that cause wrinkles.

The procedure takes about 30 minutes and is performed in the office by a physician or trained registered nurse. There is no downtime – you can return to work after the procedure. The results are temporary, and treatments may be repeated every four to six months. Most common side effects include nausea and temporary eyelid droop. You may experience temporary bruising as well.

Microdermabrasion utilizes one of two techniques: The first technique involves a handheld device that streams tiny crystals across the skin while an attached vacuum simultaneously suctions the exfoliating crystals back into the machine, along with the dead skin. The newer technique uses a diamond-tip wand that is gently moved across the skin to exfoliate.

Microdermabrasion makes the skin smooth, stimulates collagen and elastin production (both of which give support and structure to the skin), and over time can help reduce the appearance of sunspots. It targets fine lines, crow’s feet, age spots and acne scars. The in-office procedure takes from 30 minutes to one hour, and several sessions at two- to three-week intervals are needed. Results are temporary and there is no downtime. You may experience mild discomfort, redness and swelling which lasts only a few hours. Your skin will be flaky and dry for several days. Other risks include bruising and sensitivity to sun exposure, so using sunscreen is a must.

Juvéderm is an injectable filler used to soften deep folds and reduce facial wrinkles. The active ingredient is hyaluronic acid (HA), a substance that is normally found in skin, muscles and tendons. As we age, our bodies slow down the production of HA, resulting in facial folds and wrinkles. Approved in 2006 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Juvéderm is primarily used to reduce the appearance of nasolabial folds (i.e., smile lines). It is also used to plump up lips and to fill in hollow areas and scars on the face. The product is eventually absorbed back into the body within six to nine months, requiring repeat injections.

Most common side effects include injection-site redness, swelling, pain/tenderness, firmness, lumps/bumps and bruising. You should minimize any exposure to extreme hot and cold temperatures until the initial redness and swelling resolve.

Realistic expectations required

Although these three popular procedures can enhance your appearance, don’t expect miracles. There is only so much any surgical or nonsurgical procedure can do, and they only mask or slow down the effects of aging. They do not stop time.

It’s true that beauty is only skin-deep. Healthy, clear, smooth skin is the most noticeable part of your appearance, and it’s one of the most defining elements of beauty. No matter the color, skin that is free from treatable imperfections like wrinkles, blemishes, irregular pigmentation, and scars helps reflect its natural beauty.

That said, Bradley Bengtson MD, FACS of Bengston Center for Aesthetics and Plastic Surgery, located in the Grand Rapids Women’s Health Center, 555 Midtowne St. NE, Suite 110, notes that candidates must be healthy and able to verbally state their concerns that he can see and agree with and has a solution to treat. “The candidate must have realistic expectations and be able to afford the procedure,” he says.

Be sure to thoroughly discuss the benefits and risks with your doctor before undergoing any procedure.