What Ages Us Most?What do you think ages our appearance the most? Is it lines and wrinkles? Discoloration? Sagging skin? Truthfully, it is a combination of all of these factors, but there is one major underlying cause that contributes to the sagging, lines, and wrinkles -- a loss of fullness.
It is a cruel irony of aging that as we grow older, we seem to accumulate fat around our middles, but lose it from our faces. Think of a youthful face, and you’ll most likely picture a face with full, rounded cheeks. That’s because fat plays a large part in filling out the skin and keeps our faces looking smooth and supple.
Of course, loss of fat is not the only factor in the equation. There is also loss of collagen, which our bodies stop producing around age 25. To a lesser degree, our facial appearance is also affected by the loss of muscle that accompanies the aging process. All of this adds up to an overall decrease in facial fullness.
So, if loss of fullness is primarily responsible for aging our faces, then why is a face lift the go-to for some looking to reclaim a younger appearance? The truth is, for many patients, it seems as though it’s not. More and more doctors and patients are seeking to improve the appearance of the aging face not through stretching the skin tighter, but filling it from the inside. Enter the age of the liquid face lift.
What Is a Liquid Face Lift?A liquid face lift is the lifting, plumping, filling, smoothing, and/or re-contouring of the face through the use of injectable dermal fillers, such as Restylane, Perlane, Radiesse, Juvederm, Artefill, and Sculptra. As part of the overall procedure, these products are often used in conjunction with each other and in addition to Botox. These products are produced in different ways using different materials, and their specific applications vary somewhat, too.
The Use of BotoxThe use of Botox in addition to dermal fillers can make for better, longer-lasting results. Botox blocks the nerve impulses that cause muscle contractions. When injected into specific areas, it effectively relaxes the muscles that are responsible for making certain facial expressions; these repeated facial expressions contribute to the break down of collagen in certain areas, leading to deep creases and expression lines.
Botox can be especially useful when dermal fillers have been used to fill in expression lines, such as the creases that form when you smile, as repeated over-use of the surrounding muscles will cause the filler to break down more quickly. This breakdown shortens the length of time before more injections are needed to maintain results.
A Few Words of CautionDo not agree to have anything injected into your face or body that is not available in the United States, even if your physician claims it is "all the rage" in Europe. Many patients have been hurt or damaged, some irreparably, by making this mistake. Specifically, you should be aware that silicone in liquid or gel form is not approved in the U.S. for injection into the face or body, and its use in this type of procedure has been associated with many unpleasant, disfiguring, and even fatal complications.
Do not get injected by anyone other than a licensed physician, preferably a board certified plastic surgeon or qualified dermatologist who is trained and experienced in the use of injectable dermal fillers. In some areas where "injection parties" are popular, people are being injected by nurses, aestheticians, and who knows who else. Dermal fillers should be taken as seriously, just like surgery, as the risk of complications increases significantly in the hands of the untrained.
Do not get a dermal filler procedure in the presence of any active skin sore, herpes outbreak, pimple, rash, cyst or infection near the intended injection site. Postpone any such planned procedure until the condition is fully resolved. Also, bear in mind that getting laser treatments, microdermabrasion, chemical peels or other similar skin treatments at the same time as your dermal filler procedure is not recommended. Be sure to inform your physician of any existing medical conditions, as well as any medications you may be taking.
Avoiding the Dreaded "Wax Museum" LookWe've all seen them -- certain celebrities (or next-door neighbors, perhaps) who look as if their faces might melt if they went outside on a warm day. While this is a legitimate concern, there are precautions that you can take to help avoid this sort of outcome. Finding a well-qualified doctor who uses only FDA-approved dermal fillers (in other words, no silicone liquid or gel) is a start. Still, there is more you can do:
- Opt for one of the "temporary" fillers, so that if anything is not to your liking, you need only wait until it "wears off" in six to twelve months. Once you've decided that you like the result, you can always go back and ask for one of the longer-lasting fillers when your results begin to fade.
- Ask your doctor to be conservative. Don't aim for taking off twenty years.
- Don't combine too many procedures at the same time. The "wax figure" look is often associated with very deep chemical peels performed in conjunction with other overly aggressive treatments.
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