Healthy Living: Saving Face

 

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The girlfriends—all of them pretty, fit and inching toward 40—were having pedicures in a New Haven nail salon when Mary, sitting in the middle, lowered her voice: “Look. Just look at this.” She pushed her bangs away to reveal a faintly furrowed brow. “I’ve decided, I’m doing it. I don’t care if he thinks I don’t need it. I’m going in.” Her friends leaned forward in their massage chairs. On her left, Deb nodded sympathetically. “I know what you mean,” she said. Covering her eyes with both hands, she said, “I absolutely hate my crow’s feet.” Sarah, on the right, cried out with a flourish, “Ladies, I do believe it’s time for a Botox® party!”

Our beauty lexicon is changing. From Botox® to Juvéderm®, laser resurfacing to liquid lifts, the list of lyrically named commercial cosmetic enhancements available today is a long one. Sure, the market for traditional face-lifts and body- contouring procedures (tummy tucks, liposuction and the like) is still strong, but an increasing number of patients are opting for more subtle improvements—procedures that are effective but less risky, and far less costly. In short: those that don’t require a scalpel.

“Less is more” and “sooner rather than later” are words that more and more women (and some men) are living by. They are opting for “maintenance” procedures, not overhauls. And they’re having these “tweaks” done earlier (in their 30s and 40s—some even in their 20s).

“Over the last five years we have seen more and more young women come in, often just inquiring about procedures,” says Leif Nordberg, M.D., a plastic surgeon in Stamford. “It’s word of mouth. They’ll hear about us, one friend to another, and try something that’s easy with minimal risk.”

It’s no longer enough to take the years off; many would rather never put them on.

fooling Mother Nature

“It starts like this,” says Theresa Barton of Danbury. “You look in the mirror and you see that deep furrow when you squint or you’re angry. But when you relax, it doesn’t go away.” Barton says she was 38 when she began thinking about it, and 40 when she had her first Botox® treatment. “Once you see that the lines are no longer there, then you’re hooked, absolutely hooked.” Now 43, Barton is content to keep up with her regimen—which includes Juvéderm® in her laugh lines and collagen filler in her finer lines—for the foreseeable future. “I wouldn’t do anything invasive, not even a lower face-lift, for at least 10 years,” she says.

Got wrinkles, fine lines, blemishes, sag­ging skin or scarring? No worries; there’s a filler or a peel for that. And if you play your cards right, you may be able to defer the need for serious (albeit elective) surgery for more than a few years.

“There is definitely a trend toward starting earlier with a maintenance regimen,” says Prashant Soni, M.D., of Advanced Cosmetic and Plastic Surgery in Danbury. “And I believe that is the part of the industry that is going to boom.” Soni attributes this growing interest to increased awareness and sound information disseminated by the media, as well as the convenience that comes with shorter, less complex outpatient procedures.

Soni estimates that 80 percent of his patients are women, some of them as young as 25. “Most of these women do not need surgery, but they want to keep a youthful look, a freshness about them,” he says. “Because a lot of these women are working, they can’t afford the bruising or a four-to-six-week recovery period a surgical procedure requires. But most of them will come into the office for a 10-minute procedure, two times a year, indefinitely.”

It’s true, says Beth A. Buscher, M.D., of Dermatology Associates of Western Connecticut. “We are definitely seeing an increase in younger patients, but to be honest I’m not sure if it isn’t because there are so many procedures available now and a greater awareness of them.”

Healthy Living: Saving Face

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