Healthy Living: Saving Face
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Youth and beauty are celebrated every-where; just take a look at the Style channel, flip the pages of People for the latest on who had which procedure, when. Or take a look at New Beauty magazine, dedicated to cosmetic enhancement. A cover story on 30-minute “miracle makeovers” touted all manner of in-and-out minimally invasive treatments. No wonder we’re eating them up.
Women account for 91 percent of all cosmetic procedures, and while the number of surgical cosmetic procedures has actually dropped by 12 percent since 2000, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the number of minimally invasive procedures increased by 90 percent during the same period. Among these, the top five procedures in 2008 were Botox® treatments, hyaluronic acid fillers, chemical peels, laser hair removal and microdermabrasion.
The typical Botox® and filler patient is a married, working mother between 41 and 55, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS). These women tend to be health-conscious, with the majority incorporating exercise (95 percent) and healthy eating habits (78 percent) into their lives. Nearly three-quarters of them believe that plumping and filling are an important part of their aesthetic routine.
Research also shows most women aren’t trying to hide procedures from friends, family and co-workers. In fact, 87 percent of those surveyed say they openly discuss their treatments with others, according to a 2009 study conducted by the Aesthetic Surgery Education and Research Foundation, the research arm of ASAPS.
Barton welcomes every opportunity to talk about her treatments. “When anyone asks me to tell them about my experience, I say, ‘How much time do you have?’,” she says.
slow and steady
Just what does minimally invasive mean? It means doing less of everything (including surgery itself), says Stephen Brown, M.D., of Advanced Concepts in Cosmetic Surgery and Skin Care in Hartford and New Britain. “It makes me sad to see someone on TV who’s hit 80 and looks just terrible,” he says. “You know they had incredibly invasive surgeries and someone told them they’d look good forever.”
It doesn’t work that way. No one gets away from aging, says Brown, so he believes in doing so gracefully.
“We do have young women who come in, but sometimes all they need is medical-grade skin care,” he says. “They’ll see the aesthetician in our office, start a regimen, and then say, ‘I don’t want to take anything away from Dr. Brown, but I don’t think I need him.’ You know what? That’s okay with me; in fact, it makes me happy.”
Buscher believes, as do most experts in the field, that cosmetic enhancements should happen slowly, incrementally, and that prevention is still the best medicine for maintaining a youthful appearance.
“We stress prevention,” says Buscher. “The most important three things to remember are protecting yourself against the sun, getting into the habit of gentle exfoliation to keep a youthful, shiny glow, and consistently applying appropriate topicals like antioxidants.
“After that, if a patient is ready to treat the skin, we find that Botox® is a ‘gateway’ procedure,” she says. “It’s simple, it’s injected into a specific area, it’s not very expensive and it lasts four to six months.” The next most popular treatment, she says, is the injection of fillers. Sometimes patients will combine that with skin resurfacing procedures including dermabrasion or chemical peels. The next step—after age and gravity have their way—is often surgery for those bent on looking younger (or at least not older) than they are.
“But the bottom line for any age,” says Buscher, “is keep what you have and keep it as natural as possible.”