How To Look 10 Years Younger Without Surgery, According to a Leading Plastic Surgeon
Aug 06, 2021
From radio frequency and micro-needling to Erbium lasers, there are now an array of effective, non-surgical treatments designed to tighten and smooth the face.
If you’re like me, you’re overwhelmed by the many skin-tightening treatments on the market today. I even had to break this article up into two separate pieces when I learned there are such a wealth of body tightening technologies that stimulate muscular contractions along with separate youth-enhancing treatments designed for the face. I love the idea of firming up my already tight backside (I work out A LOT), but what I really want is to take years–and wrinkles–off of my face.
So, how do I know what works and what doesn’t? And what is best for me?
I went to the best in the biz to find out.
Dr. Michael Roskies is a double fellowship-trained, facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon who is co-owner of Youth & Yorkville Plastic Surgery Center and medical director at SpaMedica in the tony Toronto neighborhood of Yorkville. I reached out to him because I know a few of his patients - one is a frequent guest on morning television and the other is a high-powered exec with beaucoup bucks who could go anywhere, do anything, and she chooses to be a client of Dr. Roskies.
“We like to use analogies a lot in the office,” Dr. Roskies says. And because interest in gardening has shot up 300 percent over the last year, “the skin can be described perfectly well with this analogy.” So, to borrow a show tune from The Sound Of Music – “these are a few of his favorite things,” in order of the planting process.
Or “plowing the field,” according to Dr. Roskies. “Morpheus8 uses little gold-coated needles and heat placed at specified depths to stimulate collagen production, improve textural changes and in some instances provide tightening,” he says. So, you’re getting the benefits of two treatments combined. Radio Frequency, or RF, uses energy waves to heat the deep dermis layer of your skin and has been used for decades to treat the signs of aging, specifically that sag, while micro-needling causes controlled surface damage through physical penetration. Both of these things work together to resurface the skin, decreasing adverse pigmentation issues and scaring while increasing collagen, elastin and dermal volume. Morpheus8 is similar to the technology powering Profound radiofrequency microneedling by Candela.
Which one is better? Depends on what you need and who you ask. Some doctors, like Dr. Ben Talei, offer both but still have their favorites. Others would say Morpheus8 tops Profound, at least according to Hollywood skin guru Dr. Jason Emer.
Treatments take 10 to 20 minutes. You’ll have three days of redness,and expect a week for full healing. As far as pain goes, many tiny needles are being pressed into the skin, so it is uncomfortable. You'll get numbing cream, and depending on your provider, maybe oral meds and even nitrous oxide.
Each treatment is priced in the area of $1,000 and the number of treatments depends on the individual client's needs, but plan on three to five. Major improvements can take up to three weeks with the final reveal at three months, and those results can last anywhere from 1-3 years.
Dr. Roskies calls this one, “laying down fertilizer.” If you like big butts and you cannot lie, then you know that syringes full of this stuff is one of the ways they are built. Now used to build faces as well, the results are both subtle and natural. “Made out of the same material as some implants and surgical stitches,” says Dr. Roskies, “the beads in Sculptra, once placed uniformly under the skin, stimulate the body’s native immune system to dissolve them and replace them with good collagen.”
Here is where we clarify that Sculptra is not a Hyaluronic acid based dermal filler like Restylane or Juvaderm. It is a Polylactic acid-based collagen stimulator that enhances skin tone and texture while improving skin health. According to Dr. Roskies, “the effects last up to 25 months in many patients and many see changes as early as a few months.”
If you are someone who wants volume but you’re afraid to go down the rabbit hole of hyaluronic-based fillers, Sculptra injections can give you back the face you had, rather than rearranging your features into something new. (Personally, I’m down for both.) Treatments take about an hour, and you’ll get numbing cream and a squeeze ball to help you tolerate the pain of having fluid injected into your face. Sculptra goes for about $700 per vial, and the number of vials needed will depend on the area treated and maybe even your age. Plan on two full vials max per appointment.
What Dr. Roskies refers to as the “irrigation system.” This is how you get the goodies into your garden and it’s another RF device, also from InMode. “FaceTite employs radio frequency to melt fat under the skin,” says Dr. Roskies, in order to, “heat it to the exact temperature needed to stimulate collagen production.” If you think it sounds like something we’ve already covered, you’re not wrong. “What Morpheus8 does from the outside-in, surgical heating devices do from the inside-out.” With FaceTite, it’s a deeper level of penetration with results that can last up to five years.
FaceTite treatments using local anesthesia or with sedation, so the pain is minimal. You’ll be in the office for about an hour and should plan on about a week of swelling. The price varies widely, from hundreds to thousands of dollars, depending on the area treated and who your provider is. The good news is that you’ll only need one session to see great results, though FaceTite is often combined with liposuction or micro-needling for maximum effect.
This is like, “watering the grass,” according to Dr. Roskies. “We use a special blend of neurotoxin, stem cells and antioxidants delivered with micro-needling to hydrate and tone the most superficial layers of the skin.”
While the price tag is comparable to some of the other treatments, TikToker favorite, Dr. Kay Durairaj offers her signature Airbrush facial for $900, this curated treatment provides “pretty immediate benefits” with minimal pain and no downtime, with the caveat from Dr. Roskies that the results are generally, “not as significant as (with) the other devices” we’ve mentioned here. You should plan on having three to five treatments every six to 12 weeks for maximum results.
“Mowing the lawn” is how Dr. Roskies refers to this one. “Starting fresh every season with a laser peel or deeper resurfacing is the most impactful for the skin,” he says. “The laser removes the superficial layers of the skin and pokes holes in the deeper layers to allow the skin to repair itself by stimulating collagen.”
Vaporizing your cells sounds like something a super villain might do, but in this context, it not only induces texture and pigment changes on the surface, but also significantly affects the appearance of both superficial and deep wrinkles.
Like me, you might be more familiar with the CO2 laser. Both are ablative lasers (ablation is the surgical removal of body tissue) designed to remove the outer layers of the skin using a burst of energy, though the Erbium laser is less aggressive, more manageable for darker skin tones, and your downtime could be cut in half. No small thing when you have a job and all of these other treatments to get to!
This treatment takes about one hour during an in-office visit and, I can share from personal experience, it is not comfortable. It will be performed under local anesthesia with or without sedation, depending on your provider. Prepare to spend close to $2,000 depending on the area treated, and be sure you have some vacation days coming up. (I did the CO2 laser a few years ago and man, did I look scary for a while.) Plan on seven to ten days of pretty extreme redness and peeling, but keep in mind that you’ll only need one treatment, and the results are said to last for years - huzzah!
I think the takeaway here is that we all have different skin care needs. Skin tightening can be highly effective, but it is not a one-stop-shop. Do the research and speak with the medical professionals. Treatment protocols are always evolving, and strategizing is key if you want to optimize results as well as the hit to your handbag.
Amanda Fletcher is a writer, editor and coach whose personal focus is recovery and wellness. A prolific travel and freelance feature writer, her work has been published in the Los Angeles Review of Books, the Orange County Register, FAR & WIDE and many more. You can follow her story on Instagram @theamandafletcher and find her at http://amandafletcher.me