Never before have men and women had so many options available to make them look and feel younger. Many treatments are non-surgical and minimally invasive and come with a much lower price tag than traditional cosmetic surgery. Some of the most popular treatments today include injectable drugs that reduce the appearance of wrinkles, laser hair removal, sclerotherapy, and photofacials.
Laser Hair Removal
Laser hair removal procedures have been used for the permanent removal of unwanted hair since the late 1990s. During the procedure, a clinician presses a hand-held laser instrument to the skin and activates a laser which passes through the skin’s surface to the follicles where hair growth originates. The intense heat damages the hair follicle, thus inhibiting hair growth. Several treatments may be needed to provide an extended hair-free period. Redness or swelling may occur for up to two days after the procedure, depending on the area treated. Commonly treated areas include the upper lip, chin, shoulders and back, underarms, pubic area, bikini area, and legs.
Sclerotherapy refers to a procedure in which a sclerosant drug is injected into the veins, causing them to shrink. Sclerotherapy is commonly used to treat varicose and spider veins and has been used in various forms for decades. A major benefit of this treatment is that the sclerosing solution generally closes the feeder veins under the skin which are causing the abnormal vein to form. That means, typically, there is no recurrence. Multiple treatments may be needed and a compression garment is typically worn for a couple of weeks after each treatment.
Photofacials, also referred to as photo rejuvenation, use pulsed light treatments to improve the look of sun-damaged and/or aging skin, hyperpigmentation, flushing, enlarged pores, and redness. During treatment, an intense light is emitted in a series of gentle pulses over the affected area. These lights use multiple wavelengths to penetrate all the layers of skin while leaving the surrounding tissues intact. While some minor discomfort may occur during the actual procedure, side effects are generally minimal and little or no down time is required. Photofacials are not recommended for women who are pregnant.
Injectable Wrinkle Treatments
Perhaps most popular in our society are injectable wrinkle treatments such as Botox and Restylane. While many people tend to lump these treatments together, they actually work very differently in the body.
- Restylane and Perlane are hyaluronic acid injections. Hyaluronic acid (HA) occurs naturally in the human body and helps create fullness and elasticity in the skin by helping the cells hold water and remain plump. The HA compounds found in these injections have been modified to create a longer-lasting effect, but they work by binding to water, much like naturally-occurring HA. Hyaluronic acid injections may be used to treat moderate to severe facial wrinkles.
- Botox comes from the Clostridium botulinum bacteria, which causes temporary paralysis of the muscles that cause frown lines and brow furrows. A clinician trained in the use of Botox will inject small amounts into the muscle, causing paralysis which typically lasts around four months. As the muscle returns to normal, the wrinkles will begin to reappear in the treated areas.
Wendy Parks, a Nurse Practitioner with King Family Medicine in Edmond, has been performing non-surgical cosmetic treatments such as these for about five years. “Botox scares some people, but I’ve never seen any problems with it as long as the patient is a good candidate and the medical staff is well trained in administering it. That’s key for any cosmetic procedure.”
Those with autoimmune disorders, connective tissue diseases, and diabetes may not be candidates for these procedures. “The nice thing about these procedures is there is very little down time, so anyone can fit them into a busy schedule,” Parks said.
The confidence boost that may result from non-surgical cosmetic procedures can be a major benefit to a person’s overall sense of well being. With so many new innovations in this area and such short recovery periods, cosmetic procedures are becoming more practical and affordable. If you’ve been considering a cosmetic procedure, contact a cosmetic clinician to discuss the risks and benefits.
Shannon Fields is a freelance writer and a Certified Pharmacy Technician at Innovative Pharmacy Solutions. She holds a BA in Psychology with a minor in English from the University of Central Oklahoma. Shannon lives in Edmond with her husband and two daughters.