Whatever your beauty woes – and most of us have at least one – there’s a high-tech clinical anti-ageing treatment out there to help fix it. Here’s a roundup of some of our favourites, including four that the Expat Living team had the great good fortune to personally review.
Problem: All the fat on my face seems to be dropping to my jawline! (It’s an age thing, apparently). So my forehead feels boney, lined and needs some plumping, and I don’t have a fringe to hide it.
Solution: Restylane Skinbooster, to hydrate the skin from within, providing lasting moisture and also stimulating collagen production. It also helps to reduce the look of scars, fade any discolouration, and improve overall skin tone to prevent that dried out, shrivelled look.
How it works: The multiple-injection device pierces the skin with five tiny needles, like a miniature staple gun, causing a degree of trauma that shocks the area into producing more collagen. At the same time, as the micro-needles penetrate the skin, they release hyaluronic acid into the dermis to restore hydration, improving elasticity while strengthening and thickening the skin.
Aftermath: I’d been pre-warned to expect some downtime in the form of redness for a couple of days, and possibly some bruising. After the treatment, my forehead did look a bit pinpricked, but by the next day it just looked like a rash – easily covered with foundation. Luckily, I didn’t experience any bruising, and two days later nobody notices anything – even when I point it out.
Cost: $2,800. It’s recommended to do three sessions at monthly intervals.
Single-Stitch Thread Lift
Another anti-ageing, anti-sagging therapy, this US FDA-approved, minimally invasive treatment is just one of a wide range of beauty fixes in Dr Yvonne Goh’s armament. She likes its dual-action effect: firstly, the threads immediately and noticeably lift and re-contour the treated area; and secondly, they continue to firm and tauten the skin during the months that follow by boosting collagen production. It’s designed to address any problematic sagging in areas such as the brow, the midface, the jowl area and the neck.
The technology: Thanks to special cone technology, the threads are anchored into the tissue – so they don’t have to be attached to anchor points. The result? A more natural result, and no risk of the threads snapping. In addition, these threads regenerate tissue and restore volume to the face. They’re also biochemically neutral and bioabsorbable, appealing to those of us who don’t like the idea of having something that will remain in our faces permanently.
The procedure: It takes only about 20 minutes, so you can literally have it done during your lunchtime. After a small local anaesthetic, a micro-needle is used to thread the soft threads through the skin of the treatment area – no incisions, no chance of scarring. It can be done as a stand-alone treatment, or together with fillers or Botox.
Cost: From $1,600
Problem: Getting older, losing collagen and generally falling apart. More specifically, I’m bothered by the pores on my nose and T-zone, fine lines around the eyes and mouth, and pigmentation patches on the cheeks, and looking for some overall skin rejuvenation.
Solution: Pixel CO2 is a fractional laser system that improves skin texture and tone, reduces fine lines and minimises pore size. Not only is it an effective skin rejuvenator, but it can also target specific worries such as acne scars and other blemishes.
How it works: Like the traditional CO2 laser, the Pixel CO2 removes a layer of skin to reveal a new layer that has a more refined texture and better appearance. Unlike traditional CO2, however, which would keep you at home for two weeks, this fractional version delivers laser in pixels and promises rapid healing and minimal downtime. “People like it because they can get back to their usual activities right away,” says Dr Soosay. However, as with any light-based therapy, you need to strictly avoid any sunlight for at least the first 48 hours, and preferably up to two weeks.
Aftermath: My face is a bit red for the rest of the day and evening. Next morning, it’s just slightly pink, nothing that ordinary foundation can’t hide. A fine crust develops as my skin heals, invisibly flaking off after five or six days to reveal clear, new skin. She usually recommends a monthly treatment for four to six months. Start early and do it regularly – don’t wait till those fine lines are deeply entrenched and your collagen is all but depleted.
One of Dr Valentin Low’s most popular treatments, Laser Touch is one of the latest and most promising advances in dermatology for the elimination of signs of ageing.
How it works: A controlled amount of microscopic laser beam is delivered to heat the collagen and new skin cells in the underlying layers, bringing about smoother, younger, healthier-looking skin. Most patients notice changes in the tone and condition of their skin immediately following Laser Touch. However, because the technology stimulates the natural growth of collagen, it may take up to a few weeks for the patient to see optimal results.
Procedure: Laser Touch is a quick treatment, and a session takes only 15 to 20 minutes. Discomfort is minimal; patients may feel a warm sensation at the site of treatment, but it’s easily tolerable. As the procedure isn’t associated with any sort of downtime, you’ll be able to resume your lifestyle immediately. Dr Low generally recommends a series of three treatments, depending on the condition of your skin and the results you’re hoping to achieve.
Benefits: Expect to see fewer lines and wrinkles, a more radiant skin tone, firmer skin, smaller pores, reduced acne scars and an overall rejuvenated complexion
Problem: My skin is generally normal, with not too many imperfections or pimples, but I do suffer from sunspots. A few are on my face and forehead, and there’s a larger patch that seems to get bigger on the side of my face. Also, I have some tiny broken veins around the sides of my nose.
Solution: The Limelight Facial by Cutera, ideal for treating sunspots, redness and tiny veins on any part of your face, neck or décolleté. It also improves the appearance of rosacea.
How it works: The Limelight facial is a non-invasive approach to skin rejuvenation using Cutera’s Limelight, a pulsed-light (IPL) system. With three programme settings, the therapist can customise the delivery to selectively target your particular problem spots. First, the whole face is treated with a milder pulse that rejuvenates the skin; followed by a stronger pulse on the individual broken capillaries, darker spots and patches. It all lasts around 45 minutes.
Aftermath: I felt tingly afterwards, and later my face started to feel a bit sore, red and itchy. This calmed down after a couple of hours. That evening, my brown spots began turning darker and continued that way for about four days until they eventually came to the surface in the form of soft, dark flakes that I could wash off gently with a mild scrub. This treatment gave me amazing results; my face felt like a million dollars and my skin was so clear – I had lots of nice comments!
Cost: $145 for the first trial, then $290 per session
Problem: I started noticing the change in photographs: when I grinned, small cheeks bulged madly against their own bones and my hollowed-out temples. That look, explains Dr Sylvia, is caused by an age-related loss of volume – not only in the natural fat-pockets, but also a loss of bone mass. Losing volume and structure in the mid-face has another unpleasant effect: the cheeks descend flabbily to the jawline. It’s a bit like hanging a garment over a too-narrow hanger, Sylvia explains – the underlying structure can’t fully support what it’s carrying.
Solution: The Liquid Lift, an individually tailored treatment using fillers of different densities to restore lost volume and hike the whole face up. “We don’t chase lines,” emphasises Sylvia Ramirez. “That’s the old way of doing things. Instead, we replace volume in areas of loss.”
How it works: Sylvia recommends hyaluronic acid (HA) – a dissolvable substance that is found naturally in our skins for me. It is injected fairly deep into the facial fat compartments right next to the bone. As these deep fat pads are separated by muscle, the injected HA cannot move from one area to another. For the upper face, she uses Juvéderm Voluma, a denser compound with a greater capacity to lift, and has a good lasting effect; for the lower face, Juvéderm Volift, which is a softer compound.
Aftermath: It can take two weeks for the dermal filler to integrate fully with the surrounding tissues. You can expect swelling for a few days, and bruising is possible. I get away with just one tender and noticeable bruise – on the right, happily near the hairline that takes only a couple of week to heal. Botox kicks in after two or three days, slightly lifting the brow and opening up the eye area in a way that I’ve come to love.
Cost: Depends on the number of areas treated, the amount of filler, and the number of Botox units required.
Tailored Body Contouring
Problems: As we age, our metabolism slows and the body holds on to everything you eat. The result? Unsightly lumps, bumps and muffin-tops that stubbornly resist even your best efforts in the gym. And when you do manage to lose weight, there’s lax skin to deal with.
Solutions: Non- invasive therapies can be used for minor adjustments to the body contours. They include cooling devices such as CoolSculpting by Zeltiq, and high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) devices such as Liposonix. CoolSculpting requires an area of fat that can be pinched between the cooling plates. Liposonix is better for skin contraction, but is a little uncomfortable and requires a collection of fat that is at least 3cm thick. Larger adjustments to the body contours are achieved using liposuction either alone or together with resection of the fat – abdominoplasty, for example. Types of liposuction include traditional liposuction, power-assisted liposuction, water-jet assisted liposuction and ultrasound assisted liposuction. Removal of loose skin and fat in the arms is called brachyplasty; in the thighs it’s called thighplasty.
Finally, live fat cells can be harvested and transplanted from one area to another in the body. This is done with low-pressure liposuction to keep the cells alive. The cells are then concentrated and injected into the face, breasts or other parts of the body. In larger fat transfers, the Lipokit is used to select younger fat cells for injection, giving a better success rate. Of course, all these treatments should be coupled with a sensible diet and exercise programme to maintain the results.
This story first appeared in the LIV November 2015 issue. For subscription offers click here.