A New Wrinkle

Non-Surgical Procedures Make Cosmetic Enhancements More Accessible

By Sara Gavin | Photography by Tuner Photography Studio | Posted on 11.23.13 – Biz Ink, Feature, People & Places

As she entered her late 40s, Abigail Jones found herself wishing she could turn back the clock a few years every time she looked in the mirror. “I just felt like my eyes looked really tired and I didn’t like the wrinkles on my lips.” After much fretting over frown lines and cringing over crow’s feet, she made an appointment at The Cosmetic and Skin Surgery Center on Thomas Johnson Drive. “I was very leery and I think I kinda stereotyped it,” Jones says. “I thought it was for people trying to be all Hollywood.”

She was also convinced it would require a scalpel, general anesthesia and probably a painful recovery period to erase years off her appearance. However, she was surprised when the doctors didn’t suggest surgery at all—instead recommending injectable fillers around her mouth and Botox near her eyes and forehead to provide the results she wanted. “It was an improvement, but not a radical change, and it made me feel good,” Jones says.

Recent advancements in technology have made it so that having “work” done for many people doesn’t mean going under the knife. Dr. Michael Warner, a cosmetic dermatologist at The Cosmetic and Skin Surgery Center, says developments in laser techniques and injectable treatments have made beautifying procedures more accessible and acceptable for larger segments of the population. “I think these procedures have become more normal instead of novel and only for the elite,” says Warner. “There’s just a general acceptance now of doing things that improve your look.”

Warner says roughly half of the people that come into his practice receive treatments that are non-surgical, with Botox injections leading the options. Botox works by injecting a small, diluted amount of a neurotoxin protein that causes controlled weakening of the muscles, thus smoothing out wrinkles. Treatments start at around $300 and the effects can last up to several months.

Meanwhile, injectable fillers like Juvederm, Restalyne and Dermafill are also popular for dealing with common wrinkles like laugh lines. The cost for fillers is similar to Botox but results can sometimes last as long as 12 months. With both Botox and filler treatments, the procedures each only take a few minutes to complete and side effects can include minor redness, occasional bruising and swelling.

The Cosmetic and Skin Surgery Center also offers a line of laser peels, which the center reports  are increasingly popular. The peels can help with texture, pore size, fine lines, acne and scarring without much downtime—just a little flaking and light peeling. The cost of the peels averages a couple hundred dollars.

Warner says he sees younger clientele frequently taking advantage of treatments like Botox, fillers and peels because of their affordability, rapid results and minimal side effects. “Some procedures are very good at slowing down aging which is easier than reversing it,” he says. “For people in their 20s, it’s usually the start of crows’ feet or wrinkles between the eyebrows that brings them in. With one treatment that will go away and at that age you may only have to do it once a year.”

As with many professions in this day and age, staying abreast of rapidly changing technology can be a challenge for dermatologists and plastic  surgeons with new products and procedures streaming into the market at regular intervals. “Our job is to sort out the science from the hype and a lot of times we have to test the devices out ourselves to tell whether they deliver what they promise,” says Warner.

One new treatment Warner is excited to be offering is called MiraDry, which utilizes electromagnetic energy to treat excessive sweating  in the underarm area, also known as hyperhidrosis. While the recommended two-session treatment costs $3,000, “it’s a life changer for those patients,” says Warner.

Fixing the Frame

Certain cosmetic procedures have become so commonplace these days that you don’t necessarily need to visit a dermatologist or plastic surgeon to find the latest treatments. You can get a little Botox after your annual dental checkup or treat cellulite following a session with your chiropractor.

For example, Frederick dentist Jeffrey Cross decided to start offering Botox and Dermafill at his practice on Solarex Court in May. “I was doing other cosmetic procedures and it’s a natural progression from doing things inside the mouth to the face,” says Cross. “It’s like the picture and the picture frame. You can’t have a beautiful picture in an ugly frame.”

To learn how to administer the procedures, Cross received training through the American Academy of Facial Esthetics, which claims to provide training for non-surgical and non-invasive facial esthetic techniques to healthcare professionals worldwide. While most dentists are skilled hands at using needles, Cross says it takes a slightly different technique to deliver the cosmetic injections. He isn’t aggressively marketing the procedures just yet but says he’s working with interested patients to develop treatment plans based on their individual desires to improve both their faces and their smiles.

Targeting Trouble Zones

Meanwhile, Universal Healthcare specialists, a wellness center located on Key Parkway in Frederick, started offering a new procedure called LipoLite in August. According to Universal’s weight loss specialist Shannon Melia, LipoLite
works by applying LED lights directly onto the skin. The fat cells absorb the light energy and then release toxins into the lymphatic system, causing the fat cells to shrink down. While the treatment can reduce cellulite and tighten skin, it’s primarily used for weight loss and targeting trouble zones. “When you go to the gym, it’s very difficult to target one specific spot,” says Melia. “We are forcing your body to pull from that area to burn those calories and burn that fat.”

Melia says LipoLite is painless for patients and results are usually noticeable between the first and third treatments. “Around the sixth treatment is when people see the ‘wow’ factor,” she says. Universal also develops an exercise and diet program for people receiving LipoLite treatments so that they can maintain their results. Each LipoLite session takes roughly 20 minutes and costs $299, with discounts available for multiple sessions or patients involved in a weight loss program, Melia says.

But whether it’s a Botox boost at the dentist, a little LipoLite at the chiropractor or a laser peel at the dermatologist, more and more people are turning to non-surgical cosmetic procedures to enhance and preserve their appearances.

While Abigail Jones hasn’t ruled out undergoing an actual surgical procedure sometime in the future, she says the treatments she’s had so far are getting exactly the kind of reaction she had hoped for. “A very dear friend said to me: ‘I don’t know what you’re doing but your face looks so fresh and young.’ What woman doesn’t want to hear that?” she says. “It was just the seal of approval I needed.”