There’s no procedure out there that can surpass the incredible results of an artfully performed facelift. However, not everyone is ready to go under the knife. So, what are the options available for those who wish to deter the inevitable signs of aging without prematurely experiencing a full-on facelift? Well, according to aesthetic doctors and plastic surgeons at SW1 Clinic, there are quite a few time-tested, FDA-approved alternatives to a traditional facelift surgery.
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Thermage & Ultherapy
Thermage and Ultherapy are both energy-based lifting devices that work by using radio-frequency (Thermage) or Sonar (Ultherapy) energy to heat up collagen and tighten connective tissue below the skin. According to doctors, these are ideal in those patients who feel the collagen in their soft tissues are getting too soft and gravitating downward, which can be felt even in early 30s for some patients. Both of these machines are favorites as stand-alone procedures in patients from their 30s to 50s, and are often used in conjunction with Botox and fillers to achieve a greater synergistic effect.
Thermage works on the top layers of the skin with Ultherapy’s main target area being deeper tissue contraction. Since our sagging is usually a result of both deterioration of the top and bottom layers of the skin, combination of both treatments is said to give optimal outcome.
Bonus: One session of each therapy is all that is required to effect the skin lifting benefits. Results are long lasting with patients coming in for maintenance at least a year after the initial treatment.
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For patients in their 40s who experience sagging of the mid-face and visible nasolabial and marionette lines, Thermage and Ultherapy can work wonders. However, some people need a little more than that to get truly drastic results. To achieve further lifting, thread lifting—using either Silhouette InstaLift or Infinity V-lift—is recommended,” says Dr. Kenneth Lee, medical director of SW1 Clinic. “The trick to a successful thread lift is understanding the nuances of the mechanism and strength of the threads and creating proper vectors and anchors to create a subtle but definite and natural lift. After completion of one side, patient is brought up to a sitting position so patients can directly visualize and compare the lifted vs non-lifted side as well as with their pre-operative pictures” adds Dr. Lee. Because there’s typically no bruising or swelling post-procedure, Dr. Lee says some patients resume their full activities and return to work on the same day. However, it’s advised to reserve a day to recover just in case some swelling appears.
Silhouette threads excel in giving sagging tissues maximal lift while Infinity threads are able to reshape and slim the face beautifully. Patients may choose to have a combination of both types of threads to give optimal lifting and reshaping of the lower face.
Bonus: These collagen-stimuating threads are 100% bio-absorbable which means they break down over time, leaving behind matrix of collagen produced by your skin to suspend the skin in a more uplifted position.
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Using fillers with lifting properties, doctors can now refill parts of the face that has lost volume with age. In particular, the lateral aspects of our faces tend to lose volume insidiously over time. “When fillers are placed in the lateral aspects of the face, it can give the facial skin an ‘upward pull’ effect” says Dr Chua Han Boon, aesthetic doctor at SW1 Clinic. “Of course, when fillers are used on sunken areas of the faces, they can also help to restore the overall fullness of youth, enabling one to look younger instantly” he adds.
Hyaluronic acid dermal fillers are natural compounds that breakdown over time safely by the body. Results can last between 6-12 months depending on the type and volume of fillers used. Aesthetic doctors say that Juvederm, Restylane, Boletero are some of the brands used that have given good results. “There is no ideal filler for everyone, but depending on your needs, there is an ideal filler with properties that can give you the results you desire” says Dr Chua.
Bonus: Fillers stimulate fibroblasts which stimulate collagen in your skin, improving results over the initial few weeks after treatment.
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Now is the time to relook an old treatment— BOTOX.
Initially, an anti-wrinkle therapy to reduce lines and wrinkles, BOTOX can now be used in techniques that can give skin a lift. The doses used in this procedure called MicroRefine is much lower than the standard Botox, and they are distributed to frame the face as well as on the lower jaw and neck. They help to minimize pores and give skin a lifting effect by gently negating all the downward forces of muscles that augment the effect of gravity. In this manner, the muscles that naturally lift our face are in a better position to hold the face up (think of the mouth corners).
Bonus: Smaller pores, diminished neck bands and a reduced downturn of the mouth result after a BOTOX lift. Apart from looking younger, patients who have undergone this procedure usually look fresher and happier too!