If you looked in the mirror in 1987 and saw the wrinkles and sags of aging, you might have joined the “new revolution” that was sweeping the country and considered plastic surgery.
You didn’t know it at the time, but your options were quite limited.
That year, as I completed my plastic surgery residency at the University of Chicago, I could offer you a facelift or eyelid lift for those big sags, a browlift that left scars across the scalp from ear to ear, a deep chemical peel and maybe collagen for those fine wrinkles. And that was about it.
Over the last two decades, facial rejuvenation has undergone a quiet change from a “healing with steel” field to a much less invasive undertaking. The metamorphosis has been gradual but steady, and now the vast majority of people who want to look better and younger can do so without the incisions and long recovery of surgery.
Plastic surgeons love to operate. It’s in their DNA. But while cosmetic surgery is more popular than ever, most of the growth has been in those procedures that don’t require a scalpel. And while that may bother some surgeons who are now forced to evolve, it’s good for you. After all, who really wants to feel discomfort during and after a procedure, and hide out for weeks waiting for bruising and swelling to settle?
Certainly, if you’ve got a huge turkey gobbler in your neck, or your eyelids are blocking your vision, surgery may well be in your future. But if you’re like most people—if you have milder changes of aging—then the projects that plastic surgeons and pharmaceutical and engineering scientists are working on might just be for you.
The sociomedical movement to eliminate the scalpel can be traced to the 1990s when Botox first became popular. This wildly popular drug paralyzes muscles and stops their pull on the skin. Wrinkles immediately soften and the longer you use the drug the less wrinkles you’ll have. While the discussion is usually about Botox, there’s actually two other drugs that do the same thing. Dysport has been competing with Botox for a few years and very soon Xeomin will be launching an advertising campaign.
Botox has all but eliminated the operations that lifted eyebrows and cut out the muscles responsible for those dreaded vertical lines over the nose. Even with surgery, the body is so good at fixing itself that within a year, scars form and bridge muscle gaps helping to recreate those wrinkles. If only we could tell our cells that we removed the muscle for fun.
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