We are fortunate in this day and age to have a wide range of cosmetic procedures that are available to address signs of aging, but it may be confusing as to what any individual needs for their particular concerns. Injectable neurotoxins, such as Botox and Dysport, fillers and lasers are probably the most used cosmetic procedures, so we will discuss those particular procedures here and in what situations they can be used.
Injectable neurotoxins are the most common cosmetic procedure used. Botulinum toxin from which Botox and Dysport are derived causes paralysis of muscles. In the diluted and controlled amounts, we use for cosmetic procedures, injectable neurotoxins can be used to relax facials muscles that cause wrinkles. Whenever a facial expression is made, as the skin gets thinner and that expression is made multiple times, wrinkles start to form in those areas which get deeper and more prominent over time. Botox or Dysport can be used to help to slow down this process as well as softening lines that are already there. Areas that these products can be used are forehead lines (caused by raising of the eyebrows), frown lines between the eyebrows and crow’s feet on the outer area of the eyes (caused by squinting the eyes). The amount of injectable neurotoxin can be varied depending on how much relaxation is appropriate and desired by the patient. The more relaxation there is, the more softening of the wrinkles but the less movement that muscle can make; the less relaxation there is, the less softening of the wrinkles but the more movement that muscle can make. Although injectable neurotoxins can be used once the wrinkles are formed, a better approach is to start treating when the wrinkles are just starting to form and slow down the process rather than trying to turn back the clock after the wrinkles are already there.
When the face ages, not only do wrinkles form, but the volume of the skin, connective tissue under the skin, muscle and bone can also decrease which gives a more hollow, aged look. There are numerous different fillers on the market with subtle differences but in general, fillers are used to fill in areas of decreased volume to give the face a more youthful look. Depending on which filler is used and where the filler is placed, it can not only fill in areas of volume loss but can also give a lift to the cheeks and jowls without having to do surgery. With prolonged use, fillers can also help to stimulate natural collagen production to give the skin youthful firmness.
Lasers target specific colors in the skin. The most common colors that people want to target for a more youthful look is brown and red. With time and sun exposure, brown pigmentation will start to show as well as thin red vessels as the skin things. Lasers can target these areas to make the skin look more even. Certain lasers, such as the IPL, or photofacial, have also been shown to help stimulate collagen growth over time.
Different cosmetic procedures will focus more on and improve upon certain aspects of an aging face. Injectable neurotoxins help address wrinkles that are caused by facial expressions, fillers fill in areas of volume loss which gives the face a saggy, aged appearance and lasers help to even out skin tone. Depending on what bothers an individual patient, all 3 modalities can be used or just 1 or 2 of them. If you are interested in addressing signs of aging, visit your dermatologist for a cosmetic consultation to form a plan customized for your specific needs.