Cosmetic Procedures Rise as Boomers Search for ‘Fountain of Youth’

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Dr. Sonoa Au with Advanced Dermatology P.C. Offers Tips for Preventing Sags and Bags in Aging Skin

Dr. Sonoa Au

Demand for cosmetic procedures to rejuvenate skin, especially on the face and neck, has increased in step with the growth of our aging population.

Beauty certainly is in the eye of the beholder -- an adage proving increasingly true as more Baby-boomers – and, yes, early Generation Xers just hitting their 50s – stare at the sags and bags in their aging facial skin and hurriedly seek ways of restoring that youthful look, according to Sonoa Au, M.D., of Advanced Dermatology, P.C.

“Search for the ‘fountain of youth’ is ongoing and universal,” says Dr. Au, who is a board-certified dermatologist and a fellow of the American College of Dermatology. “Self-esteem – and quality of life -- so much involve one’s perception of outward appearance. That’s why demand for cosmetic procedures to rejuvenate skin, especially on the face and neck, has increased in step with the growth of our aging population.”

The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery reports that, in 2015, some 10 billion cosmetic procedures were performed in the United States – a 12 percent increase -- at a total cost of $12 billion.

Proving most popular have been non-surgical applications to smooth wrinkles, tighten skin and enhance skin tone. “More and more patients are seeking treatments that are pain-free, low-risk and involve little downtime,” Dr. Au says.

To meet demand, companies have been scrambling to develop increasingly effective, non-ablative technologies that achieve desired – and lasting -- aesthetic results. Clinical studies of these devices have been limited, but experts point to a new generation of radiofrequency and ultrasound systems as having some success in tightening loose facial and neck skin non-surgically.

Skin sagging is part of the normal aging process. It occurs as production of two essential proteins for keeping skin plump, smooth and firm -- collagen and elastin – begins to slow. Aging also causes loss of fat beneath the skin, thereby contributing to changes in skin structure. Both ultrasound and radiofrequency devices allow the dermatologist to transmit targeted energy through the skin to promote collagen remodeling, which results in skin tightening, and induce collage production over time.

Dr. Au uses a relatively new device, the hand-held ThermiSmooth™ laser, with the ThermiRF™ computer, to deliver radiofrequency waves that precisely heat the skin in various areas of the face to create the desired effects.

ThermiSmooth™ was first approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration in December 2015 and is now being used to remove wrinkles and tighten skin under the eyes and around the eyelids, forehead, mouth and neck.

The success of any of these non-surgical procedures, of course, depends on selecting the right candidates, while managing patient expectations, Dr. Au explains.

The “right candidate,” according to the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery, is one, who has only “mild to moderate” skin laxity and wrinkling and does not require more extensive skin lifting and skin removal through cosmetic surgery.

The author of a 2010 article in the Journal of Clinical Aesthetic Dermatology said patients should be aware that the results of these non-surgical, cosmetic approaches oftentimes tend to be more subtle than dramatic and may not take full effect for a period of several months or more. Duration of the skin-tightening effects also is an unknown because of the newness of many of these technologies and lack of long-term clinical data about their effectiveness, the article indicated.

“Patients must realize they will never attain the ‘perfect’ skin – the kind shown in photoshopped magazines. The best we can do is turn back the clock 10, maybe 15, years,” Dr. Au emphasizes.

Meanwhile, her advice to those wanting to maintain that “youthful look” for as long as possible -- “start early.” She offers these tips:
Don’t smoke -- ever.

  • Always wear proper sunscreen outdoors. Sun damage causes premature aging and wrinkling of skin.
  • Regularly apply an oil-free moisturizer to your skin as early as in your 20s.
  • Consider using retinol-based skin-care products several times a week by the time you reach your 30s.
  • As you age, increase use of rich moisturizers; opt for a nondrying cleanser – rather than soap and water – on your face.
  • If wrinkles and saggy skin really bother you, talk to a dermatologist about eliminating the problems when they first appear – in your 40s and 50s. If you do nothing until you are age 60 or older, non-surgical approaches are less likely to achieve the positive, aesthetic results that you seek.

Sonoa Au, MD, is a board-certified physician and a fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology

Advanced Dermatology P.C. and the Center for Laser and Cosmetic Surgery (New York & New Jersey) is one of the leading dermatology centers in the nation, offering highly experienced physicians in the fields of cosmetic and laser dermatology as well as plastic surgery and state-of-the-art medical technologies.

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Melissa Chefec
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