Time was when non-surgical treatments cost a lot, suckered a lot of time and the results were questionable. But things have changed. “There is no question that non-surgical procedures are far better than they were ten years ago and the evolution continues,” says Amanda Morgan, editor of Aesthetics Journal.
That said, topical Botox has been talked about for aeons yet is still said to be at least 18 months off. “It is a very exciting concept, but the big question is will it work?” asks Ms Morgan, while millions of foreheads frown with anticipation.
But back to the here and now, and a slew of breakthrough treatments that are creating a buzz – because they do what they claim. Here are some of the best…
1. MICRO-NEEDLING PATCHES FOR CROW’S FEET
Following research at the National University of Singapore, which succeeded in encapsulating collagen in minuscule needles in an adhesive patch to deliver ingredients far into the dermis, UK medical technology firm Innoture has developed a home-use micro-needling patch that is due out this November. The patches are coated with plastic needles less than half a millimetre in length, and used with a hyaluronic acid serum this technology will help correct fine lines and wrinkles around the outer eye. According to Innoture, when applied to the skin these painlessly create tiny micro-channels in the epidermis. Results from an eight-week independent trial among 32 women, aged 35 to 55, showed a 35 per cent reduction in fine lines and wrinkles. An outside take? “Innoture is an intriguing new technology, and drug delivery for application in both medical and cosmetic practice is the next frontier,” says cosmetic surgery expert Wendy Lewis.
2. MICROWAVES FOR UNDERARM PERSPIRATION
Move over Botox, miraDry, a treatment for excessive sweating, is now available as a cosmetic treatment. “It is able to stop underarm sweating completely and is the most effective treatment available for people who suffer from hyperhidrosis,” says cosmetic dermatologist David Eccleston, who specialises in the subject. miraDry works by delivering electromagnetic energy or microwaves to where sweat glands are located in the underarm area. “This heats the sweat glands and eliminates them for good,” he says. The treatment lasts an hour with minimal down time, although ten days is given for full recovery. Soreness or swelling, and possibly small lumps and some bruising, are the potential side effects. “Some patients have temporary altered sensation in their under arm, which gradually disappears,” Dr Eccleston adds. Perhaps small fry for extra body confidence?
3. NEW THREAD LIFT
Deep breath – the thread lift is back. But gone are the days of visible lines and puckering. The latest lifts use super-fine filaments so give a more natural result. A new treatment, due in November, developed by cosmetic aesthetician Terry Loong combines the thread lift with platelet-rich plasma (PRP) from a patient’s own blood. The threads are fed through a minute opening at the temple via a cannula [a hollow needle] and PRP is injected into the cannula as the threads are passed through. “The PRP acts like a project manager,” says Dr Loong. “It increases circulation in the area and has growth factors so attracts fibroblasts [skin cells] and elastin to the area; it also reduces swelling and recovery time.”
4. COMBINATION EYE TREATMENTS
If a number of problems around the eye area are the issue, the trend for using several procedures for one area is particularly promising. “It is exciting,” says Ms Morgan. The eyes are a very different area from the rest of the body and respond to a combination approach.” Dr Maryam Zamani combines ultrasound, Botox and filler for her Tri Eye Rejuvenation treatment. Starting with Ultherapy, the US FDA-approved ultrasound device, to lift the brow and improve fine lines, she applies Botox a week later for frown lines and crow’s feet, then filler for deeper creases and to lift the brows. Results are immediate and ongoing as it takes two to three months to see the effects of the Ultherapy. Her Tri Eye Transformation is a combination laser therapy for red or blue vessels around the eyes where she twins two lasers with filler a day later for under-eye bags and temples.
Dr Sabrina Shah-Desai targets under-eye circles and puffy eyelids in a two to four-step tailored regimen. It incorporates the lightest application of filler for the tear trough area, Botox, then radiofrequency or ultrasound for instant tightening and a longer-term collagen boost. She also uses clinically tested topicals to prepare and help heal before and after.
5. LASER TATTOO REMOVAL
There is a typo in the lyrics on Jessie J’s hip and David Beckham’s wife’s name, tattooed in Hindi, is apparently misspelt. Some 39 per cent of 2,000 people, recently polled by Syneron-Candela, regret their tattoo, with Angelina Jolie, Eva Longoria and Heidi Klum having their ex’s names removed. But how? Laser is high on the agenda. “We have seen a big upswing [in laser removal of tattoos] in the last year,” says laser specialist Jo Martin, of the Mapperley Park Clinic in Nottingham. Indeed Lynton Lasers, the makers of Q-Plus C Laser, has seen figures double in the last year with clients who have requested tattoo removal a day or two after they have got their tattoo and before the skin has even healed post-ink. The laser of the moment is the PicoWay. It uses ultra-short, picosecond pulses of high-energy heat, 100 times shorter than the former gold standard Q-switch lasers. It works two to three times faster, requires fewer treatments and causes less skin damage, so healing is supposedly quicker. But it isn’t the ultimate cure-all. Of PicoWay, Dr Martin says: “The two newer versions of this laser, from Cutera and Lynton, have both a Q-switched and a picosecond laser. This suggests that there are times when what some may consider to be old technology is actually better for the job in hand.”
6. DOUBLE CHIN JAB
Fat dissolving ingredient Kybella is creating a stir in the United Sates. And no wonder as it has just received FDA approval for double chins. But this new injectable has its detractors. “Kybella requires multiple treatments and a lot of needle sticks,” says Ms Lewis. There is down time with swelling lasting for five days. “For patients who have a hefty amount of fat that may require six treatments, it may not be ideal,” she says. Ms Lewis suggests liposuction under the chin as a possible alternative. “It is a 20-minute procedure and may make more sense in those cases,” she says.
7. NON-SURGICAL BODY CONTOURING
Liposuction is the gold standard for fat removal, yet it is invasive and requires down time. Then, while great for a lunchtime fix, non-surgical options have failed to meet expectations. However, this is changing. “The promises are good and you see good results after a treatment,” says Ms Morgan. “But to get where you want to be, there is more than one treatment and the cost mounts up,” she points out. A new fat-busting laser device, SculpSure, may go some way to address this and has just received FDA clearance for fat reduction. Like similar treatments, it uses laser heat to break down fat, but takes less time without loss on efficacy. Then there is Velashape, also FDA approved, which uses infrared, radio frequency and suction to contour and encourage fat metabolism. Cryotherapy or CoolSculpting is another option; it freezes fat which the body then naturally eliminates. The popularity of each is growing as the technology is fine-tuned and practitioners become more experienced.
8. SOFT-LOOK FILLER
The new filler on the radar is Teosyal RHA (rheteric hyaluronic acid) that promises a softer effect. Cosmetic doctor Frances Prenna Jones, who already offers it at her clinic, says: “It is not a volume replacement for every case, but brilliant if the filler needs to look very soft and natural, and have more elasticity to it.” It has caught the eye of experts Stateside even though it isn’t yet FDA approved. “I think it could be very beneficial in the cheek area and around the mouth especially – areas of the face where there is more movement and that can sometimes look more injected,” she says. For those put off by the angular look some fillers can give to the face, this is surely a preferable alternative.