STOP THE CLOCK
We’d all like to look younger than our age and now, thanks to advances in science and technology, you really can roll back the years without going under the surgeon’s knife. Elise Wilson explores the best nonsurgical anti-ageing treatments and the product
– non-surgical anti-ageing treatments that really work
Ageing is a simple and unavoidable fact of life. From the age of 25 the collagen that gives our skin its plump, youthful appearance begins to deplete, leading to an increase in fine lines, wrinkles and a loss of firmness. Our obsession with cheating this genetic fate has spawned a multimillion dollar industry dedicated to developing new ways to turn back the hands of time, from skincare innovations and in-salon treatments all the way to cutting-edge surgical techniques. The happy fact is that today we have more control than ever over how fast we age, or perhaps more crucially, how fast we appear to age.
“The very rapid advances in technology and vast improvement in techniques of non-surgical procedures over the past 20 years means there are increasingly more options for both practitioners and patients to choose from,” says Dr Joanna Romanowska, from Clinic 42 in Auckland. Add to this the fact that non-surgical procedures are lower cost, less invasive and often provide instant results and it’s easy to see why they are rising in popularity.
So, with a multitude of options available, what is the best way to achieve a naturally youthful look and avoid the wind-tunnel effect of a 1980s facelift or the frozen foreheads and overstuffed ‘pillow faces’ of today? The first step is to address the obvious lifestyle factors that speed up the ageing process, such as smoking, drinking, sun damage and poor diet. But beyond this, it might be time to reassess what makes us look older in the first place, says Dr Catherine Stone from Auckland’s The Face Place, who suggests that facial shape and contours are the first thing our subconscious brain picks up – not, in fact, our lines and wrinkles.
“An eye-tracking study has shown that we first look at another person’s eyes and lips, and then their facial shape, which helps us determine their age,” she says. “This process happens subconsciously in a matter of milliseconds, and so improving facial shape plays a significant role in helping you look fresher and more youthful.”
The good news is that improving the contours of your face no longer requires risky surgery as much less invasive treatments today offer equally good, if not better results. “Now with nonsurgical cosmetic options, we can not only prevent some people from investigating surgical options, but we can also treat some of the concerns that surgery doesn’t treat well, like skin texture,” says Dr Stone.
Best of all, no one need know you’ve had anything done, says Dr Romanowska. “The improvement in techniques means that the patient does not need to look ‘done’ or peculiar following a procedure, as long as it has been performed by a well-trained and experienced practitioner.”
With all this in mind, we take a closer look at five non-surgical treatments that promise impressive results, from tightening jowls and toning facial muscles to creating a smooth, elegant neck.
THE SKIN TIGHTENER
Thanks to the likes of Kim Kardashian, the Vampire Facial is a popular treatment worldwide – and now Auckland’s The Face Place has gone a step further to offer the Vampire Facial Plus. The treatment combines e-dermastamp needling with a hydrating hyaluronic acid solution and platelet-rich plasma (PRP) from your own blood cells to induce skin rejuvenation and collagen repair, explains Dr Stone.
The Vampire Facial Plus treats one ‘facial unit’ per session, but it can also be applied to the neck and chest to improve the skin thickness, tautness and texture in these areas. “Mid-face to mid-neck would be one facial unit,” says Dr Stone. “There’s usually leftover PRP, which can be used to treat specific areas of concern, such as the fine crepey skin under the eyes, upper lip lines or scar tissue.”
COST: From $850 per treatment. Most people need a course of three treatments then a top-up every six to 12 months.
The down-turning of the mouth with age gives a ‘down frown’ that can make us look sad or bitter.
THE FAUX FACE LIFT
Did you know that your body has naturally occurring bio-electric currents which can be enhanced to turn back the years? At Caci clinics the Non-surgical Facelift treatment uses these tiny micro-currents to stimulate muscle tone and enhance skin tissue, especially in the face and neck, says Taryn Johnstone, Caci’s national trainer.
During treatment, the skin is first cleansed and toned, then stimulated with two metal handpieces. “Next, we do the ‘reminder stage’ of the treatment – this keeps the muscles in position,” says Johnstone. “The final stage includes a mask to deeply infuse a tailored serum into the skin.”
For optimum results, it’s best to undergo a course of treatments. “Just as if you were using weights to strengthen your muscles at the gym, it doesn’t happen in one session,” says Johnstone. A course typically involves two sessions per week for the first few weeks, then a maintenance session every four to six weeks.
COST: Prices start at $128 for a one-off treatment but reduce when combined with a skin-treatment plan.
THE SUPER HYDRATOR
If dryness and the lacklustre appearance of the skin on your face, neck and chest is your primary concern, consider Clinic 42’s Photo Finish Treatment. “It acts on the texture of the skin rather than changing the contour, making skin feel and look softer, brighter, smoother and more youthful,” says Dr Romanowska.
During the treatment, a combination of moisturising hyaluronic acid and Botox is injected into the skin via a special needling device called the Vital Gun. “This allows very accurate micro-doses to be injected at a very precise superficial depth, diffusing into large areas of the skin,” says Dr Romanowska.
Discomfort is minimal and usually well managed by a topical anaesthetic cream which is applied 45 minutes prior to the treatment. Afterwards, some redness, skin irritation and lumpiness is to be expected for a couple of days, but this can be camouflaged with mineral make-up. “In younger patients, one treatment is sufficient,” says Dr Romanowska. “In someone with sun-damaged, leathery skin, or very thin, papery skin, several treatments are likely to be required to achieve an optimum result.”
Expect to see results within five days to two weeks, including softer, glowing skin, and an improvement in the appearance of fine lines and pores.
COST: $1,100 per treatment, which will cover either your whole face, or neck and décolletage. Results last approximately six months.
THE JOWL MELTER
A smooth, elegant neck has always been a coveted feature – think of the swan-like beauty of Audrey Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor – so if minimising the appearance of bands around your neck and toning a sagging jawline are your aim, look no further than the Nefertiti Lift, available at The Cosmetic Clinic in Auckland. “The name actually refers to the Egyptian princess Nefertiti who was renowned for her long, elegant neck,” say Rosa Guthrie, head of operations and part-owner of The Cosmetic Clinic.
Either Botox or Dysport are injected into multiple sites along the platysma muscles, which run from the lower chin and jaw down the sides of the neck and can be major depressors of the lower face. “The injections are superficial and relatively painless and the product quickly kicks in between three and seven days, relaxing the muscles,” says Guthrie. “Unlike traditional treatments to the frown, forehead or crow’s feet that reduce wrinkles, this treatment focuses on changing facial contouring.”
COST: Prices for the Nefertiti Lift start from $325 and, depending on the dose, you can expect the results to last for three to five months.
THE FILLER UP
Most people associate fillers with tackling deep-set wrinkles, but thanks to new expert techniques, filler can also help to lift and firm the face and jawline. At The Face Place, Dr Stone offers a procedure called The 8 Point Lift – a technique for restoring volume in eight strategic areas, giving maximum lift and support while using a relatively small amount of dermal filler for a natural look. “This technique is ideal for anyone who is starting to notice some skin laxity,” she says. “This could include skin sagging or face ‘dropping’, a tiredlooking under-eye area, or jowls forming along the jawline.”
The procedure involves filler being injected into eight areas, including the cheek bones to subtly plump them up, the midface to reduce the appearance of hollows under the eyes, the nasolabial folds, and the corners of the mouth. “The downturning of the mouth with age gives a ‘down frown’ that can make us look sad or bitter,” says Dr Stone. “Creating some support with dermal filler not only lifts the face, but it makes you look happier too.”
As we age, we lose the squareness or angle of the jaw, which helps to lift and support the lower face, so the lower face starts to fall forward, contributing to jowls and sagging. “Replacing volume in the hollow along the jawline can help to reduce or improve jowls,” says Dr Stone. Finally, treating the buccal area below the cheek bones helps improve the natural curve and structure of the cheek and avoid a gaunt look.
COST: Prices vary depending on how much lifting you need, but expect to pay between $950 and $2,400. Results are instant with minimal discomfort and downtime and can last up to two years.