Plastic surgery is more popular than ever, with improved technology making procedures faster and more safe than in the past.
While those in the market for cosmetic enhancement might want to tighten, tone and firm certain parts of their bodies, not all patients are ready to commit to permanently altering their appearance. Others don't have the time or money to invest in, and then recuperate from, surgery. Still others might be afraid of the prospect altogether.
These days, plenty of patients are opting for non-surgical treatments that can help you improve your appearance.
There are lots of options for people who don’t want surgery, says New York City-based plastic surgeon Dr. Michelle Copeland. “While they don’t give the same results as surgery, they can make you look and feel better." Electing to take smaller steps instead of jumping into surgery is a good way to maintain your appearance.
We asked several experts to break down some of the non-surgical options for two of the more popular surgical choices: the facelift and the tummy tuck.
Facelift“For the first time ever, we can achieve significant lifting and trigger new collagen growth by focusing energy deep into the foundation, below the skin that is addressed in surgery, as well as into the skin itself,” says Dr. Stafford Broumand, a New York City-based plastic surgeon.
How? Through an ultrasound technique known as Ulthera, which Broumand describes as a “preliminary step toward a face lift.”
The treatment is ideal for “patients with laxity to their skin” who are “looking for preventative care,” Broumand says. Those who opt for Ulthera should expect to see results within 90 days and experience little-to-no recovery time, although some slight redness or bruising might occur.
Another option for reducing the signs of aging without going under the knife is a treatment known as a “liquid facelift.”
It involves several non-surgical treatments including Botox and Dysport, along with soft tissue fillers Juvederm and Radiesse, to “lessen wrinkles, lift the brow, erase smile lines, and fill in facial depressions,” says Dr. James Marotta, a plastic surgeon based on New York’s Long Island.
According to Marotta, “anyone with signs of aging and can see dramatic improvement” following the procedure and recovery time is minimal.
Even those with advanced signs of aging may be able to turn back the clock with certain laser treatments.
“Lasers like the Ultrapulse CO2 laser and chemical peels can also tighten the skin and diminish wrinkles significantly without surgery,” Marotta says. Patients opting for laser treatments may experience longer recovery times, from a few days to a few months, depending on the depth of treatment, Marotta says.
Despite the longer recovery time, “laser and chemical peels can benefit even individuals with advanced signs of aging,” Marotta says.
Tummy TuckTo lose stubborn tummy fat without going under the knife, Broumand recommends a procedure known as CoolScupting, which targets stubborn fat using controlled cooling.
During the treatment, “fat cells become crystallized, die, then are naturally eliminated from your body,” Broumand explains.
Sound too good to be true? According to Broumand, “the majority of people see a noticeable reduction after just one treatment.”
CoolSculpt works best on those patients looking to get rid of localized areas of fat. There is little-to-no recovery time, although some patients may experience some numbness following treatment.
Aside from CoolScupt, Copeland suggests a treatment known as Thermage, which uses radiofrequency to help tighten the skin, as well as Zerona, which uses light energy to shrink fat cells. According to Copeland, patients can use between three and five inches within two weeks.
However, not all surgeons are convinced that these procedures are as effective as surgery. “I’ve yet to see a non-invasive procedure that gives you the same effect or long-lasting results as a tummy tuck,” says Dr. Edward Miranda of Pacific Plastic Surgery Group in San Francisco.
Copeland also points out that traditional surgical options have become “quicker and faster than ever before so even a tummy tuck can be done as an outpatient and often without general anesthesia.”
Things to RememberOpting for a non-surgical treatment does not mean you that cannot undergo a similar surgical procedure down the road, Copeland assures us.
Broumand adds that the decision to alter your appearance is an important one and should be made with a doctor who both understands and respects your wishes.
As he says, no matter what procedure you choose, "people won't be able to tell if it's done well."