Toxins, Fillers and Lasers…Oh My! How do I Choose?

The most recent statistics from the American Society for Plastic Surgeons confirm that the trend towards non-surgical options continues. We are a society of instant gratification and clearly, surgery means recovery and down time. Toxins, fillers and lasers have been the foundation and remain at the forefront of the movement towards non-surgical cosmetic solutions. They are reliable, time tested and continually improving.

Toxins (scary but generic term that encompasses the first wrinkle reducer we will talk about) are used to treat lines and wrinkles due to muscle activity. The common ones are the 11’s between the brows, forehead lines and the crow’s feet by the eyes. There are currently three FDA approved toxins available in the United States: Botox, Dysport and Xeomin. The active component is the same. All the studies that have been performed prove that they all have similar onset, results, duration and safety profiles. Many patients every year come to the office interested in toxins but afraid because of the association with botulism. With appropriate dosing, they are safer than having a bottle of Tylenol in your medicine cabinet. In spite of that, the results speak for themselves. A skilled injector who is good at reading faces can reduce excessive lines, reshape a face and maintaing dynamic expression before you can finish reciting your ABC’s. The results will last about four months on average, but your skin will love you because it has been free of the stress that regular movement places on it.

If you think toxins are powerful, Fillers can be true wrinkle erasers. The two together are even more effective! The array of fillers is ever evolving and many new options are on the horizon. I recall the early days of collagen and the great but short lived results. Now we have hyaluronic acids (Restylane, and Juvederm product lines), plus calcium hydroxyapatite (say that three times fast) which is Radiesse and poly-L-lactic acid (the names keep getting better) or Sculptra for pan facial volume restoration. With all the direct to consumer marketing about treating our parentheses (naso-labial folds) it is hard to know which filler is best. They all have their place and unique properties that make them better for different concerns. The most common “complication” is under-treatment due to budgetary constraints but a desire to treat multiple areas with clearly not enough product. Once again, an expert injector with a keen eye for detail should guide a patient so that they can get the most improvement for the dollar spent. On average, most fillers last about nine to twelve months.

Finally we come to the lasers. The three options together are a rejuvenation trifecta. I hear all the time that a patient was taking a selfie and all of a sudden noticed a little waddle under the chin, jowls, or spots that they hadn’t seen before. The damage from sun and other stressors unfortunately do not show up for years. Lasers can help restore the elasticity and tone to the skin as well as reduce the brown spots and redness that often accompanies the aging process. IPL and ResurFX are two lasers that do not typically require any recovery or down time, but treat a wide range of concerns. Multiple treatments are required, but they are very effective and may be used on most skin types. Fractional lasers come with recovery time, but more dramatic results. Clear and Brilliant, ActiveFX, DeepFX and TotalFX are some of the most effective fractional treatments available. Your skin type, concerns, particular issues and tolerance for recovery will dictate what is best for you.

Before ResurFX

After ResurFX

Photos courtesy of Matteo Tretti Clementoni, M.D.

All of us look at ourselves very differently than anyone else will ever look at us. We see the imperfections that no one else sees. Thankfully there are reliable, non-surgical options for these concerns. It is apparent that starting early holds back the hands of time and dismisses the wrinkles that would have appeared. Starting early or late is up to the individual, but when you are at a class reunion or family gathering and everyone around you looks significantly older, a flicker of internal happiness will glow through and you will be thanking yourself.

Most importantly, see a board certified physician in one of the three primary specialties: plastic surgery, dermatology, or facial plastic surgery, if you are considering any of these treatments.

If you have any questions, or want to schedule an appointment to receive your non-surgical treatment, contact West End Plastic Surgery or give us a call at 202-785-4187. Looking forward to hearing from you!


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