On a recent chilly afternoon in Los Angeles, during a baby shower at the Chateau Marmont hotel, makeup artist Amy Holiber picked up a glass of Champagne and gazed around the penthouse suite. “There were about three dozen women there, all of them forty-something mothers, from different backgrounds and income levels,” recalls Holiber, 43. “I was just thinking how young everyone looked when a friend of mine—a physician’s assistant who works in a dermatologist’s office—walked up. ‘There are only two people in this room who haven’t touched their faces,’ she whispered.
“Once she pointed out those women, I noticed the difference in their faces,” Holiber says. “The weird thing was that I couldn’t detect that the others had had work done. They just looked really good.”
Want your face to look younger without the world taking insta-note? Your odds of success have never been better. Right now the world of facial reshaping (the preferred term of industry professionals) is undergoing a revolution, says Manhattan plastic surgeon Scott Wells.
For starters, many current treatments result not just in cosmetic changes to your face but also in long-term improvements in your skin, with the result that it ages more slowly. Here’s how it works: Fillers like Restylane, Juvéderm, Radiesse and Perlane soften lines, restore lost volume and put pressure on fibroblasts in the skin to stimulate collagen production. Lasers and noninvasive treatments like Ulthera (which heats the deeper layers of the skin using focused ultrasound) and Thermage (which uses radio--frequency waves but doesn’t go as far down) also spur new collagen. Botox injections, which freeze wrinkles, can stop strong lines from ever forming. The result? Many women aren’t signing up for face-lifts at 50 anymore; instead, they’re focusing on maintenance through less invasive treatments, starting in their thirties and forties. “Now you do surgery when everything else doesn’t work,” says Fredric Brandt, MD, a dermatologist with practices in Manhattan and Miami.
One reason maintenance is now the main event is that doctors have learned a lot about what time actually does to the skin. For example, they know that certain parts of the face lose volume fasterthan others. Consider the area around the nose and mouth, where deflation leads to deeper nasolabial folds (from the nose to the corners of the mouth) and marionette lines (from the corners of the mouth to the chin). In the past, doctors compensated by plumping up the lips, which sometimes left the patient with an overly full “trout pout,” or by filling in the wrinkles, creating a Planet of the Apes effect that made the lower face heavier rather than more youthful. Today the most influential dermatologists soften the nasolabial folds and lift jowls by placing injections at the temples and the edges of the cheeks, which pulls up the skin on the lower half of the face, unfolding the creases around the nose and mouth.
“That’s the new trend,” explains L.A. dermatologist Karyn Grossman. “Doctors have gotten carried away with plumping up the apples of the cheeks; that look screams injection, because it makes your eyes seem hollow. But filling in the edges of the face gives you fullness without making you look ‘done.’ ”
The goal of the “natural” trend is a face with movement and a few age-appropriate lines. But the treatment options can be dizzying, and then there are the risks. Why do some women come out looking like well-rested, airbrushed versions of themselves, while others—many of them smart, rich, resourceful women—appear windswept, overfilled or otherwise unartfully rearranged? If your idea of “natural” is the face you were born with, helped by good products and all the sleep you can get, then you don’t need answers to these questions. But if you think you might go down this path, now or someday, find out here how to end up looking like yourself, only better.
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