Getting shots as a kid used to be the worst thing about going to the doctor. Vaccinations and IM injections of antibiotics struck fear in most young patients, but the beneficial outcomes, in spite of the tears, made these unpleasant procedures worthwhile and important, because our moms said so. They continue to be to this day.
Interestingly, the needle and syringe are now 2 of the most important tools we use in the delivery of cosmetic surgery and medicine. In a world filled with high-tech machinery, lasers, robots, and surgical instruments, these 2 low-tech, simple tools allow us to perform very effective and safe aesthetic improvements to the face and body, competing heavily with plastic surgery procedures. Nonsurgical cosmetic procedures are on the rise and are clearly outpacing surgical procedures year after year. So, what are the 8 ways a needle and syringe can be used to improve your look in 2017?
- Neuromodulators: BOTOX®, Dysport® and Xeomin® are all neuromodulators. They are popular with my Spokane and Coeur d’Alene patients, as they block nerve impulses to specific muscle groups in the face that crease the skin. The result is a smoothing effect, lifting of the brows, and occasionally the additional effect of diminishing headaches.
- Fillers: There are multiple injectable fillers on the market. The most popular of these are the HA, or hyaluronic acid, fillers. Name brands include: JUVÉDERM VOLUMA®, JUVÉDERM® Ultra, JUVÉDERM®, JUVÉDERM® VOLLURE™, JUVÉDERM VOLBELLA®, Restylane® Lyft, Restylane®, Restylane® Silk, Restylane® Defyne, and Restylane® Refyne. As we age, we all lose volume in specific areas of the face. The volume loss comes from a slow atrophy of fat, muscle, and bone that give us 3-dimensional structure. These dermal fillers, or soft tissue fillers, are designed to replace this deflation and re-suspend the support structures of the face, resulting in a more youthful appearance. The great thing about fillers is the result is immediate.
- Fat Transfer: Yes, your own fat can now be moved from one area of your body to another. Current techniques have shown good improvement in the survival of the transferred fat. Loss of the transferred fat in a few months was the criticism of earlier attempts at the procedure. Patients in the past would either have a transient result, due to the loss of the fat that didn’t survive, or, because of this phenomenon, were overfilled in anticipation of some fat loss — and had inadvertent survival of too much fat, ending up looking like a cabbage patch doll. Fat processing and survival are much better, and this technique is becoming much more popular for the face, natural breast augmentation using fat transfer, and the Brazilian butt lift, which involves extensive liposuction of the waist, hips and legs, and fat transfer to the buttocks. One word: Kardashian.
- PRP — Platelet Rich Plasma: PRP use in cosmetic medicine and plastic surgery practices is exploding. The concept behind the procedure has been used in orthopedic surgery for 15 years. We have cells and proteins circulating in our blood that help us heal. Specifically, platelets adhere to areas of injury and release numerous substances to promote the complex healing process. PRP is made by drawing 22 cc of the patient’s own blood, spinning it in a test tube in a centrifuge to separate the red blood cells, and keeping the plasma and a very high concentration of platelets. The PRP is applied topically to the skin and then introduced into the skin from the surface by microneedling or an ablative CO2 laser to allow the plasma and platelets to soak in, and work their restorative and healing magic. The entire face can be treated in this way, and is also known as the Vampire Facial®. The PRP can also be injected below the skin and used in conjunction with the HA fillers (see above) to create volume while simultaneously rejuvenating the skin from below. PRP can also be injected under the scalp to treat hair loss in both men and women. A Vampire Breast Lift® is accomplished by injecting PRP in the breast and décolletage, creating skin rejuvenation and tightening. Last but not least, PRP can be used to improve and enhance sexual function. The O-Shot® for women is designed to enhance sexual health by increasing blood flow and rebuilding tissue in the clitourethrovanginal complex (CUV), improving orgasm and urinary incontinence. The Priapus or P-Shot® for men uses PRP to also increase blood flow for erectile dysfunction (ED), treat Peyronie’s disease, and can enhance size as well.
- Sculptra®: Poly-L-lactic acid is the substance that makes up the bulk of dissolvable suture material used in surgery. Sculptra is a powder form of this substance, which is reconstituted in water and injected into areas for volume and collagen stimulation. It stimulates a healing response and creates volume, to improve overall skin appearance and quality. We call it fertilizer for your face.
- KYBELLA®: There has been a resurgence of an injectable fat dissolving treatment. Deoxycholic acid is the active ingredient in KYBELLA. Popular between 2005 and 2008, lipodissolve was a similar substance that became popular as a body contour fat melting injection procedure. Reformulated, and extensively studied and FDA approved, KYBELLA injections in the submental chin and neck fat is a minimally invasive cosmetic procedure designed to improve fullness of the “selfie neck.”
- Microneedling: This popular skin rejuvenation procedure involves a pen-like device with multiple small needles oscillating into the skin at adjustable depth settings. Used in conjunction with PRP (see Vampire Facial above), this minimally invasive procedure is extremely popular with patients looking for repair of sun damage and aging skin.
- Subcision: Needles can be used to improve the appearance of surgical, traumatic, and acne scars. The needle is passed under the scar, effectively incising and releasing the scar. This blends the appearance of the skin and helps match the scar to its surroundings.