What's a liquid facelift?
Regardless of what some beauty companies want you to believe, there is no such thing as a cream or lotion that will "lift" or "firm" the skin by applying it to your face. But there are many products that can be injected into the skin and produce dramatic improvements. Many doctors specializing in these products call these treatments "liquid facelifts." Dana Ramos of TheSkinRegime breaks down this new trend for us.
By using a combination of injectable fillers and/or muscle immobilizing products such as Botox, lines can be minimized or erased, and sagging skin lifted and filled out.
"With these injectable products, you can dramatically improve your appearance without the downtime of surgery," explains New York plastic surgeon Dr. David Palaia. "Middle-aged people who have mild jowls, volume loss, vertical lip lines, crow's feet, lines along the side of the nose and chin — sometimes called marionette lines — can benefit greatly. Also, injectable products can correct asymmetries and even those bands in the neck below the chin that become prominent with age."
Collagen injections used to be all the rage, but not anymore, explains Palaia: "It's too reactive. Now, you have much better options, including newer and greatly improved methods of using your own fat."
How long does it last?
Before discussing some of those options — and costs — it's important to know that, with the exception of fat transfers, a "liquid facelift" is not permanent and must be repeated every few months with shorter-acting products, or every couple of years with more long-lasting products. It's also very important to select a physician who will produce a natural look. "Subtlety and moderation are key for great results," Palaia says. "You want to look better, not different. When you see someone who looks 'overdone,' or frozen, they did not have a good doctor. And seeing those bad results makes people think it is the fault of the products."
How drastic are the effects?
"Basically, no one should be able to tell that you had a liquid facelift or any cosmetic work, essentially. You should simply enjoy comments from people such as, 'Wow, you look fantastic, did you lose weight? Did you change your makeup?' You never want to hear someone ask, 'Did you have some work done...?'"
Which product is right for you?
Some of the new fillers with hyaluronic acid — such as Juvederm, Restylane and Belotero — are popular and well-tolerated because the hyaluronic acid is a natural substance in the body, thus less likely to have allergy issues. Those fillers tend to be more expensive than a filler such as Radiesse, but both last eight to 10 months. "There are also many others, such as Sculptra," explains Dr. Palaia, "that cause the body to create its own collagen, and lasts even longer. Each product has a unique set of factors that might make one a better choice for you than another, so a careful consultation with a good physician will determine which is the perfect option for you."
Remember silicone injections? "No one is really using it anymore," Palaia says. "Now there are much better products available." Fat transfers, using a patient's own body fat, also fell off in popularity years ago but have returned to the discussion. "Fat transfers earned a bad reputation because the methods were not as effective, but the newer methods have made it a cost-effective way to permanently fill out an area," says Palaia. Because it is permanent, patients should try temporary options first to be certain they like the look. Also, fat transfer is not an option for the lips, because it doesn't take well to that area.
What about time, costs and risks?
On average, the entire "liquid facelift" takes 15 to 30 minutes, and may cause some swelling and bruising at the injection sites for a day or so. Costs can range from $400 to $1,200 for Botox, and $600 to $1800 for filler injections. The wide range of price has to do with amount of product used. Doctors usually charge per syringe.
Of course, as with anything, there can be complications such as an allergic reaction, a product forming lumps or excess swelling and bruising. In the hands of a skilled doctor who has a lot of experience with these products, your chances of having problems are much reduced. The physician should be your first consideration — not bargain-hunting with prices. Just because you hear of a great deal from a dentist or family doctor offering filler and Botox, doesn't mean they will give you the best results. Think of it this way: Would you go to a plastic surgeon or dermatologist to repair issues with your teeth? So when it comes to aesthetic issues with your skin, choose a highly trained plastic surgeon or dermatologist.