Plastic surgeons used to be synonymous with going under the knife. Not anymore.
Today, as patients search for easier ways to perfect their skin, there are more non-invasive treatments than ever. Read on to find out how you can get that glow without going under.
Heading into her 27th year in practice, McLean Plastic Surgery’s Dr. Gloria Duda recalled giving a talk early in her career about the latest skin treatment trends in the field. “It’s an interesting topic because the beauty industry is a million-dollar industry,” she says. “Everyone wants to look good. Everyone wants to always look their best and their youngest.”
Back then, the concept, she says, was, “We are surgeons. We cut and that’s what we do.” There weren’t many non-invasive treatments available, but she spoke about medical grade skin care, which could improve the appearance of skin without going under the knife.
But, at the time, for further enhancement, restoration—i.e. surgery—would be needed.
But, times have changed and today there are more non-invasive treatments than ever—some great, some flash-in-the-pan trendy. Duda makes sure to stay abreast of the latest trends because patients call frequently about what they hear on the news or read on social media and in magazines. “Not everything that comes out works and [the trend] lasts for about six months, and then it is gone and then a new trend starts,” she says.
But, she says, there are a few enduringly reliable methods that doctors and their patients continue to come back to. Treatments like chemical peels, Botox and injectable fillers have been popular for many years now. “Things that are tried and true that do work, stay,” Duda says.
Beyond the Botox, Duda and her fellow Northern Virginia-based plastic surgeons have a few other of-the-moment, non-invasive treatments on their radars.
Duda says the combination therapy of platelet-rich plasma (PRP) and microneedling is making waves, not just in the plastic surgery world, but across the medical community.
“This is something that is not just hot in plastic surgery,” Duda says. “If you talk to the orthopedist, the gynecologist, it is a hot topic that is in almost all specialties at this point.”
How does it work? A vial of a patient’s blood is extracted and centrifuged, leaving only a concentration of platelet-rich plasma protein, which is then injected back into the skin for rejuvenation. Microneedling utilizes dozens of tiny needles on a roller to gently stimulate the production of collagen.
“Everyone is different as far as their downtime, so what we tell our patients is to expect some swelling—maybe for two or three days,” Duda says. “After two or three days, they can cover with makeup so they are OK to be out in public.”
Dr. Roberta Gartside of New Image Plastic Surgery in Reston uses a combination of microneedling and radiofrequency over several treatments about a month apart to make her patients’ skin glow. “Microneedling by itself works fine,” she says. “The trauma of puncturing the skin sets off a healing reaction to start your body to produce more collagen.”
The radiofrequency targets deeper tissues. “It’s a controlled burn that also stimulates the body’s repair system to start to produce more collagen and elastic fibers. They are using the combination of those two things—the microneedling and the radiofrequency— to deliver heat.”
Dr. James Bruno of Bruno|Brown Plastic Surgery, with locations in Dulles, Annandale and Chevy Chase, Maryland, has been using BodyTite on his patients, in combination with a touch of liposuction. Utilizing radiofrequency, BodyTite is a minimally invasive body contouring procedure that helps to tighten and improve skin’s appearance, and increases the collagen and elastin. “You get the contour change, but you also get the skin changes to improve (appearance),” he says. The in-office procedure may be done all over the body, including arms, abs, neck and thighs, with minimal downtime when you wear a compression garment.
Putting Your Skin First
Although skin is the largest organ of the body, people often treat the vessel poorly, says Duda. “If you want to look your best throughout your life, it is best to take care of your skin early,” she says. Sun damage—which causes early wrinkles, brown discoloration and skin cancer—is one of the biggest offenders, causing people to look much older than their chronological age.
“The more sun damage you have accumulated through your life, the collagen and the elastic fibers are going to degrade,” Gartside says. “You are going to get a lot more wrinkles. Your DNA in your skin is not going to be able to repair itself as well and that is where the skin cancers come in.”
Bruno says that we cannot change the hereditary and genetics of our skin.
“Some [factors are] pre-set, but there are a lot of [procedures in plastic surgery] we can do to alter the aging of the skin and slow down the aging so we retain more youthfulness.”
Taking the Plunge
Gartside notes most people have been thinking about plastic surgery for at least two years before they make their first appointment. “You want to be sure it’s what you want to do,” she says. “You can be concerned about the risks and recovery, but you want to be sure it is something you want to do and if you are not sure, don’t do it. Go with your gut.”
Bruno advises patients ask for before and after pictures of clients and try to find a friend, family member or acquaintance who can give you their firsthand experience.
All three doctors recommend going to a board-certified plastic surgeon. “We, as specially trained plastic surgeons, end up seeing the complications from other doctors in the area that are not truly certified plastic surgeons,” Duda says.
Adds Gartside, “Don’t go to a board-certified family practitioner for your tummy tuck.”