The cover story on June’s issue of Time magazine claimed that younger generations expect to tweak and tuck because cosmetic surgery procedures have become the ‘new normal’.
Is this just another of the many permutations that cosmetic surgery is going through and, in the future, we’ll actually see a swing towards avoiding the knife altogether? Since aesthetics have become big business, attitudes towards ‘beauty’ and, in particular, ‘youth’ and how to achieve these ideals have changed.
In the 1980s, facelifts got a bad name. Men and women were keen to avoid the tell-tale wind tunnel effect as skin was pulled and lifted. Non-surgical alternatives, such as Botox and dermal fillers, grew in popularity, variously dubbed the ‘lunchtime facelift’ or ‘liquid lift’, as they seemed to promise a great outcome with minimal downtime. However, the promised results often veered into frozen faces and pillow cheeks, neither of which looked particularly youthful.
Understanding the ageing process
As our knowledge of how the face ages has grown, we have adapted our surgical procedures to match. Often a judicious combination of surgical and non-surgical procedures are required to produce the best result.
Lines and wrinkles: the most commonly-sited ageing concern, lines and wrinkle start can start forming in your twenties and can be exacerbated by smoking, sun damage and environmental factors. However, not all wrinkles are the same.
Dynamic wrinkles are so-called because they are the results of the movement of the muscles underneath the skin. They are commonly found around the eyes in the form of crows feet and on the forehead as frown lines. In these particularly expressive areas, as the muscles continually contract and relax, folds can form in the overlying skin. A surgical facelift won’t target these dynamic wrinkles – instead, muscle relaxing injections in the form of Botox are an effective solution.
Volume loss: lines that form around the nose, mouth, and down to the chin are commonly a result of loss of structure in the cheek area. We lose volume in this area and this presents as flat cheeks and folds of skin appearing on the lower part of the face. The modern-day techniques of facelifting aim to reposition the structures of the face to create a more youthful appearance and we can combine this with temporary dermal fillers or fat transfer to restore volume.
Commonly, you’ll also see a loss of definition in the jawline and even the development of jowls – a surgical tightening of the jawline is really the only way to restore and rejuvenate this area, whatever the various skin tightening devices on the market claim.
The future of beauty
The one thing we can’t do with surgical or non-surgical aesthetic procedures is restore the skin of your youth, but maybe this is something that will be a possibility in the future. Recently, leading global cosmetics company L’Oreal just announced it was going into partnership with Organovo, a San Diego-based bioprinting company, to produce human skin with 3D printers. The possibilities for reconstructive work, such as burns reconstruction, or aesthetics are highly interesting.