Sunday, 22 June 2014

Put your face on: Let's keep it tight

Areas on the face where fillers could help towards a more youthful appearance.

Areas on the face where fillers could help towards a more youthful appearance.

The latest in skin tightening and lifting procedures.

As we age, our skin starts to sag, the fat pads on our cheeks naturally start to droop, and jowls and creases start to reign on our faces. Our skin folds become more prominent and creases deepen.

The ageing process also thins skin cells, which makes our skin appear thinner as well.

Every 10 years, the number of skin cells decreases by 10%. This makes it more difficult to repair any damage to the skin caused by environmental factors like ultraviolet rays, pollution and bad habits like smoking and drinking.

Along with the thinning of skin cells, less collagen is produced, leading to wrinkles and sagging.

In short, we start to resemble Judi Dench in the latest instalment of James Bond movies.

Fear not, my friends. There are various non-surgical options to suit different skin conditions and budgets in the fight against skin sagging and ageing. Whilst all parts of the body start to sag as one ages, most of my clients tend to focus their efforts on their face.

And rightfully so, because when people talk to you, they look and focus on your face. First impressions matter, and most of the impressions are made by how attractive and youthful your face is.

There are various injectable substances that can be used to reduce sagging skin.

A popular material is called hyaluronic acid (HA) dermal filler.

Hyaluronic acid is a substance that is naturally found in the cells of all living organisms. HA in the body provides volume and support to our tissues.

As we age, the amount of HA in the body starts to deplete. Aesthetic doctors are able to inject bio-identical HA fillers into saggy areas lacking volume, such as the laugh lines (the folds next to our mouth), cheeks, temples, under the eyes, neck, hands and so on.

HA is a viscous gel-like substance that has the ability to draw water, thus volumising and lifting the treated area.

Most of the results are apparent immediately after injection, but the best results come about two weeks post-injection when the treated area becomes better hydrated and plumper with water.

HA dermal fillers can last up to one and a half years, depending on the molecular structure of the particular product and the site of injection.

The best thing about HA dermal fillers is the procedure can be easily reversed. In the unlikely event you do not like the results, your aesthetic doctor can inject an enzyme called hyaluronidase, which instantly melts off the injected HA.

Newer injectable materials have since come up since the advent of HA. Called poly-L-lactic acid (PLLA), this anti-ageing injection gives you subtle results over time.

PLLA works by stimulating our own body to produce collagen. Within the deeper layers of the skin called the dermis, your skin’s structure is reinforced as PLLA helps to replace lost collagen.

This reinforced collagen structure provides a foundation that gradually restores the fullness over areas with wrinkles and folds. Up to four sessions spaced one month apart are needed for best results.

Unlike HA, PLLA results are gradual because the body needs time to produce collagen.

And this is a good thing, because your appearance will improve slowly and naturally without anybody needing to know that you had an aesthetic procedure done.

PLLA results tend to last longer, up to two years. However, there is a small risk of nodule formation underneath the skin due to aggregation of the injected material at a particular spot. This can be minimised by massaging the injected area five times a day for five minutes, for five days post-injection.

A long pulse Nd:YAG laser is an effective arsenal employed by your friendly neighbourhood aesthetic physician to heat the collagen underneath the skin, causing the skin to contract and tighten.

The laser creates a beam of high-intensity light that penetrates deep into skin tissue, where it delivers a controlled amount of targeted therapeutic heat.

This 15-minute procedure has minimal downtime, redness or swelling, and carries none of the risk of surgery or injections as it is a non-invasive procedure.

Because of the lesser risks of side effects compared to face-lift surgery, lasers are one of the more popular treatments amongst clients wanting to turn back the hands of time.

Six or more sessions are usually needed for best results. Obviously, older patients with deeper creases and more sagging will need more treatments compared to their younger brethen.

Best results are usually seen approximately six months after the last laser session. Results last two years or so.

Besides lasers, radiofrequency (RF) machines can also be used to tighten the skin.

High frequency radiowaves heat the dermis and collagen fibres of the skin, causing skin contraction and tightening.

Additionally, the heating activates cells called fibroblasts to produce new collagen and elastin fibres.

Improvement gradually appears within two months and are completed six months after the last RF session. Four to eight sessions done once a week is ideal.

All ages and all skin types are suitable for this treatment.

Another exciting option for tightening the skin is called thread lift. No, these are not the same threads used to make your baju kurung or cheongsam.

The threads used for aesthetic purposes are made of soluble polydioxanone (PDO), which is a material that has been used in surgery for a great number of years.

Research has shown that PDO stimulates the neocollagenesis process, which encourages the production of new collagen in the skin.

PDO also stimulates the synthesis of elastin and hyaluronic acid in the skin, both of which are vital for keeping the skin looking plump and youthful.

The PDO thread is inserted into the skin through a very fine needle to ensure minimal swelling, bruising or redness.

Depending on the area to be treated, the thread is introduced into either the skin itself, the subcutaneous fat, or the muscle.

A lifted appearance can be seen instantly after the half-hour procedure. However, the improvements continue over the next few months as new collagen is produced.

The overall texture of the skin is improved; it becomes thicker, tighter and firmer – wrinkles and fine lines are thus smoothened away.

Different lengths and thicknesses of thread are used for different areas of the face.

Shorter strands of threads can be used for more sensitive areas such as under the eyes, whereas thicker strands can be used on the forehead, cheeks or chin.

Longer threads can correct and lift the neck and jawline. The threads are naturally absorbed by the body in six months, and results can last up to two years.

Dr Chen Tai Ho is an experienced aesthetic doctor who chills by the pool sipping espresso latte when he’s not attending to his beloved patients. For further information, e-mail The information provided is for educational and communication purposes only and it should not be construed as personal medical advice. Information published in this article is not intended to replace, supplant or augment a consultation with a health professional regarding the reader’s own medical care. The Star does not give any warranty on accuracy, completeness, functionality, usefulness or other assurances as to the content appearing in this column. The Star disclaims all responsibility for any losses, damage to property or personal injury suffered directly or indirectly from reliance on such information.

Tags / Keywords: Opinion , Lifestyle , column , skin tightening lifts


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