Is it really possible to turn back the clock to recover your former youthful self without major surgery? Can colors and light waves possibly replace harsh chemical peels? Is the rumor true that an injectable “filler” exists right now that lasts practically forever?
Rejuvenation therapies are hurtling into the future at the speed of light, but have the fantasies of science fiction movies actually made it to the real world? The answer is yes, but it’s far from the cold, robotic environments we once imagined. Doctors’ treatment suites are looking more like spas, while spas are getting more medically conscious. Plastic surgeons are incorporating holistic healing therapies into their pre- and post-surgery procedures. They’re even opening their own med-spas.
“As we move into the future,” says aesthetic plastic surgeon Dr. Stanley Gulin, “we’ve developed more refined and precise instruments. We’re achieving greater results in less invasive ways and harnessing the body’s natural healing powers. For example, I use my patients’ own blood platelets during surgery.
“The objective is to look fresh, not tight. Forty years ago, the technique was to simply pull the skin back. Twenty years ago, as plastic surgery evolved, we learned to tighten the tissue underneath before gently redraping the skin. Fifteen years ago, we also began to recognize the need for volume. Today, we take care of the volume first. The tightening part is the icing on the cake.”
And wait till you see how he’s doing it.
Instant glam is no longer somewhere in the next dimension—it’s literally just around the corner.
Fantasy No. 1
The Secret: Permanent Micropigmentation
“Of all the things you can do for yourself, you’ll love this the most.” —Jody Dischler, Effortless Beauty Permanent Cosmetics by Jody Dischler
With maturity, our bodies slow down the production of collagen, elastin and hyaluronic acid—the very things our lips need to keep that youthful volume. They get smaller and thinner, and gravity pulls the corners downward. While I don’t aspire to be the sweet white-haired lady with Angelina Jolie lips, I wouldn’t mind having back that perky little upper lip “cupid’s bow.”
The Scoop: Permanent cosmetics have come out of the tattoo parlor and into the surgical suite. Surgical technician Jody Dischler spent 13 years in the operating room, working with surgeons to camouflage skin imperfections and scars, and re-pigment breasts after cancer surgery. Upon establishing her own practice, she added permanent cosmetics.
“Imagine,” she says, “applying your daytime makeup, perfectly, once—wearing it all day, showering, sleeping and then waking up every morning ready to go. Imagine eyebrows that don’t wash off … eyeliner that doesn’t smudge … lips with color, shape and fullness 24/7!”
The Technology: Micropigment-ation also helps people with poor vision, unsteady hands, or allergies and medical conditions that make it difficult to apply makeup. The procedure is minimally invasive and relatively painless, with topical or local anesthesia used as desired. Jody applies makeup as the template and then does her artistry with a small tattoo tool using medically pure pigments. The results can last up to 10 years.
Details: $800. Effortless Beauty Permanent Cosmetics by Jody Dischler, 261-7817, permanentcosmeticsbyjody.com
Fantasy No. 2
Vaporize Sun Damage
The Secret: Broadband light (BBL) rejuvenation
“Five days after the procedure, my friend awoke with Oreo cookie crumbs on her pillow. Only it wasn’t cookies. It was the last remaining flecks of her freckles and brown spots.” —Brianna Dodd, receptionist,
Sky Med Spa
The Scoop: Chemical peels destroy the top layer of skin but don’t go deep enough to zap those dark spots. Earlier therapies like intense pulsed light and Fraxel lasers have had limited success in their ability to treat only certain shades of damage. Broadband pulsed light is the next generation, targeting both the brown spots and the red pigmentation of rosacea, facial veins and even birthmarks. The treatment works on shoulders, hands, arms and back, but the results on face and chest are sheer magic.
The Technology: Medical aesthetician Lisa Hart practices under the direction of plastic surgeon William Wittenborn. Treatment time: 30 to 45 minutes. While your eyes are covered with a protective mask, you feel a series of zings and see peripheral flashes of light as the wand targets the damaged areas. Brown spots get significantly darker for a few days. It’s not a pretty sight. But slowly they begin to disintegrate, with fewer spots daily until they’re gone. Dramatic results are visible within 15 days, and the skin continues to smooth out for several weeks.
Details: $400. Sky Med Spa, Wittenborn Plastic Surgery, 561-2313, wittenbornmd.com
Fantasy No. 3
The Secret: Fat transfer (injection)
The Scoop: It’s that volume thing again. Dr. Gulin explains: “You can pull the skin all you want, but if you don’t replace lost volume, it will still leave you looking sunken. When we see sunken features, we think, ‘This is what an old person looks like.’ I began using fat transfer in my regular facelift procedures several years ago. It promotes healing by introducing increased blood supply, including stem cells, which are precursor cells. Today, we have the skills and technology to use fat transfer to replace volume in selected areas.
“[Pharmaceutical injectables] Radiesse or Sulptra can last up to 18 months. But your own fat, like a skin graft, actually becomes a part of you. Once it gets a blood supply, it is living tissue.”
The Technology: Fat transfer injection is done in the operating room under twilight sleep sedation. It is far less invasive than traditional liposuction. The fat is usually harvested from the hip area, separated in a centrifuge and slowly injected in liquefied form into the targeted spot.
“Sorry,” Dr. Gulin says, smiling. “I don’t take enough to make a difference, so it’s not free liposuction! This procedure is more precise than liposuction.”
Dr. Gulin also uses fat transfer to correct irregularities—for example, to soften a pointed chin, fix breast deformities or even give those “other” cheeks a more pleasing shape. The so-called Brazilian butt lift also can eliminate depressions caused by excessive liposuction.
The newest and possibly the most exciting application is to restore volume on the hands. No longer will our hands be able to give away our age secrets.
Who would have imagined we’d someday love our own fat?
Details: Starting at $2,500. 596-8000, drgulin.com
Fantasy No. 4
Melt the Fat
The Secret: Zerona, non-invasive cold laser body contouring
The Skinny: You lounge fully clothed on a comfy bed, music optional, while a space-age octopus with glowing red eyes rotates and gyrates over your midsection. Your biggest effort comes after 20 minutes, when you have to roll over onto your stomach. Nap, read, text. Go home. Repeat five times, and—voila —skinny jeans!
Just FDA-approved last year, this laser bio-stimulation doesn’t remove the fat cell. It disrupts the membrane, causing its contents to emulsify and drain out. Herbal supplements containing niacin and ginkgo biloba stimulate the lymphatic system to absorb and release it. Entertainment Tonight’s Leeza Gibbons and other celebs say two weeks of Zerona body contouring has helped them slim down by three to nine inches.
Details: $1,750. Sky Med Spa, 561-2313, wittenbornmd.com
Fantasy No. 5
Vanquish the Veins
The Secret: VeinGogh Ohmic Thermolysis
The Scoop: Impudent little red dots called hermangiomas. Squiggly spider veins. Small hairline veins around the cheeks and nose. Veins tend to creep up on you along with the years. Too small for schlerothe-rapy (saline injections), and stubbornly resisting previous technologies, these small veins on the face, torso and legs have met their match in Dr. Joseph Magnant, who spent 14 years doing arterial surgery before dedicating his practice to veins.
The Magic: If you want instant results, the minimally invasive VeinGogh heat laser is it, he says. Using a hair-thin fiber probe, Dr. Magnant makes that vein disappear before your very eyes. While a topical anesthesia is available, he says, VeinGogh is so comfortable that just talking with the patient as he works is usually all that’s needed.
“Some patients email photos in advance,” he says, “and tell me what they want to accomplish. Fees are by the session and not by the vein. This allows us to get the most from the consult while maximizing the number of treatments in one session.”
Details: Starting at $300. Vein Specialists, 694-8346, weknowveins.com
Fantasy No. 6
The Secret: MoroccanOil
The Scoop: Hairdryers, flat irons, color treatments and chemical-laced products dry the hair and make you look older. Conditioners seem marginally effective. But a new branded product called MoroccanOil, derived from the nut of Morocco’s argan tree, has gone viral in beauty and rejuvenation circles. Packed with vitamin E and essential fatty acids, argan oil has long been used in Europe, Africa and Asia for skin healing.
“I just got back from the Orlando hair show,” says Betty Ann Mighell, owner of Studio 37 Eyelash Extensions and Hair salon in Naples. “The MoroccanOil booth was mobbed. I couldn’t get anywhere near it.
“It strengthens flimsy hair, cuts drying time in half, it smells lovely, makes hair swingy and shiny, extends the life of hair color, hides split ends and calms frizzy hair without weighing it down. Who could possibly not love it?”
Details: $43. Studio 37 Eyelash Extensions and Hair, 263-5434,
Fantasy No. 7
Return to Flexibility
The Secrets: Ashiatsu and Kundalini
Disappearing collagen isn’t the only insult our body suffers with the years. We also begin to lose flexibility and stamina, and our immune systems get lazy. We don’t have to be triathaletes to get it back, says Jennifer Alvarez, owner of Purely You Spa of Naples. We can kick-start our rejuvenation just by breathing and stretching. Really? It’s that easy?
Sign me up!
Yoga: Instant Vitality. Laurie Martin is a certified life coach, newspaper columnist, author of the book Smile Across Your Heart and yoga instructor. It’s only fair to confess that I prefer cardio and dance. I never met a yoga pose I didn’t hate.
“Perhaps that’s because you’ve been given the wrong understanding of yoga, or haven’t found a form that fits you,” Laurie says. “We’re not meant to squeeze into yoga. It’s meant to fit us. Sometimes, ego gets in the way, as in: ‘Look, my hand can touch the floor.’ It’s perfectly fine to use a prop or balance against the wall. Props aren’t cheating—they’re supporting your body.
“Most important is the breathing. Deep breathing can instantly enhance your energy level, circulation, digestion and brainpower. It may be the most effective rejuvenating therapy you can get at any price.”
For me, Laurie recommends the Kundalini form of yoga. “Start with the DVD Dance the Chakras by Ana Brett and Ravi Singh,” she says. “You’ll love it. Let me know how it works for you.”
Ashiatsu: Fancy Footwork.
If your muscles can’t make the stretches on their own, Andrea Bowes can stretch them for you in a combination of Thai massage and Ashiatsu, or Oriental Bar Therapy. You won’t be slumbering through this massage, but it leaves you as relaxed as a fine Asian noodle. Ashiatsu comes from the words ashi (foot) and atsu (pressure). Andrea balances from two bars affixed to the ceiling as her bare feet perform deep-tissue massage on the back and shoulders. At times she’s perched on a stool at your shoulders, using her hands and feet like a two-therapist massage. It’s impossible, with the eyes closed, to distinguish hands from feet. The stretching of Thai massage motivates your body to remember its true capabilities, reminding you that youthful vitality is still there, after all.
Details: $95 yoga. $195 Ashiatsu. Purely You Spa, 331-8266, purelyyouspa.com. Laurie Martin, smileacrossyourheart.com. Andrea Bowes, 200-1569
Fantasy No. 8
Detox and Renew
The Secrets: Irish seaweed and microcurrent light therapy
Michelle Kelthy believes that spas soon will play as important a role as surgery in the rejuvenation process, with the blending of nurturing, technology and holistic therapies. As
director of The Ritz-Carlton Spa, Naples, she’s leading the way.
The Soak: Harness the healing power of seaweed to release toxins caused by stress and fatigue. In your private bath suite, drape yourself in lush purple strands of the living organisms harvested off the coast of Ireland. As you sink into the warm bath where the seaweed has been steeping, positively charged ions in your skin attract the seaweed’s negatively charged ions. Like a magnet, the skin draws the rich nutrients into the bloodstream, where they help remove toxins and regulate your body’s pH balance. You emerge silky-smooth for an application of seaweed oil.
The Ultra: Assuming you’ve indulged in all our fantasies, you’re now de-spotted, detoxed and free of annoying squiggly veins. Your hair shines like a teenager’s. You can flex and stretch like an athlete. Your lips are plump, the hollows in your cheeks vanquished, and you’re on your way to a streamlined body. There’s just one thing left to do: restore that youthful glow to your face.
For this, Ritz-Carlton aesthetician Lindsay awaits, to perform the seriously luxurious, luxuriously serious ultra age-defying facial. This brand-new three-part treatment combines the latest in microcurrent (to awaken and retrain sagging muscles) and phototherapy (to stimulate collagen production) with ultrasonic micro-dermabrasion (sound-activated exfoliation). The technology part is followed by the massage-like applications of serums and moisturizers.
The mirror definitely reflects a new brightness to the skin. But you know for sure that it’s working when the parking valet exclaims, “Oh! Pretty!”
Details: $165 for seaweed.
$375 for ultra. The Ritz-Carlton
Spa, Naples, 514-6100, ritzcarlton.com/naples