New Year, New You By Dr Harold Ma
The start of a new year brings new resolutions, fresh beginnings and for most of us, a desire to look and feel better because really, no one is spared from the ravages of time. In this New Year’s edition, I share with you the 4 D’s when it comes to ageing - Deflation, Descent, Deterioration, Dehydration –and importantly, what can be done to combat it.
Deflation: our skin starts to deflate from very early on, but especially so once we hit 30. All the goodness of youth: the moisture in our skin, the collagen, even our baby fats and bone (yes bone!), are deflating like a leaky balloon. As a result, we start to look tired, aged and sunken. Wrinkles start to appear. The solution? Reinflate the face with fillers. Much like reinflating a balloon that has lost air, fillers are a safe and popular way to erase lines and sunken areas. With almost no downtime, one can expect an instantly rejuvenated face. There are currently no alternatives to fillers if one is looking to turn back the clock on those sunken cheeks and temples and the under-eye hollows. There are a few main categories of fillers that are approved for use in Singapore, USA and Europe. Hyaluronic acid fillers (eg Restylane, Juvederm, Bolotero), Sculptra PLLA collagen stimulating filler, Rejuran PRN filler, just to name a few.
Descent: the effects of gravity will become more evident as we age. We cannot fight it. Our face shape goes from the youthful “V” to a sad and tired “A” shape. We look tired even though we do not feel it. Ever noticed how Hollywood stars and people in general look like their faces have put on weight, or become rounder or broader as they age? The main reason is the descent and sagging of the face. How do we overcome this? Prevention is better than cure. For early cases of sagging, go for regular firming treatments like facials that have proper massage protocols. These facials help to encourage efficient lymphatic drainage in the face, leading to a more lifted and tauter skin.
For more effective options, radio-frequency (Thermage) or high-intensity micro-focused ultrasound treatments (eg UIthera) are great treatments. They are FDA approved, have a long track record of safety and popularity. Best of all, there is not downtime and minimal risks when done properly by trained medical professionals. Results last about 1 year.
For those with more serious sagging or are looking for improvements and do not mind a few days of downtime (mild swelling and bruising) ,many are opting for thread-lift procedures. This involves inserting special absorbable threads under the skin to lift sagging skin. Results last between 1 to 2 years.
For the extremely saggy skin, you may need to consider a surgical face-lift, which involves cutting away excess skin under general anaesthesia. This is the most dramatic improvement and should be reserved for the most needy of cases. Most are not keen to go under the knife nowadays due to the advent of less invasive procedures as described above. Some are also worried a surgical face lift may give an unnatural result. The most famous example might be the Hollywood star Robert Redford, whom many feel he looks very plastic, too tight, after his face-lift.
Deterioration: Our skin quality also deteriorates if we are not careful. Photo-ageing, blemishes, dullness, fine lines, deep lines all start to appear. Imagine a balloon skin that has lost its elasticity. That is also a consequence of skin quality deterioration. This is made worse with the pull of gravity. Yes, it does seem to go truly downhill from here. Make sure to use a good sunscreen from young, to protect from the cumulative effects of sun exposure. Vitamin C serums are a great extension of sunscreens because they can protect from oxidative damage due to ultraviolet rays and infrared rays. Regular use of retinoids and AHA peels keep skin looking fresh and young by way of exfoliating the outer, older layers of skin. For the most effective improvements, lasers may sometimes be used to bring back that radiant glow of youthful skin. Lasers are powerful tools to rejuvenate skin. They can get rid of unwanted pigmentation, reduce fine wrinkles and shrink open pores, sometimes instantly. There are many different types of lasers in the market, and that discussion is a topic all by itself. Suffice to say that one should use the gentlest more suitable laser for the particular type of skin issue. Speak to an experienced aesthetic doctor for the best advice.
Dehydration: The loss of hydration is one of the reasons why our skin appears less radiant, pores are more obvious and coarse. Our skin feels parched despite using the same amount of creams as before. You may need to switch to more potent hydrating options, such as intense hydrating serums and creams, go for hydrating facials and masks. There are many different kinds of facials that incorporate machine technology to push hydrating serums deep into the skin. Keep yourself well hydrated throughout the day by drinking water (tea, coffee, sugary drinks and alcohol do not count). A very popular way to hydrate skin for the porcelain effect is Skinboosters injections. Using a special liquid filler and injecting device, the doctor is able to distribute the filler evenly and precisely in the out skin to hydrate and lift skin. Done regularly, it can have great effects on skin health. There is a downtime of about 2 days, where the skin may appear red and bumpy, but this does not bother patients who see the benefits once the redness settles.