All I wanted was microdermabrasion. Or so I thought. I was over 35 and unhappy with my fine lines and a new-found dullness to my complexion that seemed to appear overnight. So I booked a consultation with a cosmetic surgeon.
“We could do some microdermabrasion…post-op,” the surgeon told me after examining my face for approximately 30 seconds. “But I’d like to suggest a thread-lift.”
Excuse me? Talk about overkill. I ran, not walked, to the nearest exit. How could I have been so wrong? But what if he was right and I did need surgery to look my best?
It made me wonder: When does a woman need to hear the cold, hard truth, and how does she decide it’s the right thing to do at the right time? As I started doing my research into the various procedures that the surgeon had recommended, I realized finding the appropriate treatment and the best doctor to dispense it was a bit of a minefield. Here’s what I learned.
Non-invasive alternatives to surgery have exploded in popularity in recent years, including Botox,injectable fillers, radio-frequency and lasers. Even liposuction has seen nonsurgical alternatives emerge. Dr. Lisa Kellett, a Toronto-based dermatologist, sees the nonsurgical realm as the wave of the future. This coincides with women moving away from the pulled, too tight, overdone aesthetic popular in the past two decades—and favoured by celebrities like Mary Tyler Moore, Joan Collins and Rose McGowan—and accepting subtler, more natural-looking improvements.
Among the latest non-surgical news, Thermage, a procedure that utilizes radiofrequency technology and has been used for years to tighten jowls, stomachs and legs, is now focusing on the eye area. It is claimed to tighten eyelid skin in one treatment, with no surgery, scars or downtime. More Thermage services are being developed to offer more effective non-invasive treatments for cellulite.
“In the past, there were no treatments for the hands and chest,” adds Dr. Kellett. “However, now we doinjectables, which restore volume to the hands and chest so lines disappear and veiny, old hands look younger.”
Of course, there is something to be said for taking baby steps toward that soft, firm skin you covet. “Skin tightening and injectable fillers have improved to such an extent that for many patients, surgery is not necessary,” says Dr. Kellett. “Dermal fillers, for example, can make patients look seven to 10 years younger. In fact, many patients continue to do dermal fillers even after they have surgery.”
Four important things to ask your surgeon:
How long will the results last?
You need a timeline for planning and to make sure your expectations are realistic—including a breakdown of the various procedures—in order to make an informed decision that takes all aspects of the surgery into consideration.
What are the risks of the procedure? What if there is a complication – who pays the costs?
The surgeon should inform you in advance of all short and long-term risks, future potential costs, and who will pay if touch-ups are needed.
What if the procedure does not work? What is the next step?
An experienced surgeon will have a reasonable idea of the outcome. In the case of some surgeries, such as a tummy tuck, they should explain that touch-ups are normal and expected. All of this should be explained in detail in order to manage your expectations and reassure you that everything will be done to make you happy with the results.
What is the length of healing time and how much downtime should I expect?
This will differ from patient to patient and depend on the type of surgery. You should have a reasonably accurate (barring unforeseen difficulties) timeline for recovery, post-operative visits and return to normal activity, including work, exercise and even sex (sorry).