When you think about plastic surgery, what's the first thing that comes to mind? Perhaps those Park Avenue doyennes with waxy visages, the starlets with too-puffy lips, or, most sadly, a once-beautiful woman who is rendered not younger — but unrecognizable? Those devastating signs used to be the hallmarks of cosmetic enhancements. But nowadays, it's nip/tuck not so much. New advancements in technology mean the end of "mannequin face" and the advent of truly natural-looking beauty.
As more and more women — some starting as early as in their '20s — search for better, more realistic ways to fend off aging, the industry has responded with a host of new, high-tech treatments that provide a purer form of pretty. The reason these treatments are becoming popular with a younger crowd? "Awareness, accessibility, and price point," explains Dr. Neil Sadick, clinical professor of dermatology at Weill Cornell Medical College and president of the Cosmetic Surgery Foundation. "The younger generation understands that replacing lost volume slows down the genetics of aging. They are using these fillers and toxins to prevent and postpone aging, not reverse it — I call this age prophylaxis." Adds dermatologist Dr. Dennis Gross," It's about stopping the wrinkle before the crinkle."
If getting prodded with needles and injected with chemicals all sounds a bit too Incredible Hulk to you, there's always a laser. "Many women are turning to laser treatment to avoid the immovable face look," says dermatologist Dr. Anne Chapas. "Because laser energies stimulate the body to repair itself gradually, the results can be more subtle and natural looking."
So what do you need to know before you book one of these high-tech treatments? "Not all doctors have the training to do this," says David Colbert M.D., founder of Colbert MD Skincare and the New York Dermatology Group and author of The High School Reunion Diet . "To avoid looking like Joan Crawford's long-lost drag-queen sister, make an appointment with a qualified dermatologist and not your GP or 'visiting Brazilian hairdresser' offering it in a midtown hotel off the medical map, otherwise you risk [looking like a clown] for a six-month purgatory. I've seen some truly gnarly results when an unsuspecting client gets a makeover from her dentist or ob-gyn." Colbert recommends you find a doc that is accredited by the American Board of Dermatology or the American Society of Dermatologic Surgeons.
Sadick says it's important to start a dialogue with the injector so they are clear on exactly what kind of results you expect. He advises you to explain that you want a natural look and still want to have expression and movement. "Remember that less is always more," he says. "You can always return for more filler, however it's difficult to take it out after it's been injected." Colbert's final words of wisdom? "If everyone in the waiting room looks related, politely cancel your appointment."
From lasers that literally melt fat to a sci-fi filler that makes you look younger by injecting your own plasma into your face, in the pages that follow we've pinpointed the 11 most notable treatments that are changing the way we look at plastic surgery today. Click through to check out these futuristic skin saviors for yourself.