BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - As we go up in age, our skin heads the other direction. In 2014, Americans spent $12 billion on cosmetic procedures to reverse that trend,
. Many of those procedures are getting less invasive and less painful.
"This machine is called an Ulthera, and one of the latest advances is using it for this, what we call the décolletage area," said Dr. Thomas Guillot during a recent demonstration. Guillot is a cosmetic surgeon and serves as medical director at
in Baton Rouge.
Ultherapy is one of the hottest trends in cosmetic surgery, mainly because it's not surgery at all. Originally developed to treat wrinkles on the face and neck, it can now be used to smooth other areas of the body and even help out in the south Louisiana heat.
"Excessive sweating under the arms, we can use it for that now," Guillot said. "We also are beginning to use it around the elbows and the knees to tighten up loose skin, there's a new protocol coming out that actually tightens the buttock muscles, and there is another one coming out to be used in labiaplasty."
It's not a laser, rather a focused ultrasound. Sound waves travel up to 4.5 millimeters underneath the skin.
"It puts a little tiny thermal coagulation burn on there, and that causes contraction in the area, and it also causes collagen to be laid down, and that's what gives you your smooth appearance," Guillot explained.
It's a good, non-surgical option for people like Alicia Allain. At 45-years-old, she's much younger than most Ultherapy patients. Her fight against gravity is proactive.
"Coming from Hollywood, you're used to seeing ladies that have had a lot of radical treatments," Allain said. "I don't want to go down that path, so I'd rather do preventative. Anything to keep the collagen manifesting."
She described the feeling as similar to the pop of a rubber band. The results show up immediately in some areas, but the full effect comes in about four months. Treatments last three to four years, and the cost is around $4,500 for the full face. Prices vary for treatment of other areas.
For those who don't mind the stick of a needle, Dr. Guillot recommends two other therapies.
Mesotherapy has been used in Europe and other parts of the world for over 50 years. It's faced criticism in the United States, but Guillot insists the small injections of phosphatidylcholine mixed with saline are safe and effective. The drug is normally used to treat blood vessel blockages by dissolving fat particles. To tighten a fatty neck, Guillot uses three sets of injections two weeks apart.
Results usually begin to show up in the fourth week, but a good diet and exercise are recommended to keep the fat from coming back. The cost of mesotherapy is about $2,000 for the series of three shots. Mesotherapy is not FDA approved for cosmetic use, but Guillot says he's used the drug "off-label" for about ten years.
Brand new to the market is
. It's an injectable filler used to lift the cheeks. The "plus" represents the addition of lidocaine, an anesthetic that makes the injections nearly painless.
"It wasn't painful at all," said Monica Dieterich after her first treatment. "You heard a little cracklin', a little creakin'. It was more of the pressure."
Dieterich's cheeks were visibly more plump after the Radiesse+ injections. That can then raise the skin in the rest of the face.
"Most times once you pick the cheeks up, the nasolabial folds look better," Guillot said.
Radiesse is made from hydroxyapatite, a naturally occurring mineral often used in bone reconstruction. Once injected, it can be molded into place with the fingers. Results can be seen immediately, but look better once swelling goes away. Effects last anywhere from 14 to 24 months, and the cost is $600 per syringe. Guillot used one syringe on each of Dieterich's cheeks.
As technology improves, beauty becomes less of a pain and more of an expense. A plastic surgeon can smooth your wrinkles in the times it takes you to eat your lunch, but always ask your doctor what's right for you.