Turn Back the Clock with New Treatments and Breakthroughs
With aging still a largely mysterious process, current seekers of perpetual youth and beauty are urging scientists to find ways to slow or even reverse it. New tools to fight lines, wrinkles and sagging skin excite the imagination.
Today’s anti-aging toolbox is filled with promise. Tools range from at-home strengthening and refining creams to commercial treatment technologies such as cold laser, intense pulsed light (IPL), light-emitting diode (LED), microdermabrasion, photofacials, and skin tightening and rejuvenating ultrasound. Acupuncture facelifts make use of ancient Chinese techniques. Then there are the more invasive injectables, fillers and chemical peels. How do we know what is best for us?
Whatever one’s chosen tools, Hema Sundaram, author of Face Value: The Truth about Beauty—and a GuiltFree Guide to Finding It, believes that women at any age have every right to pursue the outward expression of their inner beauty. The Washington, D.C.based medical doctor and board-certified dermatologist, who specializes in cosmetic surgery, supports a woman’s freedom to choose, without embarrassment or criticism. She emphasizes the positive effects of cosmetic procedures performed for the right reasons and notes, “Restoring the balance between a woman’s inner and outer selves can transform her life.”
An at-home anti-aging regimen aimed at retarding time’s telltales and enhancing beauty lays the foundation for an effective partnership with an esthetician or dermatologist. Performed consistently, do-it-yourself treatments can help to maintain cosmetic work performed by skincare professionals. Popular, non-invasive techniques are explained here. Many take it a step further with a meditation practice designed to develop and project inner, spiritual beauty.
Gua Sha. This Chinese technique (pronounced GWA SHA) uses a small medicinal board to gently massage, manipulate and stimulate energy points along the face. The objective is to promote a normal flow of energy, or qi (pronounced KEE), and blood circulation and to remove toxins. It also supports, lymph drainage.
Gua sha activates inner vitality by stimulating both the superficial and deep muscles that control facial expression. Beauty benefits include a brighter complexion and a reduction in the appearance of wrinkles, dark under-eye circles and puffy eyes. It also lifts sagging at the neck and jaw.
Hypnox. This 25-minute guided hypnotherapeutic audio recording is touted as a natural alternative to the neurotoxin Botox. Instead of paralyzing targeted facial muscles, which inhibits natural facial expression, Hypnox targets and retrains the same muscles to stop habitual frowning, lip puckering and squinting. The process is said to promote overall relaxation, allowing wrinkles to fade away.
Facercize. Muscle resistance training helps tone and enliven the 30 muscles of the face to render more youthful-looking features. Muscle fibers literally smooth out, shorten and lift the attached skin on the face and neck.
Enzyme Mask. A weekly exfoliating fruit enzyme mask gently dissolves dead surface cells and embedded impurities, while restoring hydration. Adding an organic, fruit-based peel of alphaand beta-hydroxy acids supplies an ideal boost that can result in an even brighter complexion and firmer looking skin.
Retinols. These naturally occurring forms of vitamin A are a gentler, over-the-counter version of retinoids. They likewise promote healthy cell renewal and collagen production.
Gentle Microdermabrasion. Athome microdermabrasion kits work to reduce the visibility of pores and fine lines. Many come with battery-operated brushes, aluminum-free scrubs, balancing toners and moisturizing serums; look for natural ingredients.
Microcurrent Facial Sculpting. “Electrical stimulation forces facial muscles to do sit-ups,” says Charlene Handel, owner of Skin Fitness, Etc., in Carlsbad, California. Twenty years of experience with handheld commercial products have convinced this certified holistic esthetician that if the current can’t be felt, it isn’t doing the job.
~ Dr. Hema Sundaram, owner, Sundaram Dermatology, Cosmetic & Laser Surgery Center, Rockville, Maryland, and Fairfax, Virginia.
Trained by Elina Fedotova, CEO of Elina Organics and founder of the Association of Holistic Skin Care Practitioners, Handel cautions that techniques intended to move skincare products beyond the outermost dermal layer—such as microcurrent, cold laser, ultrasound and LED—should be 100 percent natural and organic. “Read labels to find the USDA Organic seal and avoid subjecting skin to synthetic chemicals and ingredients that contain petroleum derivatives from crude oil; artificial fragrances, which frequently contain toxic chemicals; and synthetic preservatives such as parabens,” she advises.
The ultimate responsibility for skincare is our own. When a healthy diet, sufficient sleep, exfoliation, hydration and natural topical treatments are no longer keeping gravity at bay, individuals of either gender need not hesitate to seek help from skin-care professionals.
Linda Sechrist is a senior staff writer for Natural Awakenings magazines.
Body Contouring Primer
by Linda Sechrist
The ability to gently melt away body fat lies largely in the hands of a physician certified to perform Food and Drug Administration-approved, noninvasive treatments. Here are three of the most common.
Zerona. Developed by Santa Barbara Medical Innovations (SBMI), this cool laser technology targets the fat in isolated trouble spots, such as love handles and belly bulges. According to the company, Zerona targets adipose (fat) cells with specific, low-level wavelengths of light, causing the fat to seep out of the cells. The deflated cells result in a smaller, tighter contour. SBMI’s studies show that the fat is safely absorbed into the body’s lymphatic system and eventually metabolized by the liver.
Zeltiq Coolsculpting. Used in Europe and Canada before coming to the United States, this FDA-approved approach is performed in a doctor’s office, typically under the supervision of a dermatologist or plastic surgeon; no anesthesia or recovery time is necessary. It employs a contained suction device to cool the skin, as well as the fat beneath it, to 40 degrees. Several days later, the cooled fat cells begin to shrink. Damaged fat cells are slowly digested by the body over several months and removed through the liver.
VelaShape. This non-surgical treatment for reducing cellulite combines radio frequency energy, infrared light, mechanical rollers and vacuum suction to heat and massage the shallow layers of fat that contribute to cellulite. The handheld vacuum sucks at the fatty pocket, while the infrared light heats and shrinks fat cells.
According to Dr. Brian S. Biesman, director of the Nashville Centre for Laser and Facial Surgery, where he specializes in cosmetic and reconstructive eye-lid surgery, the ideal candidate for such treatments is near their ideal body weight and wants to remove unwanted fat in localized areas. He counsels, “It’s not an alternative to healthy diet or lifestyle.”