Life

Ask the Dentist: I'd opt for facial fillers over surgery when it comes to looking young

Lucy Stock, dentist at Gentle Dental Care, Belfast, sees facial fillers as a better alternative to cosmetic surgery when it comes to making your face look younger

The active component in the wrinkle-busting injections is called botulinum toxin (Botox)

I DON'T remember ticking the box but it's happening – I'm getting older and, well, more crinkled. Like many people, I want to look my best – not so much younger but just fresher and more rested looking. And, like most people, I would rather not have a surgical procedure for cosmetic reasons if I could avoid it.

So fortunately for myself and other unhappy wrinklies, the cosmetic industry is moving towards the facial rejuvenation trend. This involves analysing the entire face and using a combination of different treatments to enhance beauty quickly without extensive recovery time.

A combination of botulinum toxin injections, fillers and skin peels are used to give a more youthful look. As with all treatments, the outcomes can range from subtle to obvious and there are risks with everything that need to be managed.

Research has shown that the number of UK citizens undergoing cosmetic surgery fell by 40 per cent in 2016 to the lowest number in a decade, while non-surgical cosmetic treatments continue to rise. It seems that people are understandably being put off by botched surgery stories in the press.

My advice would be to stick to reputable clinics that are medically based. While there are recommended professional standards for cosmetic practice (set by the Royal College of Surgeons), those who uphold these recommendations do so on a voluntary basis. Dentists and doctors are used to providing medical treatments to patients and working to safe guidelines within a code of ethics. Having medical treatments performed in someone's front room should sound warning bells.

Back to the fun stuff. The active component in the wrinkle-busting injections is called botulinum toxin (Botox). It was used by eye doctors in the1980s to treat muscular disorders of the eye. They noticed that wrinkles around the eye were also disappearing following treatment and, by the end of the decade, the injections were being used for cosmetics.

Its most basic action is to block nerve transmission to muscles causing temporary weakness. Wrinkles and lines become smoother or disappear altogether. Now the injections can be used over the entire face for rejuvenation.

Many of the fillers on the market contain a substance called hyaluronic acid, which is a naturally occurring sugar-chain molecule found in all skin and soft tissues throughout the body. It attracts and binds water in the skin, providing volume and hydration, but also ‘cushioning' and supporting collagen and elastin fibres.

The chemical peels can help smooth the texture of the facial skin, as the chemical solutions cause dead skin to slough off and eventually peel away. The regenerated skin is usually smoother and less wrinkled than the old skin. This combination approach can give exciting results, so roll on five minutes younger.

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