A Bright, Beautiful You!

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Cosmetic surgery, skin care, and dental experts reveal what’s new, innovative, and refreshingly affordable

While many of us have curtailed our spending, we still make our appearance a high priority. In fact, Americans seem largely undaunted in their quest for perfection, according to a 2009 survey sponsored by RealSelf.com.

“If money wasn’t an issue, what would you do to improve your appearance?” the survey asked. Respondents said the pursuit of pearly whites topped their wish list, followed by tummy tuck surgery and liposuction. These days, money is an issue. Few of us can squander precious time recovering from an elective nip and tuck. Thankfully, many affordable procedures can boost your beauty quotient without breaking the budget.

Face Value: Scalpel-Free Procedures

Looking younger no longer requires going under the knife. Nonsurgical procedures make it easy to chase years from your face, often with minimal expense or fuss.

“Patients want little down time, little expense, and little pain,” says board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Mark Sofonio. “Thanks to a wave of effective noninvasives, we can deliver on the idea that less is in fact more.”

Sofonio favors task-specific lasers that do everything from tightening slack skin to removing spider veins. Intense Pulsed Light, a nonsurgical stimulator, boasts collagen-boosting capabilities, as well.

Dr. Scott Aaronson, a board-certified plastic surgeon in Palm Springs, endorses the Co2 Laser, adept at resurfacing age-worn skin and refreshing dull complexions. He describes it as the “gold standard” of laser technology.

Fillers and injectables, also known as “liquid face-lifts,” have become cosmetic beauty mainstays. “Patients prefer noninvasive procedures, and we have many options to give them great results,” says Dr. Timothy Jochen of Contour Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery Center. “By building up the face with fillers to add volume, resurfacing skin with lasers and peels, and using Botox for wrinkles, we’ve moved away from the pulled, gaunt look to achieve a more natural outcome.”

Dysport, a new competitor to Botox, acts as a neuromuscular block to banish forehead and frown lines, with results lasting three to four months. Longer-lasting fillers like Restylane and Juvederm camouflage flaws for up to a year. Still others like Radiance and the recently FDA-approved Sculptra can ward off wrinkles for two years. Those seeking a lasting fix can opt for Artefil, the only permanent dermal filler approved by the FDA.

Better by a SMILE

Given the sheer impact a beautiful smile has on the rest of your face, it’s no surprise dental work remains somewhat recession-resistant. Dramatic results typically call for porcelain veneers, which hide discoloration, mask misalignment, and create a “designer smile.” Veneers are fantastic if you can afford them; price per tooth ranges from $750 to $2,100. Rancho Mirage esthetic dentist Dr. Robert Strain suggests patients hoping to minimize their cash outlay consider direct veneers instead.

“Direct veneers are made of composite and cost about a third less than regular veneers,” Strain says. “Great results require considerable skill from the dentist and can last from three to 10 years.”

El Paseo Smiles founder Dr. David Westerberg says another new option worth investigating is the Snap-On Smile, a thin, removable resin appliance worn on your real teeth. “Patients looking for a noninvasive, affordable approach to restorative and cosmetic dentistry are excellent candidates for Snap-On Smile,” he says. “It has a natural look and feel and a brief time investment to achieve life-changing results.”

Dr. Rene’ Dell’Acqua of Dell’Acqua Dental Studio agrees that cosmetic “quick fixes” remain in high demand. “The ‘bang for the buck’ procedures are definitely bonding, gingival recontouring, enamel reshaping, and bleaching,” Dell’Acqua says. “We can close spaces, make teeth appear straighter, change their shape and length, and make them lighter. The change is magical because in about one hour, patients leave with a different smile.”

Prosthodontist Dr. Robert McLachlan of Desert Dental Specialty Group notes that with so many options to choose from, it’s important for patients to educate themselves to find procedures that best suit them. “Chewing habits, jaw-to-jaw relationships, size of the smile, and health of the gum tissue are only a few factors that could influence the choice of materials and procedures,” McLachlan says.

Body Language: Look Leaner Without Breaking a Sweat

In 2010, trends to watch include improved body contouring for weight-loss surgery patients and new techniques for noninvasive tummy tucks. Those seeking to minimize a “muffin top” might consider Zerona, a painless, body-slimming laser that promises to melt away unsightly bulges in just a few treatments. Dr. Kenneth Jesser, a board-certified vein specialist and expert in laser technology, has seen patients lose six inches of fat in two weeks using Zerona. “I see it as a great jump-start to a diet or weight-loss regimen,” Jesser says.

Another treatment garnering headlines is Zeltiq, dubbed “the cool way to remove fat.” Zeltiq uses cryolipolysis technology to freeze and eliminate flab with “no needles, no incisions, no anesthesia, and no recovery time.”

Bariatric surgery has increased dramatically in recent years and, as a result, plastic surgeons see more patients for body contouring and lifts, which may offer health and beauty benefits.

“The removal of excess skin following dramatic weight loss is often medically necessary,” says Dr. David Morrow, medical director of The Morrow Institute Medical Group. “Flaps of hanging skin can create serious health problems, so the concern is not simply cosmetic.”

Morrow’s practice specializes in procedures for the face and body, plus many affordable rejuvenation treatments. But Morrow cautions that while it’s tempting to bargain shop, patients should always seek the best-qualified care available.

“In my 30 years of practice, I have seen new and exciting techniques come and go. But at times like these, I believe it is best to stick with good, basic principles when selecting a surgeon and deciding upon a procedure,” Morrow says.

He advises patients considering any type of cosmetic enhancement to take the time to investigate the doctor and the procedure carefully. “Checking for credentials and getting more than one opinion is always recommended.”

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