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Professional anti ageing treatments: what's the deal?
Dr Parul Kolhe
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January 17, 2007

Part I: The truth about anti-ageing products

So, you're on the wrong side of 30, lie about your age by about five years and have an array of anti wrinkle creams, age defying complexes and youth serums on your dressing table. But you're still not satisfied.

You are looking at professional help, but don't want anything as radical as plastic surgery.

There are many treatments available with dermatologists today. Before you consider one of these, it makes sense to understand them for what they are.

We review the treatments available today.

Microdermabrasion

Commonly called 'sandblasting' or 'skin polishing', this simple OPD (out-patient department) procedure takes only 15 to 30 minutes. Here the skin is bombarded with Aluminum Oxide crystals (which resemble sand) at high speed, or abraded with a diamond tipped probe.

In this way, the upper layers of the skin (epidermis) are scraped off, revealing fresher, younger skin. Also, this process creates an artificial swelling by water collection in the deeper layers of the skin. As a result, small, superficial scars and wrinkles look filled out and skin is smoothened.

The effect is temporary and repeat sittings are needed every two to three weeks, each costing about Rs 1,500-3,000.

Note: There is minor possibility of scarring if done by an inexperienced person. Those with sensitive skin may suffer from redness and swelling for a couple of days.
 
Chemical peels

Mostly done for skin problems like acne and pigmentation, this treatment calls for a specific chemical called glycolic acid when used for anti-ageing purposes.

The procedure is so quick that you can even pop out of the office during your lunch hour for the treatment and be back at your desk in no time, thus earning the nickname 'lunch-time peel'. Once applied, the acid chemically destroys the upper skin layers. Frequent applications also tighten skin by increasing the collagen in the deeper skin layers.

A peel costs Rs 1,500-3,000 and must be repeated every two to three weeks.

Note: If done incorrectly, the acid can cause burns, scars and, in some cases, even death. So, trust only a trained dermatologist for your peels, not beauticians or technicians.

Laser facials/ photofacials

IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) is used to resurface sagging and wrinkled skin. A gel is applied thickly all over the skin except the eye area, which is covered by protective shades. The laser handpiece then goes over the affected skin. By controlling the depth of penetration of the laser, only the uppermost layers of skin are destroyed.

The effect is remarkable but needs to be repeated every few weeks. Each sitting costs Rs 3,000-5,000.

Note: Skin may be red and tender for 24 to 48 hours. Incorrect or inappropriate laser settings can result in burns.

Botox

Once used exclusively by movie stars, this treatment is now available to one and all. It works by relaxing the facial muscles, thus reducing frown lines from the forehead, laugh lines from the mouth and crow's feet from the eye area. Botox (short form of Botulinum Toxin) is injected into the underlying muscles to relax them. The full effect is seen two to three days after the injections.

This treatment is expensive -- Rs 10,000 to 50,000 per sitting. Also, the effect wears off in six to eight months.

Note: If injected too close to the eyes, there is a possibility of weakening of the eyelid muscles, causing the lids to droop. Also, too much of Botox can result in a frozen, plastic and expressionless face. However, these side effects are temporary and reversible.

Dermal fillers

Depressions on the skin, like wrinkles and lines (laugh lines from your nose to the corners of your mouth), are lifted and filled out by injecting certain inert substances into the deeper tissues under the surface of these depressions. These substances do not react with the body and remain in place for 12 to 18 months before being absorbed. 'Restylane,' 'perLane' and several other fillers are available depending on your skin's needs.

The cost is Rs 15,000-30,000, depending on how much filler you need.

Note: Incorrectly administered injection can result in a 'lumpy' look. There is also a possibility that you may be unprepared for the drastic alteration in your looks and therefore may not like the end result.

Superpulsed radiofrequency 

Also known as 'Dermalage' or 'Thermalage', this is the newest weapon in the anti-ageing armament. A frequency of current is passed through a probe into the deep layers of skin, where it stimulates the collagen and tightens it without any damage to the surface of the skin. All you experience is a mild warmth as the probe is rubbed on your skin.

The treatment costs Rs 2,000-3,000 for a sitting and needs to be repeated every two to three weeks. Good results are expected after six to eight sittings.

Note: This has practically no side effects. In an unlikely event of an earthing plate not kept below your body, you may receive a mild electric shock. Also, if the machine's power setting is kept too high, the heat may cause redness and puffiness.

Part I: The truth about anti-ageing products

-- Dr Parul S Kolhe is an M B B S, DDV and DNB in dermatology.



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