Are You Ready for Your Post-Pandemic Closeup?


With the end of the pandemic possibly in sight, and Valentine’s Day on the horizon, maybe you’ve taken a longer-than-usual look in the mirror and thought: “Oh no! I’m not ready for dinner parties/eating out/dating/seeing friends.”

We get it. And we consulted two respected doctors—with no ties to companies or devices—to ask them about some popular quick fixes to get us back to life AP (after pandemic) feeling and looking great.

What are the alternatives?

Collagen supplements: Collagen is the protein that helps keep skin looking young and bouncy. When collagen declines with age, your skin sags. An ongoing marketing blitz suggests collagen supplements can help. In one recent study,  36 women who took a daily supplement for 12 weeks had better skin elasticity and hydration than the 36 taking placebo tablets daily. Problem is, this study and many others are supported by the supplement makers. But at about $40 a month, worth the gamble?

“Collagen is wildly popular right now despite a paucity of evidence,” says Elizabeth Hale, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and clinical associate professor at New York University. “Skeptics say if it worked that well we would know by now.” She, too, is skeptical but reluctant to ”poo poo” it entirely.

Forget it, says Steven Williams, MD, a board-certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon in Dublin, CA., and a vice president of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. “There’s no science that ingesting collagen helps with skin elasticity,” he says. Period.

Other approaches have a more solid track record, including:

Hyaluronic acid injections—Usually called fillers, some popular ones contain hyaluronic acid (Juvederm, Restylane, others), found naturally in connective tissue and used to plump up the skin for a younger look. It’s often used to soften the lines from nose to mouth or those under the mouth lines. Results are immediate, Williams says, although there might be a bit of lumpiness for 4 or 5 days. Lasts: several months to several years. Cost: $652 (this is an average, and can vary).

Botulinism toxin—Better known as Botox, but now joined by other brands, including Dysport, Xeomin and Jeaveau, it’s a purified substance derived from bacteria. It blocks the nerve signal to the muscle so wrinkles diminish. Results are usually good, time after time, Hale says, and ”there’s very little down time, very little pain.” Lasts: 2 or 3 months, in general, Williams says. Costs: $408 but varies.

Fat grafting, fat transfer—”Most people have a little fat they can spare,” Williams says. The technique, done in office with local anesthesia, involves extracting fat cells from one area and transferring them to another area, such as the mid-face, to restore volume lost with age. Results are permanent. Costs vary.

Brown spot blasting –Laser treatments can blast off those brown spots on the hands and elsewhere that can give away age. “It is one of the few things we do that even with one treatment, the spots are virtually gone,” Hale says. Costs: $400 to 900, depending on extent of spots.   

But before you try anything…

For people of color, some special cautions are needed. “Injectables (like Botox and fillers) are definitely safe,” Dr. Hale says. For other procedures, including those involving lasers, it is crucial to see a doctor with expertise so they can select the proper lasers to avoid pigment issues that can occur in darker skinned patients. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons and the American Academy of Dermatology caution that some treatments, such as those using lasers, may lead to pigment issues such as blotches or unusual lightening or darkening of the skin, with some patches becoming darker or lighter than surrounding skin.

And remember, any technique is only as good as the doctor performing it. Check your doc-to-be’s credentials and experience. Know that costs vary by region of the country and every procedure, no matter how minimal, has potential risks. Your skin type and sensitivity may mean you aren’t a candidate for every procedure. Want more info? Try The American Academy of Dermatology and The American Society of Plastic Surgeons. 

This article offered by Senior Planet and Older Adults Technology Services is for informational purposes only and is not intended to substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding any medical condition. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.  

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