Plastic Surgery 101

Non-surgical options

Q. Can you make sense of the following: Ulthera, Thermage, Cellulaze, Fraxel, Sculptra, Restylane, Perlane, Juvederm and Radiesse?

And the final Jeopardy answer is… How many ways can humans invent to prod, burn, tighten, augment and enlarge their face and body?

On a serious note, it is confusing, even for doctors, since so many of these procedures are promoted by independent companies. I’ll try to give you a simple explanation, which you should follow up with your physician when deciding what you want to do and what you really ought to do.

Ulthera, Thermage, Fraxel and Cellulaze are machines that do things to you. More specifically, they tighten your skin by using different modalities.

Ulthera tightens your skin by using ultrasound, which heats up your underlying tissue, causing it to contract and stimulate collagen production. Thermage is another heating agent, but uses radio frequency energy. Fraxel, on the other hand, burns small holes (microscopic) into your skin to get your skin tighter and better looking (and to think you pay for all this torture!)

Cellulaze is the newest machine that promises to diminish cellulite by using a laser fiber, which breaks up the attachments that cause the indentations and bulges that we all dislike.

The rest of your question involves fillers. Fillers are fluids or gels that a doctor injects, into you. Many people have all kinds of non- medical people injecting into them with these products and other none FDA-approved products. Buyer beware!

Restylane, Perlane, Juvederm are products made of hyaluronic acid. These products fill in wrinkles and loss of volume in your facial area and other body parts. By filling in these areas you will presumably look better, when done properly.

Radiesse is a filler made up of calcium, which works well and may last longer than the previously mentioned products.

Sculptra is what I like to call a bio-active filler. Ultimately it’s your own body that creates the “fill” you get with this product. The product is injected into the area of interest, the swelling goes down in three days and you feel like what a “rip-off” this product is. But approximately three weeks after you have had it injected, your tissues magically start swelling, and your own collagen is filling in the deflated tissue you wanted to enhance.

All of these products and machines work well for what they were intended for. They are NOT a non-surgical face lift (they were never intended to be). They are modalities that enhance your look non-surgically so as to delay surgical intervention. Beware of the promises made by promoters who do not have your best intentions.

Read more Dr. Carlos Wolf stories from the Miami Herald

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