As a former personal trainer, Sarah is passionate about all things health, beauty, and self care.
Plastic surgery has been around since the early 1900s and has certainly had its fair share of good and bad publicity. While cosmetic procedures are very popular, and seemingly socially more acceptable today than ever before. While medical technology has come very far and most surgical cosmetic procedures have become routine and safe, surgery isn’t for everyone, and permanent results can be intimidating to many. Fortunately, medical technology has also allowed for cosmetic treatments that don’t require patients to go under the knife.
Minimally invasive cosmetic treatments can be broken down into two categories: minimally invasive, and non-invasive.
Minimally invasive cosmetic treatments typically involve puncturing the skin to an extent, for example an injectable treatment or a treatment that involves needles. A non-invasive treatment is typically classified as a treatment that involves only topical treatments or treatments that generally do not involve puncturing the skin. Neither minimally invasive nor non-invasive treatments require surgical intervention, making them a great alternative for those who want to avoid going under the knife to reach their aesthetic goals.
Two of the major directions that can be taken when it comes to plastic surgery include skin tightening treatments and body contouring and enhancements. Here are a few of the most common minimally invasive treatments that can be used to replace their surgical counterparts.
Minimally Invasive Skin Lifting and Tightening Alternatives
The most commonly known skin lifting treatment is a surgical facelift. This gold standard approach to facial rejuvenation has been around for decades and earned worldwide recognition both in the medical community and among patients. The goal of the surgical facelift is to remove excess skin which develops secondary to gravity and loss of collagen and elasticity. However, given a choice, not everyone would be willing to have their face cut and stitched, and not everyone has the skin laxity that requires such a dramatic surgical involvement. Additionally, the surgery doesn’t address facial volume loss, which is a crucial component in the aging process. Hence, the following treatments can be used to achieve similar results without the risks inherent in every surgical procedure.
PDO Thread Lift
A PDO (Polydioxanone) thread lift is a minimally invasive alternative to a surgical facelift that involves the insertion of barbed surgical threads underneath the skin. The barbs keep the threads in place as they are gently pulled upward along with the skin in the treatment area securing the underlying skin in its new position. Similar to its surgical counterpart it only addresses skin laxity and doesn’t lead to the replacement of lost facial volume. According to this website, an important distinction is that PDO only demonstrates effectiveness when there’s minimal to mild skin excess, as no skin gets removed during the procedure. Unlike surgery, there is no downtime involved with barbed sutures and patients can return to normal activities within a few short days.
As previously described depletion of facial fat pads is one of the primary contributors to facial aging process leading to a sunken and gaunt appearance. Previously, allographic (from the same patient) adipose tissue harvesting from one area and injection into another area was the only method to address this problem. Medical innovations led to the introduction of soft semi-permanent implants in the form of a hyaluronic acid gel. Its excellent biocompatibility and natural results led to an avalanche of different products on the market allowing physicians to pick and choose the best material for an individualized approach. Dermal fillers have entirely changed the plastic surgery landscape producing surgical-like results without any surgical side effects. When injected, the gel gently expands under the skin and occupies previously lost volume, lasting up to 15 months before additional touch up is required.
Microneedling is a skin tightening treatment commonly used amongst all ages for tightening, firming, and smoothing out the skin. It works through a mechanical handheld tool equipped with several tiny needles that puncture the skin, creating controlled damage to the epidermis and dermis. This stimulates collagen and elastin production as the body begins to repair itself, resulting in tighter skin. While this treatment can not compare to a surgical facelift, it can work very well for someone with beginning signs of aging who wants to tighten their skin.
Fractional Laser Treatments
Facial laser rejuvenation works by inducing controlled damage to more superficial layers of the skin, reducing irregularities, scarring, fine lines, wrinkles, and resulting in skin tightening through collagen and elastin stimulation. Fractional laser treatments may require a few sessions for optimal results but can leave you with visibly firmer and tighter skin once complete. In order to maintain these results, you will need follow up sessions every 12 months.
Ultherapy utilizes focused ultrasound energy to cause heat damage to the superficial musculoaponeurotic system (also called SMAS layer of the skin), inducing micro-scarring and resulting in a tightening effect of the treated area. This treatment is most commonly used around the neck and jawline but does require several painful sessions to see good results.
Body Contouring and Enhancements
Liposuction, butt implants, and butt lifts are all very popular in the world of plastic surgery. While these can result in amazing outcomes, not everyone wants to undergo a surgical procedure that will leave them with permanent enhancements. There are a few minimally invasive alternatives to these body contouring treatments, the most common ones including cryolipolysis, Kybella, and Sculptra butt lifts.
Cryolipolysis is a scientific breakthrough that harnesses the power of freezing temperatures to safely and effectively reduce stubborn fat around the body and select facial areas. It is completely non-invasive and requires no downtime. The process involves the use of a vacuum applicator that is placed on the area of fat accumulation. The tool is used to suck in the fat in the treatment area and freeze it over the course of 35-50 minutes. The dead cells are then processed through the lymphatics and safely excreted. The results are permanent though you will have to wait a few months in order to see them.
Kybella is a minimally invasive injectable solution to eliminate unwanted fat in small areas such as the double chin. Made of deoxycholic acid (which is naturally produced by the body in the digestive system to break down fat) it is injected into the problem area, and gradually breaks down fat cells, which are then metabolized by the body over the course of 1 to 2 months. While this treatment is minimally invasive, you can expect some swelling as well as a bit of a wait and the possibility of needing several sessions for your desired result.
Sculptra Butt Lift
Sculptra is an injectable alternative to the surgical Brazilian Butt Lift (which involves transferring fat from one part of the body into the butt). Poly-L-lactic acid (PLLA) is injected into the butt, and stimulates collagen production in the subcutaneous fat layers. This newly made collagen wraps around PLLA particles creating three-dimensional volume and gradually increasing the size of the buttocks. Results can be seen within a month, but keep in mind that you may need up to four sessions to get the size you want.
Talk To an Expert Before You Decide
Both surgery and injections have their pros and cons. While minimally or non-invasive is always great, some surgical procedures may have longer-lasting and more striking results than their non-surgical alternatives. Whether you go with a surgical procedure or not, the best way to find out what will work for you is to discuss your options with a medical expert in the field to confirm that you can actually undergo any of the treatments you are considering. Depending on your anatomy and overall goals you may greatly benefit from one or another, but a professional opinion would be best to steer you in the right direction.