I’m turning 49 tomorrow! For the past nine years, I’ve been mentally stuck at 40. But lately these pesky jowls and droopy eyelids have been forcing me to confront reality. Well-meaning friends have told me I look tired—which is kind of an insult when I know I’ve actually had more than my eight hours of sleep. I know its gravity taking it’s toll. I’m starting to realise that processing this loss of youth will be a distressing period, and a visit to a dermatologist will be my source of reassurance.
These days, there’s wide menu of non-invasive aesthetic procedures, the most popular of which are fillers and botox. Although it can’t achieve the same results as plastic surgery, it’s a good option for those seeking to reduce the visible signs of ageing without the anxiety and risk of going under the knife. Its quick, “can be done during lunch break,” no-downtime convenience has made it a top choice for aesthetic treatment for ageing women.
If you type in #dermalfillers or #juvederm on Instagram, you’ll see countless videos showing dramatic before and after results. It’s amazing to see the transformations after just a few quick injections. I think, for the right candidate, it is undeniably gratifying— that is if it’s done right. This means finding the right doctor and making sure he/she uses good quality products.
Beauty is in the eye of the injector
Droopy eyelids, puffy eyebags, sagging jowls, loss of volume on the cheeks. At my age, they’re visible enough to bother me, but not yet bad enough for plastic surgery. I’ve tried all kinds of topical remedies and though they helped, I felt I needed a more powerful and transformative rejuvenation treatment.
So off I went to dermatologist, Dra Allen Cabrera. She’s my injector of choice, because for a first timer like me, I wanted to be sure that my face was in good hands, literally. I can’t stress enough how important it is to diligently search for the right doctor. Our face is full of blood vessels which makes injectables risky. In the wrong hands, it can even cost you your eyesight.
Aside from her impressive credentials with lots of hours training abroad, Dr. Allen Cabrera also lectures on the topic and provides training for other doctors, which I find very reassuring. I also trust her sense of aesthetics, mainly her natural and subtle restorative approach to facial rejuvenation using only subtle tweakments.
She says, “A face always has to look natural. For instance, it’s not normal for a face to not have nasolabial folds. The only species that has totally effaced nasolabial folds are apes. We don’t want to look like planet of the apes. Sometimes less is better.” Not all doctors adopt this conservative attitude.
“Treatment goals of each patient is carefully considered. For instance, a 65 year old woman has a different treatment goal compared to a 40 year old. In men, we can’t treat all the lines because it signifies power and authority, which makes them attractive. Each patient is different, so treatments vary.” She shuns the cookie-cutter approach where everyone’s face ends up looking like they sprung from one mold.
Her objective is not to feed on vanity, but to do minimal not radical changes that will make her patients feel confident and happy.
It was a collaborative effort as she tried to understand my concerns while educating me about the changes in anatomical structures underneath, such as bone resorption, and volume loss and its resulting in certain emotional attributes. “It’s not just about the skin, but all the layers starting from the bone, to the fat compartments overlying the bone, the weakening of the ligaments and SMAS, and thinning of the epidermis.”
Her approach is hinged on converting the emotional message expressed by the ageing face ( e.g. tired and sad into happy and well-rested). “I restore and lay the structural foundation that was lost in time. Changes are minimal, so ideally, a series of sessions is needed to achieve optimum results.”
Not all fillers and botox are created equal
I have done some research and found that there are countless brands of fillers out there, from the US, Korea, Germany, China, etc. Some are easily available on Amazon. There’s also very little regulation on non-surgical cosmetic procedures, so it’s up to us to do our due diligence. Don’t hesitate to ask your doctor about the products that will go into your face.
Dra. Allen prefers the pioneer brand, Botox and Juvederm, manufactured by Allergan. She tells me she only uses the most reputable products from reputable drug companies. “One consideration is that they have the most well founded evidence-based studies of their product, its safety, and efficacy. As a doctor, I like Allergan because it is reliable and I know that I have a strong support of a good company. The product has consistent results and their standard is very high”.
“I’ve tried many other brands too, but realised that the reproducibility of the result, the lifting capacity, and the longevity of the treatment result (upto 24 months vs. 6 months for other brands) is really incomparable to other brands. Any doctor will want only the best for their patients.”
My face is naturally flat to begin with, compounded by volume loss due to ageing. After a few quick injections here and there, I was very pleased with the outcome. With my eyebags gone, my eyelids lifted and my hallow cheeks refreshed, within minutes, I didn’t look tired anymore.
Results were instant and because there was no downtime, I went about the rest of my day without any issues. When I got home, my husband hardly noticed anything, which was a sign of good cosmetic work—understated and difficult to see, but with a noticeable change in what Dra. Allen calls the “emotional message” of the face. The best part is, now even when I’m really tired, i still look fresh. Overall, the feeling was very uplifting not only on the outside but also on the inside.