Thursday, December 08, 2016

What I learned about skin tightening

Did that title freak you out or what! "Skin tightening? What is Frances up to now?" Well, as of now, nothing. But if I haven't mentioned it yet, I turned 40 last month and things are going downhill for my body. Literally. Neck, boobs, tummy, butt and thighs. Sigh!

Pudgy me the day after my 40th birthday. The tree and I are twinning haha 
Getting older is something none of us can avoid or hide from. We can try but sooner or later, our body goes through changes that make it obvious to everyone around us that we have aged. Wrinkles and thinning skin, especially on our faces, make it clear we are no longer young. So far I don't have lines on my face yet. For a 40-year-old, that is an achievement! Well, maybe not. My derma says it's because of my extremely oily skin. So, dear oily skin, I will not thank you for the terrible acne you made me suffer through the years but thanks for keeping my middle-aged face supple and wrinkle-free!

There are other less greasy ways to reduce signs of aging. One of the best ways to keep skin looking young is through a procedure called skin tightening. As a former lifestyle magazine editor, I know quite a bit about skin tightening but I never actually processed that information till now. Why? Because I'm saggy now! I was never saggy before! (Lemme wipe away a tear for a second.) So let me share with you information I've recently reviewed to help me choose between the various methods and maybe this little primer will also help you find the skin-tightening procedure that will work best for you.

What is Skin Tightening?

Early in our lives, our body produces collagen, a substance that heals and renews our skin cells, making them plump and thicker. The elastins in our skin keeps the cells close together so the skin is tight. As we age, our body slows down the collagen production, causing the skin to stretch and thin, making it sag. Skin tightening is a procedure in which the skin cells are stimulated to produce more of the collagen, plumping the cells and tightening the fibers.

Types of Skin Tightening Treatments

The skin care industry has made dramatic improvements over the years. The result is that there are numerous treatment methods available:

Topical creams. The least expensive choice also produces the mildest results. On their own, serums cannot penetrate deep into the skin where collagen production occurs. This method also has minimal risks, with allergic reactions being the most common. I'm currently using a pricey cream for my breasts, tummy and butt. No dice.

Intense Pulsed Light (IPL). This treatment uses a laser device to penetrate deep into the skin to stimulate collagen production within those cells, plumping the skin and tightening at the same time. Spas have used cosmetic lasers to tighten skin for patients for well over a decade, since the treatment has few side effects and lasts for longer periods of time.

I have tried this! It works! I looked like hell for a week, though, and oh how it hurts! I did three sessions before I gave up. I was supposed to do 6-8 sessions but by the third session, my laugh lines had vanished so I didn't go back. I did IPL way back in 2010. My laugh lines haven't come back and I'm laughing more now, now that I'm a mommy. So IPL works! (Hmm, maybe that's also why I don't look 40. It's not just my greasy face but also the laser treatment I had 6 years ago!)

Ultherapy. This non-invasive method uses ultrasound technology to target skin cells under the surface of the skin, heating them in order to encourage the production of collagen. While the results are effective, the treatment has only been FDA approved for the facial area, d├ęcolletage,and neck region of the body. Many skin clinics have actually offered to do this to me for free but I have always declined because, after my IPL treatments before and I came home each time with painfully red face, my husband glowers, "Don't mess with your face!" But, honey, maybe I can try this now for my neck and boobies? 

Plastic surgery. The most expensive and invasive choice is also the method with the most dramatic results. By cutting away the loose skin and reshaping it, the medical procedure creates tight skin. This method also comes with high risks, including increased chance of infection, and major side effects. I don't need this yet as I'm not THAT saggy. 

What Factors Affect Treatments?

It would be so easy if every treatment worked exactly the same way on each person. The truth is that many things influence the outcome of each procedure, starting with your age. Obviously, the older a person is, the more difficult it will be to tighten and improve the skin. Ideally, most skin therapy treatments work best on younger clients aged 30 to 45 years old. That way, you delay aging. Because it will look really weird when you're all wrinkly today and then super smooth tomorrow. Kinda hard to explain that, right?

Another factor that can affect skin tightening is how well you care for your skin before, during, and after the procedure. If the skin is exposed to too much sun, heavy smoking, or the skin is in very poor condition, you will have less than satisfactory results and recovery time will take far longer.

Of course, each different treatment has a different result. Like I said, plastic surgery is the most dramatic while topical creams have milder (non-existent) results. Deciding on a less expensive method will likely mean less pronounced results. And newer treatment methods tend to be more effective than older methods. An IPL device from 20 years ago won't be as effective as one recently developed. Hmm, maybe I should try IPL again! But if all over my saggy mommy areas, I don't think I'll be able to afford it! I guess I'll have to do it the hard way: proper diet and exercise!

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