The Voice Lift: Is It Worth It?

Our voices naturally age as we get older – it’s an inevitable fact of life. Or is it? A recent post on RealSelf has highlighted an injectable procedure that can enhance vocal performance. The procedure, known popularly as the voice lift, is becoming more popular in the US and UK. However, many doctors argue that the procedure has too many risks and too few benefits.

What causes vocal aging? Our vocal cords thin over time, which makes the voice sound crackly and reedy. By plumping up certain points in the larynx, or voice box, plastic surgeons can restore the natural fullness of the voice.

Plastic surgeons have been using some of the same techniques that are often used to add volume and definition to the face. One of the most popular approaches is fat grafting. During a facial fat graft, unwanted fat is taken from elsewhere in the body, and used for the purposes of facial rejuvenation. During a voice lift, writes the Daily Mail, the fat is “grafted on to the vocal folds to plump them up and enhance voice performance.”

The alternative to fat grafting is injectable fillers, such as Juvederm and Restylane. Unlike fat grafting, injectable fillers do not require the removal of fat from elsewhere in the body. Injectable fillers tend not to last as long as fat grafts, and are naturally absorbed by the body after a few months.

But don’t imagine that fat grafting itself is a long-term solution. In fact, the body tends to reabsorb much of the injected fat over time as well. As a result, the voice lift is limited in its effectiveness, and only tends to improve the voice over the course of weeks or months.

Is there a surgical alternative to the voice lift? Not unless the larynx is seriously damaged or impaired. No responsible plastic surgeon would perform cosmetic voice enhancement, since the risk of complications is too great. Until minimally invasive techniques become more advanced, the voice lift is one procedure that most patients will want to decline.

Photo credit: Dinozauris, Wikimedia Commons

Lip Shortening Surgery Obscure But Often Effective, Says ASPS Study

You’ve probably heard the expression “long in the tooth” – but how about long in the lip? According to a recent study, lip shortening surgery has been getting short shrift from many plastic surgeons, despite its many benefits. In fact, many argue, it fills a valuable niche in the world of facial rejuvenation.

Lip shortening will be getting a lot more attention, now that study author John E. Gatti, MD, is presenting his latest findings at the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) annual conference this week. He proposes that this procedure – also known as the lip lift – should be offered more widely.

When most people think of lip enhancement surgery, what likely comes to mind is lip augmentation. This procedure basically involves restoring volume that is lost during the aging process. There are several different approaches that plastic surgeons use to restore volume to the lips, including:

  • Injectable Fillers. Restylane, Juvederm, and similar products can be used to plump up the lips without the need for surgery.
  • Facial Fat Grafting. This procedure uses your own natural body fat to add volume to your lips.
  • Facial Implants. Using small implants made from solid, durable silicone, many surgeons are able to permanently augment the appearance of the lips.

However, volume isn’t everything. According to Dr. Gatti, “the length of the upper lip increases with age, and this is associated with thinning of the lip and insufficient coverage of the upper teeth.” As a result of this thinning, the delicately sculpted appearance of the youthful lip is ruined.

Lip shortening surgery is able to restore the youthful shape of lips by removing a small strip of skin at the base of the nose. This allows the plastic surgeon to draw back the skin and shorten the appearance of the lips. Dr. Gatti study, which examined 166 lip lifts over a period of 22 years, found that most patients felt their facial appearance had been improved by the procedure.

But this procedure isn’t for everyone, cautions Dr. Gatti. According to the study, 26 percent of the patients required revision surgery, mostly for minor scar irregularities. This procedure involves treating delicate, highly visible areas. As a result, small imperfections can be magnified.

Why Do Women Really Get Botox? Not Because They’re Trying to Look Younger

Liz Spikol at The Philly Post recently wrote a thought-provoking article on why women have Botox and other facial rejuvenation procedures. It’s not, as many might think, merely to look younger. In fact, Spikol says, women have Botox because they want to look familiar.

It all stems from the transition that women make in their forties. Until early middle age, Spikol says, women tend to look the same as they did during their college years. During this time of early adulthood, women come into their own as adults. They become accustomed to looking a certain way. As a result, this look of early adulthood becomes an important part of their identities.

Nowadays, women are especially aware of different aspects of their bodies, in part because of the proliferation of beauty magazines:

“A lot of women in this culture know their faces and hands and hip bones and knee caps and every other body part intimately, particularly if they believe those parts are flawed. When a magazine has special sections devoted to individual body types, face shapes or hair type, we women know exactly which pages to look at. ‘Oh, that’s me—combination skin!’”

When the signs of aging begin to appear in early middle age, they emerge as an affront to a woman’s sense of self understanding. The reflection that appears in the mirror looks unfamiliar and strange. For Spikol, the change came with lines on her face that appeared almost overnight, and gray streaks in her hair.

“Women who start to use Botox in their 40s aren’t doing it because they want to return to a younger life. No one who’s in her 40s wants to be in her 20s again, I assure you. They just want to look like the person they’ve seen in the mirror every morning for decades. The person who, bizarrely, is disappearing.”

5 Quick Fixes for Puffy Eyes

Puffiness around the eyes is a common problem that can result from alcohol intake, salty foods, and even crying. If you have persistent signs of aging around the eyes, We recommend an eyelid procedure or skincare regimen.

However, for temporary puffiness around the eyes, there are quick and easy fixes that you can use to get on with your day. Let’s highlight five easy ways to temporarily reduce the appearance of puffy eyes.

Caffeine. When applied topically, caffeine can help to get rid of bags under your eyes. It works by drawing water away from the skin. This creates a tighter appearance. If puffiness is a persistent problem, you may wish to consider purchasing an eye cream that contains caffeine. However, for a quick solution, you can apply cool teabags to your eyelids for 5 minutes.

Witch Hazel. Often used as an astringent, witch hazel has a variety of skincare applications, and can be found at most drugstores. It was used for centuries by Native Americans to treat swelling and inflammation, and was adopted by New England settlers early in our country’s history. By applying cotton pads soaked in witch hazel, you can reduce the appearance of puffiness.

Cucumber. These tasty green fruits, a member of the melon family, contain enzymes that are able to reduce the appearance of inflammation. There is a good reason why you always see cucumber slices at the spa!

Eye Massage. RealBeauty recommends eye massage as a method to push away excess fluid beneath your skin. It’s also a relaxing interlude in an otherwise busy day. Use your ring fingers, start at the inner corners of your eyes, and slowly massage in a circular motion to the outer corners. By moving to your temples and down to your jawline, you can enjoy a full facial massage.

Cold Spoons. Almost anything that can cool your skin will reduce the appearance of puffiness. Cold metal spoons can tighten up your skin, as can a frozen bag of peas, if you are pressed for time and don’t have anything else on hand.

More Than Cosmetic: 3 Unexpected Ways That Botox is Changing People’s Lives

The rise of Botox Cosmetic over the past 10 years looms large over the popular imagination. But many people don’t know that Botox has a much longer history. In fact, the most popular cosmetic procedure in the United States has its roots in important therapies for chronic conditions. Botox continues to be used for its astounding – and sometimes counterintuitive – benefits.

What makes Botox so useful for therapy? It’s made from botulinum toxin, which has the ability to inhibit nerve impulses at targeted sites. A Botox injection causes targeted muscles to relax. When applied to the face, this allows other muscles to stretch, which erases the appearance of wrinkles. As a result, Botox has helped millions as a non-surgical alternative to facelift. Doctors have taken advantage of this relaxing effect to help people with chronic conditions linked to muscles.

1. Muscle Spasms

For thousands of Americans, muscle spasms are a daily problem. They can be caused by stroke, brain injury, or other neurological problems. Muscles can spasm spontaneously, or remain clenched over long periods, which can be painful and debilitating. Due to its ability to relax targeted muscles, Botox is able to help in physical recovery and rehabilitation.

Despite the development of other drugs, Botox often remains the treatment of choice. A recent article in the UK Daily Mail profiled a young woman who had suffered a stroke at the age of 15. During her recovery, her right fist was continually clenched, which made it difficult for her to perform daily tasks. Doctors applied Botox so that she could finally relax her hand. Other muscle relaxants were considered, but would have had broader side effects throughout her body.

2. Teeth Grinding

This common habit often occurs at night, when people are sleeping. Over time, teeth grinding often results in cracked or worn-down teeth. ABC News reports that by relaxing certain jaw muscles, Botox is able to diminish – and sometimes even eliminate – teeth grinding.

3. Migraine Headaches

If you have ever experienced a migraine, you can understand the daily torture that chronic sufferers are forced to endure. These blinding headaches are sometimes caused by pressure on certain facial nerves. Research is shown that Botox, by relaxing certain muscles, can relieve pressure on these nerves. For a more permanent solution, many men and women have chosen brow lift surgery, which can also cure certain types of migraines.