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