I'm turning 40 this year. Not for several months yet, but it will come before the year is out indeed. I feel pretty good about 40: I can run faster than I could ten years ago, I'm a better skier, and I dare say I love the dash of wisdom that comes with experience.
And it’s a relief to no longer need to please everyone. I don’t like camping. My half hour every morning with tea and the newspaper is sacred so don’t bug me while I’m reading. I like cheesy chick-flicks. I eat red meat. I drink wine. I know what to do if I get lost in a foreign city. And if I had a boyfriend, I would no longer need to win his mother’s approval. Who cares about my dwindling portfolio – that’s what I call freedom.
But with age also comes a few wrinkles. Those I don’t like as much as the freedom of knowing who I am. I know it’s not cool to admit that it bothers me – a little – that my crow’s feet are creeping closer and closer to the brackets around my mouth, but it does (a little).
And despite religiously slathering on the sunscreen, even in the dreary doldrums of winter, I have the odd sunspot, which looks nothing like the cute little freckles I had as a kid. And if you’re my age or older, you may notice a few little red veins around your nose or cheek. Mother Nature, have you no mercy???
And then there’s my neck. I used to like my neck. It’s long. But now there is this funny loosening happening all the way down its front and it’s all starting to sag. It’s worse the morning after I’ve had more than two glasses of wine.
Am I obsessing? If I am, I’m not alone. My dermatologist says the neck is now one of the top areas of concern for his patients. And his practice is growing exponentially.
The good news, of course, is there’s a lot to be done about some of the above “concerns”. From lasers to injections, the field of non-invasive cosmetic procedures is vast. And what’s really exciting is that many of the treatments actually work, which is a lot more than I can say for the multitude of lies and rip-offs for sale at the drugstore.
The area of products and procedures that sits between the beauty counter and a visit to a plastic surgeon is still new, and perhaps that’s why some treat it as hush-hush – like going off to get a face lift. But the whole point is that they’re non-invasive treatments. Is it really any different than having your hair coloured?
Here are a few treatments I’ve tried:
Intense Pulse Light
Treats brown sun spots and veins. It takes about 20 minutes while they run a laser wand a few times over your face (or wherever you’re having it done) and around four sessions to see optimal results, but after two treatments I can see some improvement. You need to wear protective eye shields as a bright light flashes with each pulse and it feels like rubber bands snapping against your skin, so be prepared for a bit of discomfort. Personally, I find it extremely uncomfortable.
On a scale of 1 to 10, I rate this one a 6 for effectiveness, but I’m going back for two more treatments so I’m hopeful that rating will improve.
Its goal is to improve facial and body tightening by using radio-frequency technology to stimulate new collagen growth, which reduces the signs of aging. It is said to be useful for patients who have mild to moderate sagging and the claim is that it’s a proactive treatment to help prevent further sagging. The session lasts about 2 hours and it takes 4 to 6 months to see results, which are moderate at best.
I also rate this treatment a 6 out of 10 as I’m not sure I can see any change, but I like the idea that it’s a preventative procedure. And there have been several studies showing this technology does provide modest improvement.
Injectables (Or in other words, Botox.)
Yes, I know it’s poison, but I fail to understand why Botox is routinely frowned upon. Botox is also used to treat excessively sweaty hands and armpits and no one bats an eye at that.
Peroxide-based hair colour? No problem! Toxic fumes wafting from the salon where you’re having your fake nails adhered and your toes covered with toxic paint? Bring it on.
Botox has an excellent track record and it works like nothing else I have ever seen, yet this is the one cosmetic treatment people just plain lie about. We all talk about the others, the nails, the hair, the lasers. Why not Botox? Just because you get the odd shot of Vitamin B (as it’s lovingly known), does not a Nicole Kidman you make!
For some reason, mention the word Botox and people go to extremes to deny it. I was at a dinner party recently and the woman in her 40s next to me said that she’d recently been asked for ID when buying cigarettes. The boy behind the counter reportedly asked her if she’d had “any work done, like Botox”. Definitely not, she cooed to me, taking a deep drag of her Marlborough Lite. Now, I know some people are just plain lucky when it comes to aging, but nothing will give you old wrinkled skin faster than smoking. I was sitting very close, and her forehead was suspiciously smooth.
It’s a fact: Botox is one of the most popular aesthetic procedures done in the world today. So even though we all deny it, SOMEONE’S getting it done.
The first time I tried Botox I was floored. I just wanted those deepening railroads between my eyes addressed. It took five minutes and I barely felt a thing. Two days later, the lines had vanished. Poof. Six months later they came back, but much less so. Yes it’s vain, but what’s the difference between this and the more socially acceptable fancy face cream that promises the same result but doesn’t deliver? I no longer spend money on those expensive face creams. SPF everyday and a little Botox once a year and I come out ahead looking a teensy bit younger doing it.
I rate Botox a solid 9 out of 10. It’s like magic.
If you decide to try Botox (or other injectables like Juvaderm or Restylane), be absolutely sure you go to a professional who comes recommended because it’s something of an art. I recently saw a poster on a bus shelter for a dentist offering Botox injections. Do not go to the dentist for Botox!
I’m still waiting for the geniuses who invented Botox to come up with a solution for my neck. I’ve heard Fraxel might help, but based on the pictures I’ve seen, I’m not convinced. Plus it involves several days of down time. My collection of turtlenecks is growing.
And in closing, please note that the photos on this page have been touched up.
Have you got non-invasive treatment recommendations? I’d love to hear them. Post your comments below.