Blog Update!
For those of you not following me on Facebook, as of the Summer of 2019 I've moved to Central WA, to a tiny mountain town of less than 1,000 people.

I will be covering my exploits here in the Cascades, as I try to further reduce my impact on the environment. With the same attitude, just at a higher altitude!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Eco-friendly cosmetic procedures

I know what you are saying. Is there such a thing as eco-friendly cosmetic surgery? Well, no, there's not. But some procedures are better than others and I intend to cover them here. So, sit down, relax those furrowed brows and read on.

When I was down in Eugene last week, one woman who had stopped in to watch a preview of the pilot of Mission: Sustainable asked me for some suggestions about eco-friendly anti-aging products. This sweet older woman was convinced (and lamenting) that if she had stooped to using more traditional anti-aging products over the years, her face would look a lot younger. She did have a fairly heavily-lined face that made her look a lot older than she probably was and I could tell she was really troubled by it.

Because this isn't the first time people have asked me about anti-aging products, I figure it's about time I tackled the whole subject. I know we are all concerned about going green, but many are also concerned with looking younger or, at least, our age. Should environmentalists have to skip out on everything? I don't think so.

In today's post I'm going to start with the heavy hitters. And by that, I mean cosmetic procedures. I'll follow-up with a look at anti-aging skincare soon, but for older women, where anti-aging products probably aren't going to help as much in comparison, they are going to be considering something you can't get out of a box from the local store.

So, let's begin with the most popular procedures used to combat wrinkles that I think are the safest and most eco-friendly: fillers and Botox.

Fat fillers
Fat fillers are used to plump up hollow cheeks, thin lips, an aging forehead, eyes, and scars. There is no issue with a foreign substance in your body as the fat used in the injection is taken directly from another area of your body. The fat cells are removed from the butt, stomach, or thighs, processed and purified and then injected beneath the skin into the target area.

Fat fillers never result in a 100% improvement and can last anywhere from a few weeks to a year. Since transplanted fat cells die without a blood supply within 3 - 4 days and since it takes 3 - 4 days until the first capillaries reach the injected fat cells, the "take" of fat cells isn't guaranteed. Some survive but most of them don't and are reabsorbed in the body.

So, if you are looking for long-term results, this procedure may work for you, but it also may just result in very short-term results as well. The best thing about it is you are experiencing the ultimate in recycling. You are basically just taking the fat you don't want out of one area and moving it to an area where you do want it. As we age, we lose fat in our faces, which makes us look older. Replacing that fat restores a more youthful look. Not quite back to the baby fat stage though no matter how much junk you have in your trunk to share!

Dermal fillers
Dermal fillers are administered by a physician (preferably a board-certified dermatologist, cosmetic or plastic surgeon). If you are interested in a filler to plump up lines, go with a temporary filler that is collagen based. Collagen injections can help erase frown lines, crow's feet and nasolabial folds or smile lines. It's also great for smoothing out scars.

Please stay away from the silicone or synthetic based fillers. Some synthetics are even designed to be more long-term, so if you don't like the results, you are stuck with them for a while or you can have them reversed by another procedure that essentially dissolves the material out.

You can go for a human-based or an animal-based collagen filler. Collagen fillers last for four or more months and the more you get it done, the longer it lasts as more and more of the collagen remains. There is a trade off if you choose an animal-based collagen filler because they have the risk of allergy associated with them. But, if you don't have an allergy, there should be little risk otherwise.

I can't say the same for synthetics like ArteFill, made from PMMA, a type of plastic. The reason why people choose a non-collagen filler (like ArteFill) is because they last longer. You are saving money over the long-term, but at what potential risk? They are FDA approved, but I'm not sure I would want an artificial substance injected into my face.

I still don't know what to make of Sculptra, another synthetic (but "biocompatible" whatever that means), and hyaluronic acid-based fillers like Restylane and Juvederm. Hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring polysaccharide (carbohydrate) that exists in human tissue, but I don't know how it is produced for these products and what the long-term issues of having in injected into your face are. Finally, there are some claims that the hyaluronic acid based fillers can trigger auto-immune diseases.

And, please. No collagen injections in your lips. Nobody looks good with that shit. I'm talking to you, Nicole Kidman.

Botox is the number one cosmetic procedure in the United States and is used as an anti-wrinkle treatment for crow's feet, frown lines, and to eliminate furrows in the forehead. It works by paralyzing facial muscles. Since it is a neurotoxin, there is a risk of it spreading beyond the treatment site and there is risk of losing some facial expressions if over-administered. I'm talking to you, Nicole Kidman. But, the effects last 4 - 6 months, so it, too, lasts only for the short-term.

Is Botox eco-friendly? Well, no medical procedure is eco-friendly since there is petroleum and plastic involved in the manufacture of the product and the syringe and a whole host of other things. But, Botox can be argued to be 'natural' in that it is a protein produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. Think of it as a bad canning job injected in your face. What's more natural than that?

Now, before y'all get your panties in a knot, I'm not suggesting you run out and pump your faces full of fat, collagen and Botulism. But, since I've been asked a number of times about anti-aging products and the like, it's better to know what your options are then not.

What about you? Have you ever considered fillers or Botox? If not, what's your opinion about the popularity of these procedures?

Fat fillers
Dermal fillers
Botulinum toxin


Sandy said...

Personally, I think that adjusting to our own aging processes is a natural part of our lives; while I miss the face and body I had in my 20's and 30's, I'm not as focused on physical appearance these days, so it doesn't really matter. I would never use the methods you explored...any of them. I prefer to work on my inner self. Of course, that's just me. I'm not condemning the process for those that feel they want it.

Lynne said...

While it may sound vain, I would seriously consider one of the dermal fillers like the fat or human collagen. The risks sound minimal and, when compared to something hugely drastic, like a face lift, it sounds reasonable.

Botox still scares me a bit. I know that thousands of women get it done every year, but I figure I'd be the one person that has permanent facial paralysis (although I'm not sure if that's even a risk?).

Even just getting a botched job and a droopy eyelid for six month is enough to scare me off.

I'd really love to hear from women who've had something like this done. What their experience was like and if it was worth it.

Kate said...

Personally, I just couldn't go there. I think taking good care of yourself, and reconciling yourself to a natural aging process is the best solution. Wear a sun hat and sunscreen to protect your skin. Don't smoke. Drink moderately. I like the quote about wrinkles showing where smiles have been, and also the one about the point of life not being to end up as a beautiful corpse, but rather to thoroughly use up the body we are given by making the most of the time we have.

It always seems helpful to me to remind myself to be grateful for my completely average appearance. There are plenty of people who struggle to come to terms with facial deformities, severe scarring, or other serious injuries. I can't see spending my money or resources just to disguise normal aging. -Just my two cents.

Holly said...

These don't seem to be "anti"-aging treatments, rather "post"-aging treatments. The best anti-aging, would involve taking care of yourself and protecting yourself from the sun. A good safe sunscreen or a simple hat with a brim in my opinion is the best course of action. Of course some folks are more "fortunate" to not have to combat as many wrinkles due to genetics. But start with taking care of yourself and remember what you put in your body comes out through your skin, your body's largest organ.

Farmer's Daughter said...

I'm too young to truly think about these... but I'm gonna go with a NO WAY! I'd never get them. The idea of a needle in my face, whether or not it contains botulism, is out.

For now, I'm just going to avoid any more sunburns and stay away from smoke.

hekates said...

If I had to go job seeking, I sure would use these.

Allie said...

I have never considered using any of those things (though Botox really does freak me out more than the rest of them). I feel I've earned every grey hair, and every wrinkle I may wind up with.

My value as a person should be related to my real qualities, not my transitory youth.

That being said, I don't judge people for doing stuff like that. We all have to choose our priorities; just because appearance isn't one of mine that doesn't mean it's wrong for it to be someone else's.