“A picture is worth a thousand words”. It’s true, seeing a great before and after speaks volumes for a certain physician’s or practitioner’s abilities. Unfortunately, there are some deceptive practices that can trick the eyes into believing results are better than they are really are. Instagram is a showcase for the aesthetic industry, but there is no oversight as to the claims made on the photos displayed. The bullet points below will help one to develop a critical eye to discern the truth from the “fictional results”.
- Lightening must be the same in both pictures. A common misleading practice is to have a dark before picture and a light after picture. In the lighter picture, wrinkles and shadows are going to be less, and fool the observing into thinking these were related to the procedure.
- Angle of the neck/head must be the same in both pictures. Take a look at the nose and jaw to see if the head is in the exact same position. If the head is tilted more upward in the after picture, the neck will appear to have less fullness, less wrinkles, and be firmer. This is particularly popular in the Kybella before and after photos.
- The expression must be the same in both pictures. If a patients is partially smiling in the before and not in the after, the wrinkles around the mouth and cheek will appear falsely improved.
- Sculptra pictures should have at least a 3-6 month interval. Sculptra is always mixed with water or saline for reconstitution. The immediate results after injection reflect merely the effects of the water/saline and not that of Sculptra. The collagen stimulation from Sculptra will take at least 3 months to appreciate, with 6-9 months being even a better gauge of results.
- Using company photos or other physician’s photos without noting this or giving the appropriate credit on their websites or posts is also a common practice.
- If make-up is used, it must be similar in both photos. Too often the before has none and the after has make-up.
Perfect before and after photos are very challenging. Even when results are extraordinaire, there are often difficulties trying to capture these changes with the camera. However, purposely trying to “enhance” photos with the practices above must be pointed out to the practitioners.
In surgery, sterile technique is “the law”. Any break in sterility places the patient at risk for a potentially life threatening infection. It is the duty for the surgeon(s), scrub tech, and circulating nurse to self report or call out any suspected or potential contamination risk. Immediate actions are taken to remedy the situation and to limit the risk to patient.
Why should dermal fillers be treated as anything differently? They shouldn’t! Fillers are semipermanent or permanent implants, and they must be administered in aseptic technique. The majority of injectors are not trained as surgeons and therefore don’t fully comprehend what sterile technique entails. Granulomas, one of the more serious complications from fillers, have now been traced to biofilms. Biofilms are latent bacteria that somehow get activated and present as infection or granulomas, months to years after the initial injection. Most often biofilms are deposited in the tissues during the initial injection procedure. Clearing infections or granulomas takes weeks or months to clear and often entails antibiotics, steroids, 5 FU, and hyaluronidase (if a hyaluronic acid was used).
The following guidelines should serve as a reference for physicians and nurses to minimize infectious complications during dermal filler injections.
- The patient should clean their face thoroughly with soap and water in the office. All make-up must be removed.
- Never inject someone with a current/ongoing infection. Even if the infection is not in the area of the dermal filler, bacteria can seed the filler from distant areas through the bloodstream (bactermia).
- If a patient is in the process of getting dental work or even dental cleanings, hold off on injections until after the work has been completed. Bactermia is well documented during dental cleanings. It is recommended to wait at least 2 weeks after fillers to get dental cleanings. The areas of filler placement will initially have increased blood flow (hyperemia) so it is best to wait until this settles down.
- Skin should be prepped for injection with chlorhexidine, with Hibiclens being the preferred form by the author. Although isopropyl alcohol (70%) is effective in killing bacteria and fungus, it is only effective for seconds and becomes ineffective as soon as it evaporates. Hibiclens kills germs on contact and will give persistent bactericidal effects for at least 6 hours, and up to 24 hours. It will bond with the skin even after washing to give continued killing effects. Isopropyl alcohol doesn’t give this lasting bactericidal effect, so anytime after the initial cleaning that an unsterile glove touches the skin, that area is now contaminated. (Hibiclens must be kept out of the eyes because it can burn the cornea). Technicare is also a great antiseptic but the author doesn’t have experience with it. Too many patients are allergic to Betadine for it to be used routinely.
- Do not use tap water when applying Hibiclens or to clean the face after completion of the injections. There are several bacteria, fungi, as well as mycobacterium in water which can seep through the injection ports and cause infection.
- If the filler is prepared by mixing lidocaine or saline, this must be done in a sterile fashion. The female/female connector used to connect the 2 syringes together must not be reused. It can only be used for the current patient and cannot be sterilized for use on other patients. The tops of all the solutions used must be wiped with an alcohol wipe. Routine use of blending fillers opens up more avenues for filler contamination and must be done with the strictest of sterile technique. If any of the solution vials becomes unsterile, all future filler patients using that vial will become infected.
- Blunt tip cannulas can be used for multiple injection sites ON THE SAME PATIENT and are not intended to be used for multiple patients. When changing the cannulas between syringes, they should be recapped first. It is not sterile technique to lay the cannula on an unsterile tray or even a sterile drape when uncapped. After a syringe of filler is removed from its sterile packaging, the areas touched with the exam gloves become “contaminated”. Therefore, the sterile drape is not a sterile field anymore, once the syringes is placed on it. Best practice is to cap the syringe every time it is laid down.
- Blunt cannulas are much longer than needles and must be kept sterile throughout their entire length. The cannula is contaminated if anywhere along its length it touches non sterilized skin, gloves, or hair.
- It is never appropriate to touch a needle or cannula with unsterile gloves. The needle/cannula are now contaminated and must be exchanged.
- The introducing needle for the pilot hole with cannula use must be recapped as well to maintain sterility.
- Unless the gauze used during the procedure is specifically labeled as sterile, it is not, and introduces another route of contamination. Gauze that comes in sealed pull away packs and labeled as sterile is best to use. The author will take unsterile gauze, place in autoclave packs, and place in the autoclave to obtain sterility.
- Frequent “re-sterilization” of the areas being treated with Hibiclens soaked gauze is done by the author.
- If ice or devices for vibration are used to control discomfort, these should be cleansed with Hibiclens prior to applying to the skin. In addition, the areas where these were applied should be “re-sterilized” prior to injections.
- When the procedure is complete, sterile water or saline on sterile gauze should be used to clean the patient. Again, if tap water is used, this can seep through the injection ports and lead to infection. Also, when soaking the gauze, best practice is to pour the water/saline over the sink onto the sterile gauze so as to keep the remaining fluid in the container sterile. By tipping the water/saline onto gauze that is covering the top, there is risk of contamination going back into the container.
- Make-up should not be applied to the skin until the morning. At this point, the injection ports have all healed and there is no risk of contamination.
- Dental procedures, even cleanings, should be postponed for at least 2 weeks.
Although the details above are fairly lengthy, any break from any step will lead to a possible source of granuloma or infection in the future. Strict sterile technique will lead to better outcomes and happier patients,
A couple years ago, I wrote a blog that stated deep injections along the periostium using Sculptra were the best way to enhance temples suffering from volume loss. I would like to update everyone to a newer technique I have perfected that gives better results.
Although the Sculptra temple injections are safe and long lasting, there were deficiencies:
- Multiple treatments were required – 3 or more
- Results take weeks or months to occur
- Final results still showed volume loss in the temporal fusion line and supraorbital area
- Significant volumes of Sculptra were required
- Needle injections inherently lead to more bruising than cannulas
The temporal fossae is a very large space and when Sculptra is injected in this area, there is tremendous spread of the product due to its watery consistency. In addition, the deep temporal fascia is a thick and unyielding tissue plane that resists lateral movement from filler placed deeply.
My current preference for volumizing the temples uses large (23g) cannulas and a diluted HA (Refyne) dermal filler. I use large cannulas because they are safer than the smaller cannulas and needles for preventing vascular occlusion. I have found that the larger cannulas navigate the numerous veins in the temples well with minimal discomfort. My entry point is the zygomatic arch, about 1 cm posterior to the brow. The plane of injection is between the superficial temporal fascia and the deep temporal fascia. This is the exact area where the temporal fat pad is situated and where fat loss occurs. Surrounding areas such as the superior orbital rim, supraorbital area, forehead, and hairline can all be injected from the temporal approach. By diluting the Restylane Refyne with 1cc of saline and 1cc of lidocaine 1%, the thinner product is able to distribute very evenly throughout the plane of injection. Refyne’s high tissue integration and low swelling properties makes this the optimal filler for this area. I have found that a total of 1-2 syringes of the filler is needed to achieve correction in most patients. Massaging at the time of injection and periodically afterwards by the patient will give the smoothest results. A follow up in 3 weeks is typically made to make final touch ups if needed.
Techniques must constantly be re-evaluated and refined to achieve the optimal and safest results for our patients.
Aesthetic physicians are constantly striving to find the best procedure/device to turn back time. This time, it is actually a procedure which has been used for decades, but with some modifications. Fat grafting is a procedure that harvests fat from one part of the body and then injects the fat into another area. It has been used to volumize the aging face, hands, and even breasts. Benefits of fat grafting in repairing slowing healing wounds and radiated tissue have shown there are additional qualities to this procedure other than just volume. It turns out that fat contains stem cells and growth factors, more than any other tissue in the body, even more than bone marrow. The component of the fat that contains the stem cells and growth factors is called the “stromal vascular fraction”, also know as SVF.
When digging down into the research, an interesting finding has been discovered. It turns out that most of the fat cells injected don’t actually survive. What actually happens is that the stems cells (Adipose Derived Stem Cells – ADSC) injected along with the fat cells (SVF) leads to new fat cell production.
So here’s the new modification of the procedure. There is new a way to separate the SVF from the fat, without affecting the viability of the stem cells. This process creates the so called Nanofat, a highly concentrated solution of stem cells and growth factors.
It is a process of using filters and screens which takes less than 15 minutes to perform. It turns out that fat cells make up about 80% of the volume of the fat extracted during the harvest. The filtration system leads to destruction of the fat cells (which don’t live anyways) and leads to a much thinner solution which can be injected using smaller cannulas or needles than typical fat grafting procedures.
It turns out that Nanofat actually contains little to no viable fat but is the popular term for the SVF derived from fat. To even further “energize” the Nanofat injections, PRP or PRF is mixed with the solution. This process gives additional growth factors which benefit in the fat production and overall repair and rejuvenation of the areas treated.
Nanofat injections are often combined with fat grafting which is modified from the classical method. It has been found that the inconsistent “take” and lumpiness of fat grafting is related to large size and nonuniformity of the fat harvested. To overcome these hurdles, the harvesting process is now done with smaller cannulas and the fat is pushed thru filters to make uniformly smaller sized fat globules.
Nanofat is useful to treat:
- Crepey skin around the eyes
- Superficial lines and wrinkles
- Smoker’s lip lines
- Thin, atrophied skin
- Severely sun damaged skin (in combination with other procedures)
The use of Nanofat, with or without fat grafting, requires a minor liposuction procedure to harvest the cells. This is done completely under local anesthesia. Only syringes are used as suction and the cannulas used are much smaller than typical liposuction. There will be some downtime of swelling, bruising, and redness, that typically lasts a few days or up to a week (longer in a minority of patients). Full results require about 9 months to fully appreciate – the time required for new fat and skin cells to be generated.
We now have a completely natural way to rejuvenate and reverse the affects of aging, using stem cells derived from fat cells – Nanofat. The process of isolation of the stem cells and growth factors from fat has become an extremely viable option with a 90 minute procedure.
The adoption of dermal fillers for age related volume replacement has contributed to the surge in aesthetic patients. As patients become more savvy, it becomes obvious that filler outcomes are dependent primarily on the provider and not the brand of the filler injected. Somewhere between 80-90% of the fillers used are based on Hyaluronic Acid, a naturally occurring substance found throughout the skin, and joints. (It is an interesting side note that the structure of HA is similar throughout all species.) One of the attractive qualities of HA is that there is an “antidote”, an enzyme called hyaluronidase, which can dissolve HA based dermal fillers.
There are several versions of hyaluronidase available in the US. There are animal based products such as Vitrase (ovine based), Hydase (bovine), and Amphadase (bovine). The one product, Hylenex, is actually a recombinant form of the human hyaluronidase. There is some risk of allergic reaction to the animal based products but not Hylenex (author’s preferred choice). The intended use of hyaluronidase is to allow for increased tissue permeability, thereby allowing for greater dispersion and delivery of products injected. It is also used when hyperosmolar fluids extravasate into the skin and in improving uptake of radiopaque solutions in the bladder. The primary reason it is used in aesthetics is to dissolve HA filler.
The reasons to dissolve HA filler are:
- Poorly placed filler giving an aesthetically poor result
- Where too much filler was placed
- Filler that is infected
- Filler is forming a granuloma
- Filler is causing ischemia/vascular occlusion
- Filler is causing visual changes or blindness
The are more and more fillers being introduced to the market each year. Each one has it’s own characteristics and nuances when injecting. There are also, many new injectors entering the industry daily. It is fair to say that the number of poor outcomes and complications is inevitably going to rise. Unfortunately, trainings are not being done for the indications and administration of hyaluronidase. It is beyond comprehension that there are many offices, I dare say, a majority, who either don’t normally have any or adequate doses of hyaluronidase.
It is absolutely imperative that a facility that injects HA fillers stock at least 1000 units of hyaluronidase. Doses of 400 units or more need to be injected in areas of vascular occlusion immediately to achieve optimal outcomes. If no response, additional doses need to be injected. If an ophthalmologic complication occurs, at least 1000 units needs to be injected immediately to have any chance for recovery of vision. Even with doses in the thousands of units, there should be no concern regarding loss of naturally occurring hyaluronic acid as it will replaced by the body’s normal regenerative process over 24-48 hours.
Unfortunately, the majority of providers have little or no experience with hyaluronidase and/or have none available in their facilities. It is beyond comprehension the lack of preparedness for not only reversing poor outcomes, but in resolving medical emergencies. The industry must rise up to educate about complication identification and treatment protocols. Poor outcomes and complications affect the entire aesthetics field and not just the individuals involved.
The nonsurgical aesthetic industry has finally hit an important milestone. Using a combination of techniques, cosmetic physicians are now able to halt, and even reverse, the age-related changes which occur to one’s face. In the past, technologies would allow for turning back time for a few years but eventually, the inevitable and undeniable signs of aging would occur. As lasers, radiofrequency (RF), filler and neuromodulator techniques have improved, the aging face is a thing of the past. The concept of “age freezing”, keeping ones looks for a decade or more, is not merely a dream, but reality. More importantly, this all can be done without surgery!
Not everyone is a candidate for “Age Freezing” unfortunately. The stipulations are:
- Must be a nonsmoker – There are several significant skin and health issues associated with smoker which can’t be overcome. Many procedures require healing and collagen stimulation which are inhibited by smoking.
- Free of chronic debilitating disease – There are tolls long term diseases take on the body which lead to premature aging, cellular changes.
- Stable weight – As Katherine Deneuve once stated, at the age of 40, you must decide between your ass or your face. If you lose too much weight, fat is lost from your face. In most instances, this can be overcome but not always. However, in patients with significant weight gains, there can be some difficulties maintaining the same look one had in the years prior.
- Alcohol consumption in moderation – Alcohol can take a toll on the body in the long run when taken in excess. 1-2 drinks per day is the recommended maximum intake that the author recommends.
- Healthy lifestyle and diet – Although this topic overlaps some of the previously mentioned necessities, a good exercise regime is also required. The benefits of exercise on weight, hormones, circulation all benefit the facial appearance. Obviously, a well-rounded diet full of antioxidants, vitamins, and nutrients is beneficial too. There is research to support telomere lengthening with these measures as well.
The requisite procedures for “Age Freezing” are:
- Neurotoxins on a regular basis. Relaxing the hyperdynamic muscles of the face with either Dysport or Botox needs to be performed at least 3 times per year. The regularity is needed to keep the muscles weak and prohibiting them from regaining strength.
- Dermal Fillers for lost volume. Fillers are the epicenter of the whole “Age Freezing” concept. Beginning in the mid 30’s, at least a cc of volume is lost per year. This is the result of fat, bone, and muscle loss. Replacing and keeping up with this process is tantamount to looking young. Large volumes are best replaced with using Sculptra, a collagen stimulating filler. It is best to recreate the foundation with Sculptra. Superficial fine tuning is best performed with a hyaluronic acid filler, such as Restylane. New techniques using blunt cannulas permitted safer, less downtime procedures. A comprehensive understanding of the aging process has enlightened our specialty as to what needs to be corrected for accomplishing age reversal.
- Skin Tightening to reverse gravity. The constant downward pull due to gravity leads to skin laxity, above and beyond what is attributable to volume loss. Devices that heat up the dermis will stimulate collagen and tissue contraction. Devices vary in their ability to tighten, often with a tradeoff of more downtime/discomfort/risk for more results. Ablative lasers, CO2 and Erbium, will give the most tightening for lasers. Radiofrequency can also be used, with the microneedling RF, such as Infini, giving the best results. A new procedure called JPlasma, looks like it may have promise in significant tightening, but does have about 14 days of downtime and a month of redness.
- Skin Resurfacing to improve pigmentation, fine lines, and thicken the dermis. The aging process, primarily due to sun exposure, causes skin to thin with loss of collagen and elastin. Dyspigmentation, pigmentation problems, occurs as well. Renewing the surface of the skin can be accomplished using lasers, such as the Fraxel Dual, or chemical peels. Microneedling can thicken the skin by producing small injuries in the dermis with very little downtime or risks. There may be benefit to adding PRP, platelet rich plasma, to the skin, but the jury is still out.
- Skin Care is essential to achieve the optimal results from any of the above mention procedures as well as to improve one’s skin health. Retin A or Retinol should be a staple in one’s nightly regime. These products stimulate skin turnover, reversal of pigmentation problems, better hydration with hyaluronic acid stimulation, and collagen production. Blemishes/Acne breakouts are improved with these products as well.
- Oral Supplements are key to good, healthy skin. Oxidants are the source of disease, cancer, aging, and skin damage. To neutralize the oxidative stress, strong anti-oxidant supplement(s) are necessary. Examples include: superoxide dismutase, fish oils, resveratrol, Polypodium leucotomos, turmeric, and glutathione. In addition, the antiaging benefits of Metformin are hard to dismiss with the current research published. Lengthening one’s telomeres with TA65 is probably beneficial as well.
One must understand that the “Age Freezing” concept is a process. It is a lifestyle, a choice. It is not a “one and done” procedure. It consists of regular visits to an aesthetic physician. There are big steps and little steps along the way. The author has dozens of “Age Freezing” patients whom look younger and better, 10 or more years after initiating treatments. “Age Freezing” will eliminated the need for future cosmetic surgery.
It’s been touted for years by the aesthetic physicians – “Prejuvenation” – starting maintenance treatments in one’s late teens or early twenties. The Kardashians have popularized these minor cosmetic tweaks to stay youthful and refreshed with visits to their Beverly Hills physician, documented regularly on “Keeping Up with the Kardashians”. There is increasing pressure to get that perfect selfie for Instagram or to look cool and attractive on a “Snap”. Unfortunately filters don’t work well with videos unless you want to look like a cute puppy. Doctors are in agreement (for any disease process) that it is much easier to treat problems in their early stages than to reverse them after they have spiraled out of control. Small preventative treatments early on, can maintain and even enhance one’s looks for many years and avoid invasive surgical procedures in the future. The question is, which procedures should be considered for Prejuevenation?
Neuromodulators: These wrinkle improving injections take less than 5 minutes and have no downtime. Millions of these procedures are done each year and it is the most popular cosmetic procedure performed worldwide. Most often these are used in the younger population in the frown lines (glabella), forehead lines, and crows feet. Treating these areas before the lines set in at rest, known as “etched in” lines, is one of the fundamental concepts of Prejuvenation. (Suggestions: Dysport, Botox)
Dermal Fillers: Dermal fillers made from hyaluronic acid (HA) are used to improve the minor volume loss which occurs with age. In the more athletic patients, fat loss can be appreciated in the face as well as throughout the body. Supple enhancements can be added to the mid cheek and around the eye to stave off this premature volume loss. HA fillers are also used to plump up the lips to create a youthful appearance. (Suggestions: Restylane Refyne, Restylane L, Restylane Lyft, Sculptra)
Chemical Peels: To keep the skin in top notch shape and to reverse early sun damage, chemical peels can exfoliate the superficial layers of skin. This renews the texture and pigmentation and leaves a youthful and glowing quality to the skin. (Suggestions: Illuminize, Vitalize, ZO 3 Step Peel)
Skin care: Great skin care is the basis for good looking skin. Most would agree that some type of Retin A or Retinol is essential for maintaining youthful skin. These products lead to increased turnover of the skin cells, improve dyspigmentation (pigmentation problems), thicken the skin, and create a more hydrated skin. Sun protection with an SPF should be part of one’s daily regime. It is also highly recommended to apply growth factors to the skin to reverse the aging process. (Suggestions: ZO Skin Health, Lifeline Stem Cell Skincare)
Prejuvenation is a trend that is here to stay. Preventative maintenance will prolong the need for more aggressive corrections in the later years. With short, no downtime procedures such as neuromodulators, chemical peels, fillers, and a good skin care regime, youthful, natural appearances will persist for years. Stay ahead of the curve with Prejuvenation.
Acne affects millions of people in the US, and is the most common reason to seek medical attention from a Dermatologist. Billions of dollars are spent on medications to control the disease, both over the counter and prescription. Medications have potential side effects, and compliance is difficult. Even with aggressive medical therapy, acne can be difficult to control, which leads to frustration by patients, parents, and physicians. With prolonged cases of acne, scarring can set in, creating an even more difficult problem to treat.
It’s the early teen years, as one is experiencing puberty, when acne usually starts. This period coincides with high school, selfies, and an interest in dating. Acne can negatively impact social interactions and lead to depression, moodiness, negative self-worth, and isolation. Controlling acne is a top priority for large number of teenagers in the US.
A cascade of events leads to acne:
- A trigger: hormonal, emotional, stress, metabolic
- Increased sebum (oil) production from sebaceous glands
- Plugging of the follicles by the sebum
- Infection of the sebum by bacteria
- Inflammation related to the infection/immune response
Treating acne with lasers is not a new concept, but the Aerolase has made the process more effective and safer. Even the wavelength, 1064nm YAG laser, is not novel to the Aerolase. However, having a pulse width of 650 microseconds is unique. The Aerolase sits in the middle of the prior lasers used to treat acne, the Q Switched (nanosecond) and the Excel V/VBeam (millisecond). It has been shown that this pulse width is better tolerated than faster and slower lasers, and therefore more pulses and even stacking can occur. Deeper and more broadly-based heating occurs with the Aerolase. With the increased heating of the acne, the laser becomes more effective in its eradication. The 1064 wavelength is safe for all skin types, but settings are reduced for the darker skin patients. The Aerolase laser treats acne by:
- Heating up and shrinking the sebaceous glands leading to lower sebum output
- Killing the acne bacteria
- Reducing the redness associated with the acne
- Improving early scarring
- Reducing the inflammatory component of acne
Typically, a series of treatments are needed, 4-6, about a week or two apart. Touch ups are needed every 1-3 months. Flairs should be treated acutely, so they are controlled quickly. Continues use of topical therapy is usually recommended, such as Retin A and benzyl peroxide. The Aerolase gives patients a unique, no downtime, near painless 10-minute procedure to help control even the most difficult cystic acne.
“Get rid of that Instagram filter and show your true selfie.”
The addition of the CoolAdvantage handpieces, Zimmer Z Wave, and a 2nd Coolsculpting machine, treatments are faster, more comfortable, and with better outcomes.