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Aging is Beautiful, But Botox Is Selling

More midlife women — and men — seek nonsurgical fixes to erase years

By Jeanne Dorin | June 3, 2014

When you get older, you have to be ready to trade your bottom for your face.

That famous quote is attributed to French actress Catherine Deneuve, who, by the way, never had to choose. But the essence of what Deneuve allegedly said reflects the conundrum of aging and beauty for the rest of us: A face that is somewhat plumped up tends to look younger. But a full visage also typically goes along with a more ample tush.

But with a nod to Deneuve, still ravishing at 71, you don't have to choose anymore between fanny or face.

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A variety of non-invasive anti-aging procedures now promise to erase bags, sags, lines, wrinkles and brown spots for women and men — and sometimes in 20 minutes or on a lunch break.

Should You or Shouldn’t You?

Although these procedures are tempting — not to mention as readily available as candy in a candy store — going down this road is not a choice to be taken lightly. Being comfortable in your own skin (literally) is a key to aging well and happily. 

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The debate continues over whether erasing signs of aging is a kind of self-loathing that can, in fact, perpetuate ageism, a point of view eloquently expressed previously on Next Avenue

Even a number of Hollywood actresses like Jamie Lee Curtis, Diane Keaton and Emma Thompson have publicly denounced nips and tucks, though admitting to a touch of Botox here and there. And Hot in Cleveland's ever-adorable Valerie Bertinelli has expressed her own ambivalence. "I'm not judging; we all want to feel better about ourselves ... I don't want to look different from what people are used to ... Of course, talk to me in 10 years...," she said.

Another viewpoint is that the way we present ourselves has a lot to do with the attention and power we get in the world and with how we feel about ourselves, as Faye Wattleton explained in this video.

Hollywood and Mainstream

One thing is clear, however. More people are opting for anti-aging procedures. Once the domain of aging Hollywood stars and rich matrons, they have filtered down to the masses, and the trend is growing each year.

In its most recent annual report the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) found that minimally-invasive cosmetic procedures increased 3 percent in 2013 over the previous year. Botox injections alone are up 700 percent since 2000. And one popular injectable filler, hyaluronic acid (more commonly known as Restylane or Juvederm), was up 18 percent in the number of procedures performed last year alone.

The five most common non-surgical procedures: Botox, soft-tissue injectable fillers, chemical peels, laser hair removal and microdermabrasion.

On the Menu

For many people, non-invasive procedures are a good bridge between heavy-duty moisturizing creams and full-on plastic surgery. The risks are usually minimal, and the results are closer to a facial freshening than a complete overhaul.

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"The beautiful thing about minimally-invasive procedures is that they are dramatic enough to make a difference, but not too obvious," says New York plastic surgeon Scot Glasberg, who is president-elect of the ASPS. "You can go to work the next day looking more relaxed and refreshed."

Here's a rundown of some of your options:

1. Botulinum toxins Commonly known as Botox, Dysport and Xeomin, these provide a temporary fix for forehead wrinkles and those lines between your eyes that make you look mad. In small doses, they relax the clenched facial muscles, deeper frown lines and lines around the lips.

2. Dermal fillers Containing hyaluronic acid, injectable fillers with brand names such as Juvederm and Restylane are good for the lower half of the face, especially "marionette" lines extending from your nose down to your chin. As you age, you tend to lose fat in your face, and fillers add volume by filling in wrinkles and lines and sometimes plumping up areas that have lost fat (such as under the eyes and on the cheeks).

3. Microdermabrasion Sometimes referred to as the "power peel," microdermabrasion blasts the skin with tiny crystals that exfoliate the outer layer and reduces fine lines, brown spots and mild scars from acne.

According to Beverly Hills dermatologist Dr. Rhonda Rand, microdermabrasion is popular among men because it reduces facial blood vessels and improves the overall look of the skin; women tend to prefer Botox and injectable fillers.
 
4. Radio frequency Using heat to stimulate the body's production of collagen tightens the skin. It can be painful but is sometime used to tighten a double chin and area underneath the jaw.

5. Laser resurfacing Brown spots on your hands and face are one of the most annoying aging giveaways, but nonablative lasers can remove them without damaging the outer layer of the skin. Lasers are also used to firm up a loose neck; they stimulate collagen production and improve skin tone and surface.

Pros and Cons

Open the pages of any celebrity magazine and you will see examples of Botox and fillers gone wild — lips so plumped up they look like a fish mouth and pumpkin faces that suggest a pharmaceutical side-effect rather than youth. 
 
But perhaps the biggest potential downside of cosmetic procedures? People get carried away.

"Start slow," advises Rand. "Don't do everything in one day. And go to someone who has a good aesthetic sense. This is an art. A lot of people think when you age, you lose fat in your face and therefore you should have a puffy face (to look younger). But there's a happy medium."

Moreover, non-invasive treatments are pricey and should be administered by a professional.
 
And don't initiate them when you're in a bad emotional state, advises Glasberg. While many over 50 are concerned with looking tighter and younger — especially if you're back in the job market or looking for romance — you want to be able to look in the mirror and recognize the face looking back at you.

Jeanne Dorin is a Los Angeles-based writer who often covers health and wellness.