which nonsurgical cosmetic procedures actually work? a leading surgeon tells us the truth

Often enough most healthy aging programs tend to come down pretty decisively on one side or the other of the great cosmetic intervention divide, meaning they either think it’s great … or simply a great crock of doodoo’s. Frankly to me the majority appear to veer resolutely towards the latter and at least pay dutiful lip service to the notion that the surgeons help shouldn’t ever be required as their own fabulous program is all that you’re ever going to need to look 21 years young again. We wish!

The reality is it would seem that a good many of the seemingly eternally youthful looking anti-aging gurus splashed across much of our media may have at the very least had some kind of teensy outside assistance if you get my drift, but owning up to that fact is tantamount to saying …

‘Sure this’ll never actually make you look like I do but perhaps best think of it as each hope-filled investment helping to keep the dream alive.’ Kerching!

Here at The GYP, though we tend to espouse the lifestyle intervention as a first and primary port of call, we also don’t see cosmetic work as any kind of never–to-be-touched evil providing it’s undertaken along with all of the rest of our program and equally performed by a suitably qualified professional – more on this small but oh-so-important hot potato later.

Frankly you’d have to be from Mars to not realise that an ever growing percentage of us are increasingly interested in how the good doctors might be able to help us slow down the inevitable … even if just a little. Across the world the stats decry annual year on year increases in cosmetic procedures of 12% in the US in 2013 to 17% for the same period in the UK. So to take some kind of moral high ground here seems to us to deny that fact that clearly a great many of us want it and so it would seem logical then to offer some good, clear and ethical guidance on what and how.

To get that clear and unbiased advice on what actually works I turned to Dr Charles Nduka, who is not only one of the UK’s leading experts in all facets of aesthetic and cosmetic surgery, but is also a highly accomplished consultant plastic and reconstructive surgeon, while at the same time somehow finding space to research and publish many papers in his field. Whilst there’ll be more in another post on the surgical procedures what we focused on was in Charles’ words patients wanting to avoid the knife’

Look there are many, many people out there offering all manner of ‘brand new, cutting edge, revolutionary’ and very, very sciencey sounding treatments which promise to leave you with the peachy skin of a 14 year old virgin but our own resident expert in fact managed to whittle that vast and seemingly endless list down to five. Yep, that’s right. Out of that whole world of possible youth restoring gizmos and doodads just five interventions that he believes and has seen actually work. And what were they? Ok then let’s get to it …

  1. Use a good sunscreen. Was that just a little disappointing? This comes up every single time and is in fact possibly the single ingredient that actually allows most anti-aging cosmetic manufacturers to legally put the term ‘anti-aging’ on their bottles of highly priced goop without being sued. As Charles tells us,

‘So we know for a fact that one of the most powerful causes of skin and DNA damage especially is ultraviolet light (and) obviously we know about (the benefits of) sunscreen. Unfortunately, many people apply sunscreen based on the SPF, forgetting about the fact that how that’s calculated is based on the certain type and manufacture of cream and the frequency of application. People very, very often do not use the sunscreen effectively, you know–i.e., it’s not applied frequently enough or not in a high enough SPF.’

  1. The next step up is what Charles calls Vitamin A Analogues’ and by this he’s describing the topical types of creams we might know as Retinol or Trentinoin. We covered a little of this in the previous ‘Which antiaging creams work’ piece but it’s small surprise that we hear the same message again and again from those who don’t have a schmancy high-priced cream slash serpent oil to sell you. Again to turn back to Charles,

‘These are very, very helpful for maintaining the quality of the skin. They can help to minimize variations in skin mutation – which is often very aging – and also signs of wrinkles.’

  1. The next item for Charles was a small but fascinating substance known a Hylauronic acid. Essentially it’s a molecule found throughout all connective and neural tissue and our expert tells us,

Hyaluronic acid can be injected at different layers of skin to rise that plumpness and if used cautiously and with precision, it can be very effective. Instinctively, it sucks in water. It maintains the substance, if you like’

Undoubtedly the effects are not going to be permanent – it is after all a kind of filler as well – and fillers … well there are a lot of not so good results out there aren’t there? Charles himself goes on to caution,

‘…done well, it’s not recognizable as being used. Unfortunately it gets very bad press. A lot of practitioners in the UK and elsewhere haven’t been trained … they really have got no concept of proportions and forms and aesthetic.’

Also you might already be aware that the anti-aging product world is awash with creams, potions and pills that offer some variety of this putatively magic essence, but guys, regarding hylauronic acid even Web MD tells us,

‘there is no evidence to support the claim that taking it by mouth or applying it to the skin can prevent changes associated with aging’

Enough said!

  1. The next item takes us to the supermodels favourite neurotoxin. Yep you guessed it: Botulinum Toxin-A or as you might know it by it’s more user-friendly title – Botox. In 2013 there were in the region of 5,154,189 procedures using this single item and that’s just the ones that were notified. Once again in the hands of a suitably qualified professional this will clearly offer results. However … as Charles has already highlighted, this is yet another area which is still sadly largely unregulated on both sides of the Atlantic, and unless you check first then that person in a while coat looking all doctory over there holding that large needle may have no more qualification than a half days training at a local beauty school.

For highly qualified professionals like Charles this lack of regulation has become something of a nightmare though his waiting room does have a steady stream of woebegone souls who’ve washed up there after some cut price nip and tuck and a budget spot of plumping gone wrong. Just remember that old saying about ‘you gets what you pays for’ might have more than just an odour of truth about it after all. Then again, go ahead. It’s your face. You can always get another, right?

  1. And finally …

‘The other treatments that can be effective … some Radio Frequency Treatments are used to help to keep the collagen in and (slow) the shrinkage of collagen. Again, it has to be used very, very cautiously and it’s got to be a very skilled practitioner because it can cause problems (such as) irregularities or burns if used in an uncontrolled way.’

So where does that leave us? Well naturally enough the professional says ‘Talk to a professional’. Whether you do or not is clearly up to you – your money, your face and your body after all. But don’t forget that what our highly qualified (and highly ethical) resident expert also says is that this five above is all that you should be laying out that hard earned spondoolicks for if you like the notion of paying for something that actually works and is proven to do so. It would seem that anything else would likely require us to build a meaningful sentence to accompany it using the words ‘fool, money, parted, easily’.

2 Comments on “which nonsurgical cosmetic procedures actually work? a leading surgeon tells us the truth”

  1. Well it’s nice a Doctor, Surgeon of this fields are honest and come clean about alot of things that they inject in our system or go under the knife which to me doesn’t prove anything. We are who we are and quiet honestly i say it’s in your genes. My Father is 91yrs old and wouldn’t look a year older than 70 and I’m nearly 50 but no one has ever pick my age, and it’s what they say, it’s what you put in your mouth

    1. Thanks for your comments Lois and yes Charles is a very ethical guy.Glad to hear you and your Dad are doing so well.

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