What if you could stop fine lines and wrinkles before they even show? That’s exactly why many twenty-somethings are turning to cosmetic procedures today, but beauty insiders were doing it decades ago. Here’s how the prejuvenation trend hit it big.
I’ve worked in the beauty industry for most of my adult life, so when it comes to skin care and cosmetic procedures, if you’ve dreamt it, feared it, or loathed it, I’ve probably tried it. At the ripe old age of 24, I giddily succumbed to a big-name dermatologist as he injected Botox® into my forehead to erase furrows that didn’t exist. Mind you, this was shortly before we even rang in the 21st century — and well before the advent of Instagram, selfies and Facetime. At the time, many of my friends gasped in horror that I would allow for such a thing to be done to my face. I didn’t need any “work,” they told me. But fast forward 20 years, and it looks like I was an early adopter of one of the biggest current trends in beauty — prejuvenation.
The essence of this movement? Young patients using these treatments as a preventative measure. The goal is anti-aging: to stop that forehead wrinkle before it becomes a wrinkle or to avoid ever having crow’s feet at all (while smiling all you want). And the only way to do that is to start non-surgical cosmetic treatments before time begins to take its toll on your skin. The recent American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS) annual member survey showed a 24% increase in cosmetic surgery or injectables in patients under age 30 since 2013 which they say points to a larger trend.
“Selfies and social media put us all under the microscope. We look at ourselves on posted images much more frequently, closely, and critically than any generation before us,” explains facial plastic surgeon Oren Friedman, MD. “We become self conscious of our appearance because we see ourselves in close-up, and sometimes distorted, pictures so often.” At the same time, he says the same social media spreads the word about minimally invasive injectable procedures very rapidly, drawing people’s attention to these no-downtime, relatively painless interventions that can be transformative over the course of a 10-or 20-minute office visit.
Dr. Friedman explains that neuromodulators and botulinum toxin such as Botox®, Xeomin®, and Dysport® are the most common non-surgical procedures for younger women, since the injection of these products helps remove fine lines and wrinkles from the face that are associated with muscle activity, especially around the eyes and forehead.
His experience is echoed by another facial plastic surgeon, Jason Bloom, MD. “Neuromodulators actually weaken the muscles that create wrinkles, like the 11’s between the brows and crow’s feet,” he says. “If you wait until these lines are etched into the skin to start using Botox®, you’ll still have the line even if you don’t have the movement. At that stage, you’ll need to inject it with filler to fully erase it. But injecting small amounts in your twenties or thirties actually stops the movement so the line never gets etched in.” Stopping the movement doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll end up with “frozen face” — that state when your face remains the same regardless of what emotion you’re feeling. The goal is to retain just enough movement to look natural.
Once you’ve stopped the progression of creases, the next area to target is restoring the fat that makes our faces look youthful. “The loss of fat in the face proceeds in a standard way for all of us,” explains Dr. Bloom. “The first fat pads we lose, beginning in the early to mid 20s, are the ones around and under our eyes. That’s what’s happening when young women say they want to look less tired, without the dark circles.” This common request is addressed by injecting a hyaluronic acid filler into the tear troughs or under the eyes.
Another way to think of prejuvenation? That millennial super-buzzword: self-care. While we’re taking care of ourselves by taking an extra workout class, sipping on collagen smoothies, and practicing meditation, what we are essentially doing is trying to keep the aging process at bay (or, at least, stalling it). These quick treatments are an extension of staying in a youthful state. The extra bonus: You don’t need a filter to take your best selfie.