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Published: Sunday, 12/26/2004

Facing it: Baby boomers want to hide the march of time

Ever thought of putting a new face on things for the New Year? Think beyond new clothing, redecorating the living room, or a fresh coat of paint on the house. How about putting a new face on you?

Thousands of men and women already have tried facial rejuvenation. Many are members of the post-World War II Baby Boom generation. Born from the late 1940s through the early 1960s, they are getting old and don t like it.

Faces are time s scorecard. They re the paper where the advancing years write a story in wrinkles, age spots, hollows in the cheeks, sunken eyes, that frail and transparent hue to the skin.

By all accounts, the facial rejuvenation business is booming for plastic surgeons and dermatologists. They re the two main medical specialists who perform about a half dozen main kinds of facial rejuvenation procedures.

Facial rejuvenation has been a big factor in the 293 percent increase in the total number of cosmetic plastic surgery procedures since 1997. More than 8 million people in the United States had surgical or non surgical cosmetic procedures in 2004.

The procedures range from shots of botulinum toxin (Botox), which paralyze muscles that cause wrinkles to full-scale face lifts.

Botox is the least of the least in facial rejuvenation s toolkit. It is the least invasive, costs the least, involves the least down-time in terms of recovery, and the effects are the least lasting. Many people who try facial rejuvenation start with Botox for those reasons. In many cases, nothing more is needed to temporarily hide small wrinkles that are among the first signs of aging.

Face lifts, in contrast, involve surgery, higher costs, and a longer recovery period.

Between the two are ranges of other procedures. Facial implants, for instance, fill in deep creases and hollows with elastic materials that resemble human tissue. Photorejuvenation and radiofrequency procedures use lasers and rays similar to radio waves to remove age spots and make skin look fresher and younger in other ways.

There are all kinds of combination treatments. Botox injections, for instance, can give facial fillers a helping hand in reducing the visibility of deep wrinkles.

You ll pay from $300 (on average) for a Botox treatment to thousands for a face lift. Effects may last 3-6 months for Botox to perhaps years for face lifts. Results do fade, and age wins the battle at least temporarily because many people who try facial rejuvenation have repeat procedures.

Millions more would probably try facial rejuvenation if prices were more affordable and the results lasted longer.

Prevention, of course, is better.

Damage from ultraviolet rays in sunlight causes premature aging of the skin. People can keep their faces younger by simply avoiding too much sunlight.

Best of all, however, may be not a new look, but a new outlook: The graceful acceptance that aging is not a disease that can be treated with thousands of dollars worth of injections and surgery.



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