Happy 2020! I think. For most of us, the new year is a time we start to contemplate changes, consider new choices and ask new questions. For many women who are working to age gracefully, the question might be, “Is this the year?” “Should I see a plastic surgeon? If this is something you or someone you know is contemplating, I’ve asked Dr. Christie Prendergast, a Los Angeles-based double-board certified plastic surgeon, a few questions to help shed light on some cosmetic surgery basics. Dr. Christie as she is known, believes strongly that educating the patient is the highest priority and ultimately helps render the best results. To that end, she developed what she calls The Beauty Matrix, a comprehensive strategy to help women age beautifully.
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What is The Beauty Matrix?
DC: The Beauty Matrix is made up of the three categories we must target in the aging process: 1) skin quality, 2) skin laxity, and 3) volume. To have harmonious results, all three of these categories must be addressed; for example, if you just treat volume, you will end up with “filler face syndrome” and no one wants that. Conversely, if you just treat laxity with surgical resection, you get what we used to see a lot, that “wind-blown” facelift look where facial volume was not being considered. Within the current pop-culture beauty world there are now more “influencers” than ever for single treatments that are marketed as the quick answer for aging. In fact, it takes a strategy and the culmination of many little treatments to age gracefully.
What is the easiest beauty fix most people could use?
DC: Good skin quality! I think many people these days are focused on the sexier beauty treatments that have immediate gratification (like fillers and botox) but I cannot over emphasize the importance of setting the foundation of good skin quality for natural aging. It is easy to fill your face to restore natural volume or augment bony structure, but changing or maintaining the quality of your skin is a much more challenging journey, and that is the highest long-term return on your investment.
We all see ads for “mini facelifts,” that claim to be so easy. Is that true? Are they real or is it really just a facelift?
DC: I do not think any surgical treatment or procedure should be taken lightly especially when it comes to altering your face. There are many ways surgeons are creatively taking surgical procedures and performing hybrid versions that result in less down time and a faster recovery. For example, there is great technology currently available such as FaceTite or Renuvion that do result in impressive skin tightening. These treatments can give amazing results with less downtime however, patient selection is very important and not everyone is a good candidate. Every surgical procedure has risks and long term consequences, and even though the recovery and commitment may be less in the short-term, you still want to think about how that may affect future treatments downstream and understand the complications that can happen even in “mini” procedures.
It seems that necks are the big problem area, are there treatments for that?
DC: Yes! There are options to rejuvenate the lower face and neck, which I like to treat as one unit, that don’t always include surgery. We want to think of the lower face and neck as a single unit because they share anatomic structures. The jawline is one of the first areas patients start noticing changes on their face in the aging process, they will often come in complaining of jowls and laxity of their lower face. Previously, we would have to wait until everything was sagging enough to justify the scar burden needed to remove the skin laxity. Today we have amazing technology available that can result in significant tightening of the skin envelope without the scar burden. I have seen more patients coming in earlier to address laxity, which I think is one of the secrets to aging naturally and gracefully. Once again, you want to make sure you are choosing the correct treatment. In some patients who do not have a lot of excess skin but rather poor bony structure, fillers can be a great way to augment a jawline to make it appear more contoured. However, if a patient has significant skin laxity that is the cause for a weak jawline, that patient would be best served by having a skin tightening procedure such as FaceTite, Reunvion, or, if the laxity is significant, surgery. This is why we go back to the Beauty Matrix to recognize the categories of aging to decide if laxity is the problem or if it’s volume.
Have you noticed your clients getting younger and younger and is there reason for concern?
DC: There is definitely a trend now of younger patients seeking cosmetic procedures due to a combination of things, mostly, it’s the influence of social media and the ease with which we can augment faces. Instead of just reversing aging, we are now in an era where new technology and products have created less invasive ways for us to make big changes over time and that has driven many younger patients to seek cosmetic treatments.
I have often counseled young girls on the timing of cosmetic interventions in their life and how that may have an affect on their long-term aging process. We now have many quick, easy tools to help patients change things they don’t like about themselves, but that can be dangerous if there is not a good foundation in place to guide those treatments
Why did you choose to specialize in plastic surgery?
DC: I chose to specialize in plastic surgery because I absolutely love everything about the speciality! It requires more than just surgical technique for a good result and I love the creativity you must have with each patient. It began with my love of art. Sculpting and molding, hand-crafting and carving – these are actions made by both artists and surgeons. On any given day you can do a cosmetic case, a facial trauma case, and then collaborate with a breast surge on to reconstruct a breast cancer patient, all requiring your artistic intellect. My desire to pursue a career in plastics was affirmed when I participated in medical mission trips. Reconstructing children and giving them a chance for a better future was a life-altering experience.
Please explain why you created the Beauty Matrix philosophy and treatment.
DC: I developed the Beauty Matrix to help guide the patient’s approach to medical beauty treatments. If you don’t understand the components of aging, then it is hard to choose the treatments that help reverse it. We are living in an era under the heavy influence of pop culture and fake beauty, and I have met many patients who are scared to start addressing aging because they don’t want to end up looking different. I have found that as I have started to educate women on this approach to beauty it demystifies the treatments, empowers patients to make educated beauty decisions, and most importantly, helps patients understand the strategy so that they are happier with the results.
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