Alternatives to Botox

Is the quest for the fountain of youth necessary in order to maintain your singing career and preserve that competitive edge? Is it worth it to subject yourself to injections or chemical solutions brushed onto your face? If you answer yes, Botox or an alternative just might be for you.
 
If Botox is not for you, there are other nonsurgical options available such as Dysport, Juvederm, Restylane, chemical peels, or laser resurfacing. Similar to Botox, Dysport is another form of onabotulinumtoxin A used to minimize the creation of wrinkles, but made by a different manufacturer. “No real difference has been noticed between Botox or Dysport,” says Dr. Scott Siegel, a New York-based oral and maxillofacial surgeon, “but some studies show that Dysport may be slightly more effective.”
Juvéderm and Restylane often go hand in hand with Botox, as they are used for different parts of the face. “Juvéderm and Restylane are categorized as fillers,” says Las Vegas plastic surgeon, Dr. George Alexander. “They are used to fill in deep wrinkles and creases that have already developed in the facial area.”
 
“Juvéderm and Restylane are used to restore volume in the lips, nasolabial folds (area between nose and lips), and other folds and creases not amenable to Botox treatment,” says Siegel. Juvéderm and Restylane, similar products by different companies, are both injected with a fine needle and results can last up to a year. Both cost about the same, between $400–$700 per syringe.
 
The differences? “Both brands are hyaluronic acid, yet Juvéderm is more difficult for the body to break down,” says Siegel, “making it last somewhat longer than Restylane. In my experience, Juvéderm handles better than Restylane in that it has a smoother consistency and can be molded and shaped better in the skin.” Obviously, the same safety precautions exist as with Botox—receive injections only from a qualified medical professional and be educated regarding possible side effects.
 
If subjecting yourself to frequent injections with a needle does not appeal to you, then what about chemical peels or laser facial treatments? “Although Botox is unique in its ability to prevent aging changes in the forehead,” Alexander admits, “there are additional options available.”
 
“Chemical peels and laser facials remove the surface layers of the skin and help to promote new collagen formation, which reduces or eliminates the presence of fine lines and wrinkles,” explains Siegel. “Addressing the resurfacing of the skin to eliminate fine lines and wrinkles is a very effective alternative to Botox or can be used adjunctly with Botox.”
 
What is the difference between Botox and these other options? “The degree of invasiveness, the length of time for treatments, and the possible number of treatments necessary,” Siegel says. Cost and effectiveness will also vary.
 
Although I have not used Botox or any other injected filler, I have tried chemical peels. Soon after moving to Las Vegas in 2009, I began to notice how the harsh desert environment was drying out my skin. That, coupled with approaching my early 40s, I noticed that my face was looking slightly wrinkled, tired, and haggard. When a Groupon for monthly facials at the Facelogic Spa was offered, I decided to try it.
 
After a few months, my skin appeared more hydrated and “fresh.” Although it did not eliminate wrinkles or make a drastic difference, I did like the subtle changes. I looked less tired, and my face no longer had red spots, dry patches, or uneven skin tones. Chemical peels were never painful, although I occasionally experienced mild discomfort and I did have to sign a consent form. My skin was usually a bit red and inflamed afterwards—but as long as I scheduled my appointments strategically, I was fine by the following day. I also had to wait at least 24 hours before working out, because overheating and excessive sweating would aggravate the skin or cause hyperpigmentation, and chemical peels were not a good idea during the summer months as exposure to sun would trigger the same reaction.
 
There is a vast difference, however, between my $70 a month facial versus a doctor-administered chemical peel. My Facelogic peel treatment uses natural acids and is a chemical form of exfoliation. A dermatologist- or plastic surgeon-dispensed chemical peel, also called chemexfoliation or derma peeling, is an outpatient procedure that can cost upwards of $800.
 
Yet another option is laser resurfacing, a treatment that reduces facial wrinkles and skin irregularities, such as blemishes or acne scars. This particular treatment directs short, concentrated pulsating beams of light at irregular skin. Also called lasabrasion, laser peel, or laser vaporization, it precisely removes skin layer by layer. The national average cost for laser skin resurfacing is $2,300, but will vary according to your geographic location and who performs the procedure.
 
And that’s not all. There are a plethora of other nonsurgical options, such as microdermabrasion, hydrafacials, fraxel laser treatment, and LED light facials. Additional volumizing, contouring, and fine line fillers like Radiesse, Sculptra, Perlane, and Belotero are also popular alternatives. A quick perusal through the latest edition of Vogue, Elle, or Harper’s BAZAAR will give you a dizzying array of new products, gadgets, or crèmes to sample if you are searching for a method to restore youthfulness without subjecting yourself to surgery.
 

The full article “The Fountain of Youth – Alternative Treatments”, appeared in the February 2014 issue of Classical Singer magazine.

Dr. Michelle Latour

Dr. Michelle Latour is a Las Vegas-based voice teacher, repertoire consultant, and writer. She is the creator of The LATOUR voice studios, LLC, and maintains a busy studio, teaching both classical and musical theatre genres. She has been on the full-time voice faculties of the University of Nevada-Las Vegas and Bluffton University. Latour earned a DMA from the University of Southern California and an MM from Boston University, both in Voice performance. To find out more and get in touch, visit www.drmichellelatour.com.