I am not an fan of fillers. I think they are probably great for women who are 47 and want to look 42, but when you are older than that---considerably older, I might add-- they seem to cause as many problems as they solve. I haven’t had too many needles stuck in my face but I have had Botox a few times. Frankly, I think it is sort of like ironing. The creases just go somewhere else. Yes, the wrinkles on my forehead disappeared but then why did my top eyelids look a lot lower?
Last October, feeling particularly decrepit, I went and had myself blasted with Botox, Radiesse and Juvederm. Big mistake. Yes, my cheeks were higher and firmer. So much so that my husband kept telling me he liked my cute chipmunk cheeks. The lines under my eyes. which certainly are there but tend to fade in the general downward drift of my facial contours, suddenly were a lot more apparent. The super in the building asked me why I looked so tired. Even though the dermatologist swore it wasn’t so, I think the Juvederm left a strange blue shadow under one eye. And let’s not even discuss the bruising that caused me to buy all sorts of top-of-the-line concealers. The only good thing was that the ultra-expensive fillers, which were supposed to last for months and months, seemed to disappear amazingly quickly.
So why, you may ask, when someone suggested I try a wrinkle reducing treatment called Pellevé, I didn’t say thanks but no thanks. Well, I was assured that it was non-invasive with no needles, little discomfort, and no downtime. And, besides, those under-eye wrinkles were beginning to bother me again.You can understand.
Pellevé is an FDA-approved radio frequency device which its makers claim causes the collagen in the skin to contract and new collagen to be produced. The result is supposed to an improvement in skin quality, firmness and tightness. Sometimes, they say, you see an immediate improvement. Sometimes it takes some weeks. You usually need a couple of treatments. A friend who has tried everything, but everything, was skeptical. She suggested turning the oven to 400 degrees, opening the door and standing there for a few minutes.She said one would get the same results.
Still, game girl, I decided to give it a try. I had my treatment in the elegant Park Avenue offices of Dr. Z. Paul Lorenc. His very cheerful colleague, Carissa McCormack, led me into a small room, took off my makeup, put cream on my face and put what seemed to be a small rubber pad on my back which, she explained, attracts the radio waves to go deeper into my skin.
For a moment, it reminded me of the shock treatment that the brilliant bipolar heroine of “Homeland” experienced in the last episode of that series. But, no fear, when Carissa turned on the Pellevé, machine and started moving a wand around my face, the sensation most of the time was a pleasant warmth. Once in a while it did get hot, and Carissa moved it away from my neck, an area of concentration, or under my eyes. The whole treatment took around an hour and was rather like a warm facial massage. It did leave my face feeling very smooth but quite pink. I could cover that up with just one coat of powder.
So did it work? I am not sure. The next day my neck did seem a bit tighter, my under eyes a bit smoother. Carissa suggested another treatment in a month and one more several months later. I think I just might give it a try. Unlike my experience with fillers, I have no regrets and it did no harm. And maybe, just maybe, new firmer collagen is being produced as I write.
Myrna Blyth is editor-in-chief of ThirdAge.