Skip the Scalpel

Skip the Scalpel

- in Health & Wellness, January/February 2018

If you want to kick off the new year with a new look, there are plenty of ways to iron out wrinkles and suck out fat —  all without having to go under the knife.

Age, genetics and sun exposure play a role in how we look, says Cleveland Clinic’s Dr. Shilpi Khetarpal, a cosmetic dermatologist. Non-surgical options generally are divided into three categories: injectables, lasers and other procedures such as chemical peels.

While most non-surgical cosmetic procedures are fairly simple, she recommends using a physician for injections or laser treatments.

“I tell people there’s not on person out there who doesn’t want to look their best. They want to age gracefully,” Dr. Khetarpal says. Skin generally starts showing signs of aging when we’re in our 30s, and some procedures such as Botox injections can be done as soon as smile or brow lines begin to show.

When or if to begin treatment is a matter of personal preference. “Today I treated someone who is 25 and someone who is 91,” Dr. Khetarpal says.


Here’s what’s popular in Northeast Ohio:

Chemical Peels

Sure, you’re beautiful just the way you are. But even the finest artwork could use some polishing. Chemical peels are good for acne scarring, pigmentation issues, removing redness (for folks with rosacea), shrinking pores and anti-aging.

Local medical esthetician Andrea Fenda of Apex Dermatology says chemical peels tend to get an undeserved bad rap. “People think of chemical peels and they think bloody and oozy. But there are many different types and strengths. You would come in for a consult, and they see what’s best for you.”

Are they painful?

“You feel a tingly sensation, so you hold a fan to feel comfortable. You may be pink or red when you leave, but you can resume normal activity,” she says. “You can come in every two weeks, but most people do (it) monthly. The more you do it, the more it works.”


If you’re impressed by the benefits of chemical peels and want something a little more intense, consider micro-needling. This is a good choice for scarring, anti-aging and reducing stretch marks.

Micro-needling uses a device that looks like a pen, but it’s a tool filled with tiny needles that create micro-perforations in the skin. The penetration of these needles signals your body to produce more collagen. It can be done anywhere on the body for scarring, but not for new scars.



Dermaplaning is a two-step exfoliation process that helps with sun damage, fine lines, wrinkles, acne scarring and removing vellus hair (a fancy word for peach fuzz).

This painless treatment removes dead skin from the top layer of skin. This process helps clean pores and soften lines. Fenda says dermaplaning is relaxing and can be done on a lunch break.

“Lots of people get it done before events or weddings for an instant glow,” she says.

As with micro-needling and chemical peels, the more treatments you get, the better the results.

Botox and Fillers

Fenda says it’s easy to confuse these two, but they are very different. Botox is used to prevent muscle movement and to eliminate some expression lines (scowling between brows, forehead lines and crow’s feet). She says that properly done, clients still have some facial movement so they don’t look “scary Mary,” as she puts it. Results last three to four months.

Fillers are made with hyaluronic acid that naturally occurs in our body and keeps skin cells plump and hydrated.

“As we age, we lose it and we lose collagen. Fillers replenish what we naturally lost,” Fenda says.

Fillers restore volume in the cheeks and lips, where movement is important. Botox attacks expression lines and fillers plump up or volumize loss of collagen. (P.S.: Never get Botox in your cheeks or lips.)


How do you remove fat without diet, exercise and surgery? The answer is perhaps the most popular of all these trends.

CoolSculpting is non-surgical, permanent reduction in fat. It can be done almost anywhere — inner and outer thigh, upper and lower abdomen, love handles, back fat, double-chins and on men who have breast tissue.

A device suctions the treated area with a temperature just above freezing. Fat cells freeze, but skin, muscles and organs are not affected. The result is a 25 percent permanent reduction in fat, Fenda says.

The fat does not grow back because the body does not recognize it because it’s frozen, so it eliminates it completely.

“We are all born with a certain number of fat cells, so when we gain weight, we don’t gain fat cells. We just balloon them up like a water balloon,” Fenda says.

Christine, 50, of Concord has done CoolSculpting on her lower back and stomach and loved it. “I even recommended it to my best friend who did her upper thigh. She had a different problem area than I did.”

Did it hurt? “It feels strange with the suction and the cooling. When it first starts freezing, it’s not painful — it’s just not comfy. But once it starts freezing, you’re numb and you don’t feel anything.”  She noticed her full results in four months, which is typical.



You know about sucking fat out, but what about injecting it where it’s needed?

University Hospitals Center for Facial Aesthetics offers fat injections, which are nonsurgical and provide long-lasting results.

The injections can improve facial creases, laugh lines, smile lines, crow’s feet, thin lips, indentations in the skin, acne scars, hollow cheeks, jawline contour, sunken temples and hollowing under the eyes.

Fat is taken from somewhere on your body (typically stomach or thighs) and is injected in areas that need smoothing and rejuvenation. Expect some bruising and swelling after the injections, and patients should take a 10-day break from lifting or straining while healing.

Many of us want to age naturally. Others want to take matters into their own hands. Fenda says that with these non-surgical procedures, the outcome isn’t a drastic change in appearance.

“You are still going to look like yourself, just the best version of you,” she says.


Call out:

Price Points

Cost varies depending on who’s doing the procedure and how much they’re doing. Here’s generally where prices start:


  • Dermaplaning: $130
  • Microneedling: $425
  • Microdermabrasion: $125
  • Chemical peels: $75
  • Coolsculpting: $700, with package discounts available from some providers.



People 65 and older are increasingly active and remaining in the workforce longer than past generations. And statistics show they don’t want to look older than necessary, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. In the past 20 years, the number of cosmetic procedures performed among those 65 and over has increased by a whopping 1,263 percent.

This jump suggests folks want the way they look on the outside to reflect how young they feel on the inside. About 1.4 million people 65 and older undergo non-surgical cosmetic procedures annually, according to ASAPS.


Breanna Mona enjoys before-and-after makeovers, both on TV and in magazines.

About the author

Breanna Mona is a Northeast Ohio freelance writer specializing in entertainment features and theater reviews.

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