Uncut beauty

Thanks to modern technology, enhancing or preserving your natural beauty is easier than ever, but with an onslaught of new procedures introduced to the market each year, choosing the right option can be a tricky road to navigate. We tested six relatively new, noninvasive procedures to treat those pesky problem areas we’d all love a little help with. Whether you’re hoping for a whiter smile, thicker hair, smoother skin or a tighter tummy, we’ve got the solutions to your biggest beauty dilemmas.

All in the eyes

With its widespread availability and relatively low cost, it’s no surprise that Botox often serves as the first stop for individuals hoping to fight the signs of aging. At the age of 35, I’ve had a few rounds of Botox with varying levels of success (that is, I will not be purchasing Botox on Groupon again). With my heavy-lidded eyes, I was curious to see what other treatments might be available to combat what time, gravity and, ultimately, genetics have done to my face. I made an appointment with Dr. Brian Biesman, director of the Nashville Centre for Laser and Facial Surgery. Dr. Biesman specializes in cosmetic and reconstructive eyelid surgery and minimally invasive rejuvenation techniques such as injectables and laser procedures. Renowned in the medical community for his expertise in facial rejuvenation, ophthalmic and reconstructive surgery, he’s known locally for his meticulous yet restrained approach to facial rejuvenation. In other words, if you don’t need it, he’s not going to do it.

“I have no problem telling people ‘no’ if their expectations are not in line with what I can do or what the procedure can do,” Dr. Biesman says.

When you make an appointment for a consultation, Dr. Biesman asks that you bring photos of yourself from your high school graduation and each subsequent decade. This gives him a fuller perspective of how your face has changed throughout the years because the goal of facial rejuvenation is not to alter your appearance, but to preserve it. Dr. Biesman strives to make patients look good for where they are in their lives, rather than to make them look 25 again.

“I want people to be comfortable in their skin; I don’t want people to think that their lives are going to be revolutionized,” Dr. Biesman says. “The whole goal of cosmetic rejuvenation, in my mind, is not to correct an eyelid or a brow, but to make a subtle change, so the overall impression is one of being youthful and more awake or energetic.”

Youthful, awake and energetic are all adjectives I’d like to be associated with. While I knew I wasn’t ready for something involving a knife, I was curious about my options outside of just Botox.

After looking at my photos and discussing treatment options, Dr. Biesman recommended a combination of Botox above the brows and Voluma, an injectable filler that contains hyaluronic acid, directly beneath my eyebrows (a nearly painless procedure; a numbing cream is used before the Voluma is injected).

While it takes several days to notice the results from Botox injections, the effects from Voluma are instantaneous. I looked in the mirror and was stunned. Fortunately, I didn’t look stunned—just better, and more awake and refreshed.

That evening, I met a friend for post-work drinks, when she scrutinized my face and—unable to pinpoint what was different—said, “Your skin looks great!” Rather than demurely accept the compliment or let her wonder what miraculous treatment had enhanced my appearance, I told her exactly what I did. Throughout the week, as the Botox took effect, the area between my eyes smoothened yet never approached the artificial look that I’d experienced with previous Botox injections. (I’m happy to report that I can still emote.)

If you’re curious about facial rejuvenation and want to know if you’re a good candidate for a noninvasive procedure, a consultation is the best place to start and will give you an idea of what treatment options will be most effective.

“In their 30s, the average person starts with Botox, fillers and a good skincare routine,” Dr. Biesman explains. “By doing tweaks regularly, when you see them 10 years later, they’ll look better than when you started. And that’s the fun part.”

As for me, you can bet that I will be following up with Dr. Biesman for continued “preservation.” Because, self-preservation is the first law of nature, right? AW

Mane attraction

While there’s something to be said about the idea of growing old gracefully, there is one part of the aging process that’s hard to stomach: thinning hair. After years of color and heat processing, I was starting to wonder how much damage I’ve caused to my fine, wavy blonde locks. While attempting to grow it longer after years of short hair, I noticed that I didn’t have as much hair as I did 10 years ago. My ponytail looked pitiful, and it seemed like more hair was in my hairbrush than usual. I had blurry memories of a grandmother with patchy bald spots and worried that the same fate might be in my future.

Hair thinning or shedding can be blamed on several factors, including stress, pregnancy, menopause, hormonal or genetic conditions, or damage from over-processing and heat styling. According to Anne Texada, salon manager at Elan, there are several treatment options to help men and women grow thicker, fuller hair, ranging from temporary fixes like extensions to NeoGraft Hair Transplants, which harvests hair from the back of the head to the problem area (usually the top or the front).

Vickie Hoffman, a stylist at Elan Hair, says that she’s seen more women seeking help for their thinning hair, especially women in their 40s, and she uses and recommends the Zenagen line.

The line is the brainchild of 29-year-old Jared Reynolds, a scientist who created the color safe, sulfate-, alcohol- and paraben-free formula after experiencing his own hair loss during medical school. The nutraceutical product uses only natural compounds and extracts, which means that it doesn’t produce any systemic side effects and is safe for anyone to use at any time, even during pregnancy or chemotherapy.

In 2012, Zenagen launched these two professional hair care lines: Zenagen Revolve, which combats men’s and women’s hair loss, and Zenagen Evolve, which helps with accelerated hair growth and heat repair. Zenagen’s Evolve System is great for younger women, especially those who are seeing breakage due to heat styling, color treatments or extensions, while Zenagen’s Revolve System is designed for men and women experiencing thinning and shedding hair related to Androgenic Alopecia. According to Stefan Baskin, vice president of sales at Zenagen—which is headquartered in Brentwood; both Baskin and Reynolds hail from Franklin—the formula holds seven patents and naturally blocks the androgen hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT), the enzyme responsible for 95 percent of hair loss in men and women. It is currently the only all-natural treatment that can block the 5-Alpha Reductase enzyme, which produces DHT. The products must be used every other day, or three to four times a week, and the shampoo treatment needs to remain on the scalp for at least five minutes to be effective. The accompanying conditioner treatment only needs to stay on the scalp for one to two minutes.

Vickie says that most users see results after going through two bottles of Zenagen—roughly four to five months—and the product only needs to be applied to the scalp, so those with longer hair can use a separate shampoo on the rest of the hair, if necessary.

Vickie recommended that I try the Revolve treatment for women. I was a little nervous to forgo my usual hair products, especially in the midst of the humidity-laden Nashville summer, but was relieved when I didn’t experience any more frizz than usual. I’ve only been using Zenagen for a few weeks, so it’s a little early to see results, but Stefan advises that users often see a reduction of shedding within two to six weeks, so I’m keeping an eye on my hairbrush. I like how the products integrate into my hair care routine (I still use the same styling treatments), and they’re extremely easy to use. Stefan says that within a year I should see big results, so I’m in it for the long haul. Bonus? That extra five minutes in the shower means that my shower tiles are squeaky clean because I need something to do while the product works its magic.

Revolve can only help an individual if the hair follicle is not dead; those who have been completely bald for many years are not likely candidates as hair is incapable of regrowth in a dead follicle. If you’re not experiencing actual hair loss but have problems with dry, brittle or heat damaged hair, the Evolve line accelerates hair growth up to 40 percent and is great for girls looking to grow their locks long and lush.

In order to determine if you’re a good candidate for either of the Zenagen products, you should consult with a professional hair stylist. Zenagen is available locally at Elan, Cosmetic Market, Green Pea Salon and Private Edition. A full list of partner salons and businesses is available at zenagen.com. AW

Skin so smooth

With all the changes that come with age, perhaps the hardest to face (quite literally) is skin damage. Scarring, sun spots, wrinkles and blemishes become harder to hide as the years go by. Fortunately, advances in skin resurfacing technology have seen staggering growth in recent years with cutting-edge treatments leading to better results with less downtime, music to the ears of the dermatologically-challenged among us. My own skin deficiencies led me to Dr. Michael H. Gold at Gold Skin Care Center, a world-renowned dermatologist and dermatologic surgeon. With more than 40 lights and lasers at Gold’s Laser and Rejuvenation Center, I knew there would be an option to treat my acne scarring and fine lines. Fractional laser resurfacing, a method of skin rejuvenation that promotes new collagen growth by firing lasers through the top layer of skin and targeting tissue at a deeper level, seemed like my best choice. Fractional lasers come in three types: non-ablative, ablative and sublative. All three are designed to treat scarring and fine lines and wrinkles through slightly different methods.

Non-ablative treatments are ideal for individuals with minimal fine lines and wrinkles, scarring or pigment concerns, while ablative treatments work wonders on deep wrinkles and severe scarring but come with a much more significant recovery time.

Sublative laser rejuvenation, a relatively new type of skin resurfacing, combines the best of both worlds, offering radio frequency treatment for moderate to severe scarring and wrinkles with minimal recovery time. Dr. Gold was a pioneer in the development and testing of the eMatrix device to determine the best use for the machine. While it was initially created to reduce fine lines, Dr. Gold says, “I started treating severe acne scars and getting amazing results.” As a result of the successful clinical trials, Dr. Gold helped secure FDA approval for the treatment of acne scarring. Additionally, eMatrix tightens the skin, minimizes pore size and smoothens the entire surface. Dr. Gold recommends three to six treatments (depending on severity of skin damage) administered once a month.

For my first treatment, I was admittedly a little nervous and unsure of what to expect, but the staff calmed my nerves from the second I arrived. After thoroughly cleansing my face and having photos taken at every angle—I hope those never see the light of day!—I had a consultation with Dr. Gold and my nurse, Lindsey Baker, to talk through the procedure.

The treatment itself lasts about 20 to 30 minutes, during which the nurse uses a small wand to deliver high doses of bipolar fractionated radio frequency across the entire face. The device emits heat as it works, causing a slight pricking or burning sensation. Patients have the option of applying numbing cream before the treatment to ease any discomfort. I opted to skip the numbing cream on my first visit, and while it was certainly tolerable, it was uncomfortable. In lieu of the cream, cold air was blown on my face while Lindsey administered the treatment. (For my second treatment, I decided to try the numbing cream but didn’t notice a significant difference in pain levels.) Lindsey, sweet and so encouraging throughout the procedure, worked at the pace I was most comfortable with, allowing me a few breaks throughout as needed.

Following the appointment, the skin was very red, akin to a bad sunburn, but the ladies at the Advanced Aesthetics Medical Spa took care of that in no time with an application of Oxygenetix. Ladies, this makeup is like magic! Not only is it specially designed to provide full coverage of surgical scars, it’s light, breathable, long-lasting and it actually helps the skin to heal! My face burned for about an hour following the procedure, but by the time I washed it before bed, there was barely any redness left. For the next few days, the skin felt rough to the touch—similar to sandpaper—and there was light scabbing in a tiny grid pattern. Once again, Oxygenetix came to the rescue! Even when my friends and coworkers peered closely at my face, they couldn’t tell that anything was different—such a relief considering I still had to be at the office, attend meetings, cover parties and be around people in general.

“Treatments work over time,” Dr. Gold says, “with everyone reacting differently.” It can take up to four to six months to see full results, but I started noticing minor improvements to the texture of my skin almost immediately. Not only that, but areas of hyperpigmentation were noticeably diminished, evening out my skin tone, and the fine lines that begin to take up residence around the eyes and mouth in your early 30s were considerably lessened. Just over six weeks into the treatment, I’m already considering it a success, with things looking better—and smoother—every single day. NF

Sweet escape

They say that beauty is pain, but at Escape Day Spa, beauty is bliss. Offering a wide array of facials, peels, soaks, scrubs and massages (in addition to a full menu of salon services), Escape can get you looking and feeling your best from head to perfectly polished toe. The Organic Escape Package is ideal for anyone looking for a full-body reboot. A day’s worth of holistic, all-natural pampering leaves clients feeling refreshed, rejuvenated and recharged. It’s the perfect way to rebalance between seasons, de-stress after a particularly hectic time at work or, in my case, get ready for a big event like the Swan Ball.

The morning begins with an exfoliating East African detox espresso scrub and mud treatment. The scrub—a carefully curated blend of Indian sarsaparilla, tobacco, volcanic pumice, silt clay, Shea butter and honey—polishes away dry patches, draws out impurities, soothes irritated skin, relieves joint pain, hydrates the entire body and even provides digestive and respiratory benefits. Once the scrub was massaged into the skin by my aesthetician Lily, I was wrapped in a mylar thermal blanket under the warm, steady stream of four Vichy showerheads. Adding to the sense of serenity is a warm wild lime scalp treatment and massage. Any cares you brought into the spa with you will disappear in this calming cocoon. Following a full-body rinse, Sicilian bergamot is lavishly applied to moisturize and hydrate.

The relaxation continues with an organic results facial, carefully tailored to meet your skin’s needs and sensitivities. For mine, Lily used certified organic products from Naturopathica to thoroughly cleanse the skin, extract and heal blemishes, and hydrate the face. Throughout every step of the process, as each new cleanser/toner/peel worked its magic, my hands and feet were massaged, drawing me further into a state of relaxation. After the facial (my first ever!), I was stunned by how clear and glowing my skin looked.

Before the next service, I took a break for a private lunch catered by 360 Bistro (conveniently located next door to Escape), a lovely addition to Escape’s spa packages. I was presented a menu to choose from upon arrival to the salon, and the steak tacos with fresh avocado, black bean salad and fiery mango salsa definitely did not disappoint! Additionally, an assortment of beauty and fashion magazines was laid out for me to peruse as I dined. What more could a girl ask for?

Next, I was off to the organic deep forest herbal soak in the stunning hydrotherapy soak room—the spa’s most recent addition, with renovations being completed in February of this year. The giant round tub is filled with water at exactly 104 degrees—the optimal temperature for bath water—and mixed with a blend of aromatherapy oils proven to clear sinuses, lift spirits and detox the body. The always-conscientious team at Escape added chamomile essential oil into my soak to soothe any skin that may have been irritated by the mud scrub and provided cucumber slices for my eyes and a bowl of ice in case I got too warm.

For the organic peace massage, the incredibly skilled Gretchen blended a variety of modalities for ultimate relaxation and stress relief, utilizing organic massage oil from local company BabyBearShop. Once again, the treatment was perfectly tailored to my specific needs, targeting areas of pain and tightness in my neck and shoulders.

Lastly, it was time for the organic relief peppermint manicure and pedicure with Anastasia. Including an all-natural scrub from Vines Apothecary (founded by a former Escape aesthetician), the mani-pedi incorporates essential oils and vitamins to ease soreness, increase circulation and soften skin. Topped off with a fresh coat of O.P.I’s The Thrill of Brazil, my hands and feet looked better than they have in a long, long time.

One of the best parts of an experience at Escape is the amount of downtime you’re given between each treatment, creating ample opportunity to utilize their fabulous facilities, which include a complimentary steam room and several relaxation rooms throughout the space. In the largest relaxation room, chaise lounges with blankets, dim lighting, flowing water features and a wall-size projection of tranquil scenes (ranging from snowfall in winter to lapping waves at the beach in summer) provide a cozy place to meditate or rest between services. There’s also an assortment of delicious refreshments like complimentary tea, cookies and cucumber, orange or lemon water. A day spent at Escape Day Spa truly is an escape for the body and mind, and one that I never wanted to leave. NF

Brighten that smile

As the song says, “You’re never fully dressed without a smile.” But, if that smile is tainted by years of consuming coffee, tea and red wine, you might be feeling shy about showing your less-than-pearly-whites. Fortunately, a bevy of teeth whitening options exist, but with strips, bleaches, lasers and lights, determining the best option for you can be overwhelming and confusing. I paid a visit to Dr. David Roach, D.D.S., at David Roach Family Dentistry in Green Hills to discuss my options. Given my history with teeth sensitivity, I was nervous about undergoing a treatment that would be painful or further exacerbate the sensitivity. I also didn’t want to walk out of the office with teeth so bright they could rival the lights on Broadway.

During my initial consultation, Dr. Roach and registered dental assistant Kristen listened to all of my concerns and examined my teeth to make the best recommendation for my situation. After determining that I was, in fact, a good candidate for teeth whitening—all that coffee paid off, I suppose—Dr. Roach recommended KöR Whitening, a series of at-home and in-office treatments that can brighten the teeth up to 16 shades. And KöR’s whitening gel is specially designed and tested to produce little to no sensitivity—a welcome relief for me! To further protect against any sensitivity, Dr. Roach sent me home with MI Paste to use on my teeth nightly for the two weeks leading up to whitening to replenish minerals to tooth surfaces.

To get my personalized KöR-Seal trays made, Kristen took molds of my teeth—a relatively simple procedure that feels a bit like sticking your teeth in a tray of Play-Doh for two minutes at a time. The molds were sent off, and two weeks later, I had a set of perfectly fitted whitening trays. Made of thin and flexible plastic, these small trays are surprisingly comfortable to wear. Equipped with my new trays and two syringes of whitening gel, I was sent home to begin my regimen.

The best part of KöR Whitening is how easy and convenient it is. You simply fill the trays with whitening gel and wear them while you sleep. There’s no mess, no pain, no incredibly long dental visits and, more importantly, no lights or lasers. After two weeks of undergoing at-home treatments, it was back to Dr. Roach’s office for a “boost” using a hydrogen peroxide-based whitening gel. The process was the same—whitening gel in the trays for two back-to-back treatments lasting 20 minutes each—but the result was a more significant boost of whitening.

Following the in-office visit, Dr. Roach recommends periodic home maintenance (roughly one application per month) to ensure permanent results of the whitening. Permanently white teeth? Now that’s something to smile about. NF

Fat cells, no more

Perhaps you’ve seen the billboard around town that claims, “This machine kills fat cells on your lunch break.” After giggling over the clever Woody Guthrie reference, I remained skeptical at such a claim, resorting to the age-old truism of, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. But I have this stubborn spot on my abdomen that won’t budge no matter how much hot yoga I do or how many times I get the stomach flu, so my curiosity was ignited. This is how I ended up in the office of Garza Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, run by Dr. Robert Garza, to discuss Invasix, a noninvasive body shaping and contouring treatment that uses radio frequency energy. The practice, which has been in Belle Meade since 2009, recently expanded to offer services in downtown Nashville, and Dr. Garza is currently the only plastic surgeon in the state to offer Invasix.

Invasix’s body contouring can improve the appearance of cellulite and reduce loss of elasticity and/or dimpled skin on areas such as the abdomen, hips, thighs and charmingly named problem areas like “muffin top” or “love handles.” Additionally, the machine—which kind of looks like a cute little robot—can eliminate stubborn fat by melting and removing unwanted fatty deposits while tightening the skin. The treatment promises no downtime and little discomfort, which obviously means no cutting, slicing or dicing.

Dr. Garza explained that Invasix offers multiple treatments; the radio frequency and the heat can decrease the volume of the fat cells (perfect for those muffin tops and love handles), tighten (great for chins/necks) and resurface the skin (similar to a heavy duty chemical peel or laser resurfacing). He says that what makes Invasix different from other treatments is that the heat is regulated, so it’s less likely to hurt the patient. While a facial resurfacing treatment requires only one visit, patients looking to either reduce fat volume or tighten skin can expect to do six to eight sessions, spaced out at once a week. The sessions require 20 to 30 minutes per area. Once these initial treatment sessions are complete, Dr. Garza recommends doing one maintenance treatment each year.

“This bridges the gap between surgery,” Dr. Garza says, explaining that while nothing can replace liposuction, Invasix is a great solution for patients looking for a massive improvement without resorting to a surgical procedure.

After talking with Dr. Garza about treatment options, we did a consultation in which he and nurse practitioner Maegan Griffin viewed the area and determined that I—or, rather, my stubborn abdomen—was a good candidate for Invasix’s BodyFX treatment.

I was a little nervous for the first session. I remained fully clothed, reclining on a table, and Maegan got the cute little robot ready for business. Administered through a handheld, iron-like device—sort of like a mini defibrillator—the treatment was at worst uncomfortable. It felt like turning a heating pad up high, with a minor intermittent jolt. On a scale of 1 to 10, my pain level never exceeded a 3, even when Maegan increased the temperature. After 20 minutes, I was back in my regular street clothes, my skin barely reddened.

Five weeks into the treatment, my abdomen definitely looks more toned than it was before. I’m excited to do an “after” photo at the close of my sessions, after which I will discard the “before” photo, because I’m hoping that I’ll never have to look at that tummy roll again.

Those interested in learning more about Invasix should schedule a consultation, as very loose skin cannot be treated by this noninvasive procedure. And if you are a candidate, you too can kill those fat cells on your lunch break. AW

By Nancy Floyd and Abby White