7 Under-the-Radar Procedures You've Probably Never Heard Of
According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), Americans spent more than $13.5 billion in surgical and nonsurgical procedures last year. This total reflects a $1.5 billion increase from the year prior and shows that more and more people are opting to take care of the aesthetic concerns that bother them. As techniques and procedures evolve, even more options are available to nip, tuck, melt and freeze away those problem areas. We reached out to some top doctors in the know to find out what “under-the-radar” procedures are gaining popularity during this era of aesthetic improvement.
Just like it sounds, an eyelash transplant involves taking a hair follicle from one part the body (generally the back of the scalp) and moving it permanently to an eyelash. “Once placed in it's new location, the follicle will continue to grow as it would have in its original location,” says New York hair restoration specialist Carlos K. Wesley, MD. A good candidate for this procedure is someone who has lost their natural lashes due to trauma like burns, pulling them out or damage from overuse of eyelash extensions. “To ensure the most precise placement of each eyelash, the follicles are surgically sewn into place. Like a needle and thread, the long-haired follicles from the donor area are threaded into a small needle and passed through the eyelid. Generally 20–40 eyelashes are used for each eye, depending on the degree of density required,” says Dr. Wesley.
The results of an eyelash transplant are permanent, as your hair will continue to grow as it would have in its original location. Dr. Wesley recommends frequent maintenance after the procedure. “Trimming and curling of the eyelashes ensures a healthy, natural look once they've grown in fully a few months after the procedure.”
Gummy Smile Repair
Showing a lot of gums can be a major focal point and distract from the full potential of your smile. A gum lift can reshape your gum line and remove some of the extra gum tissue, revealing a more proportional smile. “The idea behind a gum lift or gum contouring is to take away some of the gum to achieve an overall look that is closer to what is considered an ideal smile,” says Woodlands, TX, cosmetic dentist Guy M. Lewis, DDS.
“Depending on how much is being removed, we usually accomplish this by using a dental laser to carefully trim and reshape the gum,” says Dr. Lewis. “In more extreme cases, because the tooth is encased in bone that's covered by gum tissue, some bone may also need to be removed. This can also be accomplished with a laser or surgically. It's really not as bad as it sounds! Especially if a laser is used, it gently slips under the gum to remove the bone in the right places.”
Bunionplasty or Cinderella Surgery
It’s a high heel world, and years of wearing four-inch heels can take a toll on your feet. “Bunionplasty is essentially plastic surgery for bunions, the painful and unsightly boney protrusions on the inside of the big toe,” says New York podiatrist Neal Blitz, DPM. If you desperately want to fit comfortably in your Louboutins, a bunionplasty procedure (sometimes referred to as Cinderella Surgery) can help alleviate some of the foot pain associated with wearing high heels.
“As opposed to traditional bunion surgery that results in a very visible unsightly scar directly on the top of the foot, a bunionplasty involves properly realigning the toe bones using a plating system, which I developed, that keeps these bones steady during healing, allowing patients to walk immediately after surgery in a small shoe,” says Dr. Blitz.
CoolSculpting for Bra Bulge
The battle of the bra bulge is real, and while there are surgical solutions to fight the excess fat that overflows around your bra line, there are also noninvasive treatments that can improve the area without going under the knife. “People that have ‘pinchable fat’ in the upper back area are the best candidates for this procedure,” recommends New York plastic surgeon Darren Smith, MD. “Bra-line fat is a great place to do CoolSculpting. The fat-freezing technology is excellent at improving the shape of the body by removing fat from unwanted areas. If we can pinch your fat between our fingers, that means the applicator will be able to grasp it and cool it appropriately.”
So how does it get rid of the fat that hangs around your bra line? “CoolSculpting works by placing an applicator on the area to be treated. The applicator then sucks and cools the targeted area. The fat cells then die in response to the cold, and over the next few months, your body naturally clears the dead cells,” says Dr. Smith. Results are visible at about one month and final results at approximately three months. Typically results show a 20 to 25 percent reduction in fat in the treatment area.
While six-pack surgery creates the appearance of a washboard stomach using implants, abdominal etching creates the same look, but without the use of implants. “Abdominal etching is a term I came up with for creating a six-pack using liposuction,” says Ellicott City, MD, plastic surgeon Daniel Markmann, MD. “I had been creating the vertical crease on women's abdomens during tummy tucks and eventually decided that if I could create that crease, I could create the horizontal creases that make you look like you have a six-pack. This is a very aggressive liposuction procedure, doing exactly what we are trained not to do during our plastic surgery training in liposuction, that is, liposuction right under the skin, creating cannula marks and a linear indentation.”
A good candidate for the procedure is someone who is rather fit but cannot achieve the look of six-pack abs on their own with diet and exercise. “Many people work out very hard but still can't develop the definition that they want,” says Dr. Markmann. “Liposculpting and abdominal etching can often give them the definition they are seeking.”
Despite all of the memes that joke about never skipping leg day, anyone who's tried to spot train muscles in one part of their body knows it's frustrating to have some muscles that refuse to develop as well as others. A calf augmentation can help you gain definition in your lower legs when you can’t improve the look of the area through exercise alone. “A calf augmentation is a procedure that enhances the projection and volume of the calf, mostly the inner calf," says New York plastic surgeon Z. Paul Lorenc, MD. “We use solid, silicone ‘gummy bear’ implants, similar to the ones used for the breast, but these are made for the calves. Once I place the implant underneath the fascia (or connective tissue) of the muscle, if you run your fingers on top of the skin you can’t feel the implant at all.”
During the procedure a small incision is made in the back of the knee, making a scar very hard to spot. Results are permanent and patients can resume working out in a little over a week. “I have a wide spectrum of patients requesting this procedure,” says Dr. Lorenc. “It’s not just men, but also women who have trouble working out their calves or patients who have a history of polio or other diseases that cause atrophy of the calf muscles. It’s not just for body builders; it's a really a good procedure for anyone who is self-conscious about the size of their calves.”
Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy for Hair
Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy for hair uses platelets that contain growth factors that can make hair increase in diameter, decrease hair loss and help regrow hair that has been dormant for three to five years. “The treatment involves drawing blood and spinning it in a centrifuge, just as you would with any other type of PRP therapy, to separate the platelets from the white and red cells,” says Englewood Cliffs, NJ, dermatologist Jeffrey Rapaport, MD. During the procedure the area is numbed and the PRP is injected into the scalp with a small needle. “I inject into areas that need regrowth or areas where one wants thickening of the hair.”
According to Dr. Rapaport, the best candidates for PRP therapy for hair are those with an inherited type of hair loss or those who want an increased thickness and are not losing hair. “This is not a permanent solution as we are treating a genetic disease, but results typically last anywhere from three to six months,” says Dr. Rapaport. "The procedure is gaining tremendous popularity because there is no other natural treatment that has the same effectiveness. In terms of its growing popularity, I like to think of it as the new Botox."