The New “Slow” Plastic Surgery: The Latest in Minimally Invasive Beauty Treatments

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In Hollywood, innovative, minimally invasive procedures, along with a “less is more” approach to facial fillers, are offering a more natural-looking alternative to cut-and-sew procedures, say dermatologists to the stars.

“People aren’t looking for the quick-fix look; they are looking for slow, progressive maintenance,” says Dr. Harold Lancer of Beverly Hills’ Lancer Dermatology (whose clientele for his overall practice has included Margot Robbie, Jennifer Lopez, Beyoncé and Kim Kardashian West).

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Dr. Harold Lancer with a patient. - Credit: Lancer Dermatology
Dr. Harold Lancer with a patient. - Credit: Lancer Dermatology

Lancer Dermatology

“It’s like slowly baking the souffle as opposed to just putting it in the microwave. A couple years ago, the over-toxed, over-plumped, Madonna cheek look was in. None of that is popular now. What is popular are subtle, under-the-radar almost imperceptible, mini-mini-mini procedures.”

Beverly Hills Plastic Surgery‘s Dr. Gabriel Chiu (who’s married to Bling Empire star and producer Christine Chiu) adds, “Decreased use of hyaluronic acid fillers has been the trend, as Hollywood types are looking for a more natural-looking rejuvenation and trying to avoid filler fatigue.”

PlasmaSculpt

Lancer says that “the new thing in volumizing is PlasmaSculpt [from $3,000 a treatment], where you’re mixing volumizing agents with your own blood plasma.”

He explains that he injects the custom cocktails into faces, necks, arms, butts and thighs to “improve skin texture, pore size and radiance as well as reducing some fine lines and dents. We can subtly firm the arms non-surgically, so the days of arm lifts are rapidly going away because scarring is a problem.” The technique, he explains, involves “fanning a bit of this mixture to undercoat the skin.”

Stem Cell Face Lift

Another buzzy word-of-mouth treatment is a new patented Stem Cell Face Lift that dermatologist Simon Ourian has been quietly performing on clients at his Epione Spa in Beverly Hills for the past two years, he exclusively tells THR.

Dermatologist Simon Ourian, whose clients include Lady Gaga, Megan Fox and Camila Cabelo - Credit: Courtesy of Subject
Dermatologist Simon Ourian, whose clients include Lady Gaga, Megan Fox and Camila Cabelo - Credit: Courtesy of Subject

Courtesy of Subject

The treatment harvests less than two ounces of fatty tissue from the patient’s hip, knee or abdomen and reinjects the stem cells into the face, neck and chest to restore suppleness and add volume.

Starting at $10,000, the procedure is customized for each client, often combined with a Coolaser treatment (for discoloration and fine lines) or ultrasound (to shrink extra fat under the neck or eyes). It takes two or three months to see results as the body regenerates.

“It has very similar results to a face-lift, but without the downtime,” says Ourian, adding that clients in their 30s can go 10 years between treatments. “The stem cells force your skin to think something brand new has to be made, and your body builds new structures. Bone and muscle become denser, skin quality becomes better. There’s a huge window of opportunity to make the face look as youthful as it used to be.”

Thread Lifts

Available since the 1990s, thread lifts are now in high demand, having made a comeback with a fourth generation of much more efficient, soluble, barbed sutures that are sewn in under the skin in order to raise fat pads and restore a youthful look. Threads made of polydioxanone (PDO) are absorbed by the body in a few months, but results last for up to two years. In late 2020, Eva Mendes shared a photo on Instagram with pink needles in her neck while getting a thread lift at Beauty Villa Vergara, the Beverly Hills clinic-spa-salon opened by Dr. Mariana Vergara, cousin of Sofia Vergara. “The beauty of PDO threads is you can start doing them at an early age to stimulate collagen production,” says Vergara.

Dr. Mariana Vergara with a patient. - Credit: Courtesy of Subject
Dr. Mariana Vergara with a patient. - Credit: Courtesy of Subject

Courtesy of Subject

Dr. Mariano Busso, who tends to actresses in Miami and Beverly Hills, has specialized in thread lifts on the face and body for nearly 20 years and helped to develop PDO threads. For improved lift, his body threads have 70 hooks, while others average about 50 per thread. The Bussolyft technique (from $1,000 per area treated) uses threads to lift cheeks, jowls, necks, even abs, knees and underarms. He notes that men tend to age more in the neck, but, since it’s hard to hide scars, the technique has become a welcome option to surgery.

“We try to stay away from fillers, what we call the F word, as we don’t want to change people too much into what they are not,” Busso says of the process. “Threads reposition fat pads on the face to their original location. It’s a concept that’s enticing to most people because we are also using your own fat to create volume.” Lancer performs two to three thread lifts per day and even uses them to create a “perk lift” to the breasts or to the tail of the eyebrows.

Radio-Frequency Energy Devices

As technology evolves, radio-frequency energy devices — which stimulate collagen production by warming tissues at a deep level — continue to be a go-to for stars. Morpheus 8 and Forma machines tighten skin, while Emsculpt Neo and Evolve by InMode stimulate muscle contractions to tone bodies. (Prices range from $600 for Forma to $1,300 for Morpheus 8.)

An EmSculpt machine at Le Jolie Medi Spa. - Credit: Le Jolie Medi Spa
An EmSculpt machine at Le Jolie Medi Spa. - Credit: Le Jolie Medi Spa

Le Jolie Medi Spa

Euphoria castmates Sydney Sweeney, Maude Apatow and Lukas Gage recently received radio-frequency treatments at Le Jolie Medi Spa in West Hollywood, and Britney Spears posted a video on Instagram including Chiu that showed herself receiving Forma on her arms and Emsculpt on her abs. Chiu refers to the “Forma facelift,” citing its “powerful ability to tighten and lift skin” and also uses it to target the neck, “under-butt,” knees, backs of hands, stomach and décolletage.

Chiu says the Morpheus8 device has a new body attachment that “allows deeper treatments to reduce fat and cellulite, treat stretch marks and thickened scars, while tightening and rejuvenating the skin.” He also combines the treatment with platelet-rich plasma extracted from a patient’s blood. “Some have likened the improvements to a mini-facelift, but it will actually treat and improve certain types of laxity and signs of aging that a facelift cannot, especially around the mouth and nasolabial folds,” says Chiu.

InMode’s Evolve radio-frequency energy device — which stimulates muscle contractions — secured to a patient’s abdomen. - Credit: Courtesy of Brand
InMode’s Evolve radio-frequency energy device — which stimulates muscle contractions — secured to a patient’s abdomen. - Credit: Courtesy of Brand

Courtesy of Brand

Vergara explains that Emsculpt has replaced CoolSculpting in her practice. “People are so afraid of doing CoolSculpting because of the rare side effect called paradoxical adipose,” says Vergara, pointing to Linda Evangelista’s $50 million lawsuit against Zeltiq Aesthetics in 2021 claiming that the procedure left her “permanently deformed.” (The company has filed to dismiss the suit, arguing that the model was warned of the risks.)

Dr. Ava Shamban of Ava MD in Santa Monica and Beverly Hills offers a combination treatment that combines radio frequency with micro-needling to improve skin texture and LED light to boost healing. “We ramp this up even more with the application of stem cells and growth factors for best absorption while the micro-channels are open,” says Shamban, who also layers on a Sofwave ultrasound device to tighten skin on the lower face and jawline as well as hard-to-treat areas like the back of arms.

“Emsculpt is like getting a three-hour workout in less than 15 minutes, and results can last for months or years,” says Ourian. “InMode is my favorite muscle stimulation product because it’s more aggressive. If you’re fairly lean, abdominal and buttocks muscles come up in two or three sessions, and it’s the equivalent of doing maybe three months in the gym. Everyone is eager to get out and show off their bodies as if they’ve been working out.”

Below, shop the starry dermatologists’ skincare designed to lift and tighten the skin and improve texture.

If you purchase an independently reviewed product or service through a link on our website, The Hollywood Reporter may receive an affiliate commission.

The Box by Dr. Ava

The Box by Dr. Ava
The Box by Dr. Ava

The Box by Dr. Ava $250 per quarter or $850 annually

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Lancer Younger Pure Youth Serum

Lancer Younger Pure Youth Serum
Lancer Younger Pure Youth Serum

Lancer Younger Pure Youth Serum $275

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Lancer Instant Contour Firming Treatment

. - Credit: Courtesy of Lancer Skincare
. - Credit: Courtesy of Lancer Skincare

Courtesy of Lancer Skincare

Lancer Instant Contour Firming Treatment $150

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Lancer Legacy Youth Treatment

Lancer Legacy Youth Treatment
Lancer Legacy Youth Treatment

Lancer Legacy Youth Treatment $1,000

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Epione Signature Series Pore Serum

Epione Signature Series Pore Serum
Epione Signature Series Pore Serum

Epione Signature Series Pore Serum (reg. $290) $145

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A version of this story first appeared in the Jan. 19 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.

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