The New, The Strange, The Goofy Anti-Aging Skin Procedures

Okay, I know when you read this that you’re going to think I made up a few of these anti-aging skin procedures just to amuse you.  I assure you I haven’t.  I had heard of one of these odd anti-aging skin procedures a few years back from a fellow dermatologist on her return from a conference in Japan.  Now that same procedure is featured at an expensive spa in New York as well as several other prominent spas around the country.  So here I thought I’d tell you about what’s new and bona fide in anti-aging skin procedures as well as a couple that I’ll let you be the judge on. Enjoy…

What Price Youthful Beauty:  How Far Out Would You Go?

As a dermatologist, I’m always researching new procedures that offer my patients what they want – ageless skin.  There are a lot of good procedures out there right now that help deliver that desire. They include microdermabrasion, laser therapy, infrared light treatments, radiofrequency, Botox and other injectable fillers, microcurrent stimulation and even some at-home facial exercisers on the market.

Then there are procedures and devices like the following that you may have heard of and are wondering about.  Let’s start with the strangest first…

1.  Bird poop facials.  Yes, I know that sounds ridiculous, but I’m absolutely not joking. This bizarre sounding procedure originated in Japan where they’ve been used since the 1600s by geisha girls as well as actors.  Called “Uguisu No Fun” (really) in Japan, the facials are very popular in Japan and older Japanese women swear it’s what makes their complexions so beautifully ageless.  Here in the United States, the fad caught on in Manhattan, New York. They’ve been featured at a Japanese spa there for about 5 years where it’s offered as the “Geisha Facial”.  Apparently, they have a loyal following of about 100 men and women per month who regularly come in to get professionally “—–faced”.

The avian facials are also offered at other exclusive, and expensive, spas across the country and go for about $130 to $180.  At a spa in New Mexico, it’s offered as The Nightingale Facial and for good reason.  Their facials are made out of nightingale bird feces – specifically the Japanese bush warbler. The feces are collected and sanitized with a UV light (good to know as bird droppings can be teeming with deadly bacteria).  They are then dried into a powder, finely ground and mixed with rice bran.  The powder is then made into a paste with water and applied to the face for about 5 minutes. Then it is washed off and followed by a green tea mask.

Apparently, nightingale feces is said to contain a natural enzyme that exfoliates the skin, whitens the skin and balances skin tone.  It also contains good amounts of urea that is often used in commercial cosmetics to retain moisture in the skin.  Rice bran has also has been used by Japanese women for many years to exfoliate their skin and even skin tone.

I’ve not seen the results of the BP facials, but if exfoliation is the only real facial magic they do, I think you could do a comparable, much cheaper job (without fear of lingering avian bacteria), with plain old sugar or ground apricot pits and castile soap.  Try the BP facial if you dare and you have a couple hundred to blow.  PS: I don’t offer the BP facial in my office.

2.  Halloween Lips.  Named the Face Slimmer Exercise Mouthpiece, this is actually an “orbicularis oris” (muscles around the mouth) exerciser that is offered as an alternative to Botox or other injectable filler for those aging vertical lines on the upper lip.  It aims to tighten the muscles around the mouth, plump them up, and thereby remove, or reduce, the lines.  They sell for about $80 and look oddly like those plastic Halloween lips we used to wear as kids.  They fit over your lips and you bite into the inner tab, and then perform a series of flexing exercises.

I don’t know how well this “lipcizer” works as I haven’t tried one myself, but reading reviews of it, it seemed to cause a tight jaw in the reviewer.  In all fairness, the Lips seem to be modeled on the facial exercise concept first developed with the Facial Flex exerciser by a physical therapist some years ago.  Yet, the Facial Flex, if done faithfully, actually does work to firm jaw and facial muscles, lifts the cheeks, and it costs much less these days.  There is also another similar facial exerciser on the market, as well, called a Flex-Away that has similar effects but claims to work all the facial muscles.

Even though the above are real procedures and devices, the following is a new, bona fide treatment that is being performed in dermatologist offices by estheticians.

3.  Skin Pen.  The Skin Pen was developed by Bellus Medical and is used to treat acne scarring, hyper pigmentation, age spots, fine wrinkles, sun damage, even stretch marks.  It takes about 1 hour to do and its results are pretty quick – much faster than even most in-office microdermabrasion procedures.

With the skin pen, your facial skin is numbed first and several surgical stainless steel needles contained in the tip of the pen are pressed into your skin. This action is performed around your entire face. These create numerous microscopic incisions which stimulate collagen production to heal them.  At the same time, the skin becomes thicker like more youthful skin.  In about 3 days, you will see a noticeable, more youthful improvement in your skin.  Skin pen treatments can also be used on other skin areas as well – the neck, the arms, hands, abdomen, thighs, etc.

The treatments are a little more expensive but the downtime and fast results can be well worth the cost of about $300 to $400.  And, if you’re just trying to reclaim a more youthful look you may only need 1 treatment here and there to maintain it.  But if you’re looking for removal of acne, or other type, scarring, a few treatments may be necessary which can be done 1 month apart.

So, there you have 3 interesting anti-aging procedures – 1 that I know does what it promises and the other 2 – well I’ll leave that up to you.  There are a lot of products, devices and procedures out there, some pretty far out, as well as expensive, that promise to restore a youthful and attractive look.   Some may work to varying degrees, however, a few of these devices and procedures may even cause damage and infection to your skin.

I encourage you to do your research on these procedures and devices and not be taken in by the hype, or fad, or even testimonials written on websites about them. Use your common sense and consult a dermatologist with questions of various procedures that are available.

Stay Well,
Jay Brachfeld, M.D.

Bird Poop Facials, http://www.surgery.org/consumers/plastic-surgery-news-briefs/bird-poop-facials-skincare-fad-1051852

Uguisu No Fun, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uguisu_no_fun

Skin Pen, http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2014/03/skinpen-hailed-as-newest-breakthrough-in-anti-aging-treatment/

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