Coming Of Age: The Best Procedures To Consider In Your 30s
When should I start getting Botox®? Is it time to incorporate retinol into my skincare routine? What is a “mommy makeover”? How about a “daddy do-over”? Do I really need to, as the saying goes, sacrifice my ass for my face? Should I swap my hyaluronic acid fillers for something a bit more permanent?
When it comes to beauty and aesthetics, there is no such thing as one -size -fits-all. But there are some tried and true principles that will keep you looking and feeling your best. In this series, Coming of Age, The AEDITION answers your most pressing questions about the best treatments, procedures, and practices — from surgery and skincare to health and wellness and everything in between — to consider at any age.
Perhaps more than any other decade, the thirties are uniquely broken up into two parts: early and late. Aesthetically speaking, the “early” thirties are most similar to the twenties (check out our guide to the decade HERE) in that the signs of aging are minimal, but visible signs of aging become more apparent on the face as elastin and collagen production slows in the mid- to late-thirties. The result: A newfound loss of skin elasticity. Below the neck, pregnancy, weight changes, and other life events may make procedures like body contouring, breast surgery, and hair removal more pertinent.
While preventive measures like a good skincare routine, healthy diet, and minimally invasive treatments (i.e. microneedling, chemical peels, and botulinum toxin type A injections) continue to have value, the thirties may also be the time to consider corrective face and body procedures into your routine.
For the Face
Botulinum Toxin Type A Injections
Neurotoxin injections like Botox®, Dysport®, Jeuveau®, and Xeomin® (read our guide to the muscle-paralyzing quartet HERE) can be both preventative and corrective when it comes to the formation and appearance of wrinkles. “They will not only soften any pre-existing wrinkles that they may have but also to prevent ones that will develop over time,” says Gregory Buford, MD, a Denver-based plastic surgeon and founder of Beauty by Buford.
In aesthetic medicine, BoNT-A is used to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles caused by facial expressions (think: frowning, squinting, smiling, and the like) by injecting it into the muscles underlying the affected area. In turn, the lack of muscle contraction prevents the face from forming lines and wrinkles. Common treatment areas include the forehead, crow’s feet, and smile and frown lines, and results usually last three to four months.
If your concern is less about preventing wrinkles from forming and more about plumping up or filling in ones that have already taken shape, soft tissue fillers like Juvéderm®, Radiesse®, Restylane®, and Sculptra® can be injected into the skin to restore volume, smooth out fine lines and deep wrinkles, and enhance the face’s natural contours.
Made of hyaluronic acid, collagen, calcium hydroxylapatite, and poly-L-lactic acid (PLLA), to name a few, Dr. Buford says filler can be an easy way to mimic natural plumping and shaping in a way that complements the face instead of dominating it. Like BoNT-A injections, the results of filler are temporary and last anywhere from six months to two years.
For the Body
While plastic surgery cannot serve as a substitute for weight loss surgery, there are both surgical and non-surgical ways to lift, firm, and tone the body. Dr. Buford notes that he has seen an increase in men in their thirties seeking body contouring options for the “love handles, abdominal wall, and chest.” In the latter case, he says many of these patients have clinical gynecomastia (a.k.a. enlarged breasts) and a male breast reduction may be performed.
Another common procedure: liposuction. The tried-and-true fat removal process works by suctioning excess fat from specific areas of the body (think: abdomen, thighs, hips, buttocks, upper arms, chest, and chin). It should be noted that while the fat cells are permanently removed during liposuction, patients can still regain any weight lost during the procedure if they do not stick to a proper diet and exercise.
Abdominoplasties (read: tummy tucks) are also common for patients in their thirties — either alone or as part of a larger “mommy makeover” (see below). A tummy tuck can enhance contouring, reduce fat, and provide a lifted effect. For women who have been pregnant, a tummy tuck can serve as a means to bring the rectus abdominis muscles back together, if they became stretched or separated. Like liposuction, a tummy tuck also requires patients to maintain a healthy lifestyle post-procedure.
CoolSculpting destroys fat cells by freezing targeted fat deposits on the body (think: stomach, hips, thighs, chin, etc.) with an applicator applied to the skin. EmSculpt, meanwhile, improves abdominal muscle tone and strength by employing high-intensity, focused electromagnetic technology to induce 20,000 supramaximal muscle contractions over the course of a 30-minute treatment. Essentially, as you’re lying still, your body is experiencing the effects of 20,000 crunches. In both cases, the best results require multiple sessions.
While men and women alike may choose to undergo a breast procedure in their thirties, women who have children may be particularly interested in a breast lift, augmentation, or reduction after giving birth and breastfeeding (or may wish to revise a previous procedure) because pregnancy can cause large fluctuations in breast volume.
“While we know that pregnancy is definitely going to affect some changes in a woman's body, but to what extent is highly variable,” Dr. Buford says. “Many of our patients comment that the results of their breast enhancement are actually better after having kids, while others see changes from pregnancy to their breast augmentation that require small revisions once the baby weight has come off.”
At the end of the day, Dr. Buford says choosing a procedure type and timeline is a personal decision that varies from patient to patient. Breast augmentation, for example, enhances size and shape and can restore fullness. A breast lift, meanwhile, will lift the sagging skin and treat drooping, which can often be a result of weight gain, pregnancy, and/or breastfeeding. Alternatively, a breast reduction can reduce the size of the breasts, while nipple surgery, which is less common, can adjust the size of the areola and correct inversion.
While hair removal can be pursued at any age, years of shaving and waxing may lead men and women to consider a more permanent solution in their thirties. Hair removal is a relatively permanent procedure — in other words, once you complete the required sessions, you will never have to shave, pluck, or wax that area ever again — and there are two main types: electrolysis and laser hair removal.
While electrolysis is the only treatment classified by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a permanent hair removal solution, patients who opt for laser hair removal often experience similarly long-lasting results. Laser treatments work by pulsating highly concentrated light deep into the skin, generating heat that kills the hair follicle and prevents further growth. Treatments are scheduled around the hair growth cycle (read: every four to six weeks), with each session targeting new follicles until most (if not all) of the hair has been destroyed. Six sessions are typically required and minimal maintenance may be needed for the first few years.
Electrolysis, meanwhile, disrupts growth by targeting the hair follicle with shortwave radio frequencies through an epilator (i.e. a very fine needle). The device is placed into the natural opening of the hair follicle and emits a small electrical current to destroy the follicle and prevent new growth. It requires patience though. Depending on the area being treated, patients may need up to 30 sessions for full results.
For women who do not plan to have more children, the late thirties can be the ideal time to undergo cosmetic surgery that had been previously postponed. One of the latest buzzwords in medical aesthetics in the so-called “mommy makeover,” which can encompass any number of procedures. While it depends on the judgement of the plastic surgeon and the patient’s needs, mommy makeovers often include some combination of a breast surgery (lift, augmentation, or reduction), tummy tuck, liposuction, and circumferential abdominoplasty (a.k.a. body lift).
A mommy makeover is usually performed all at once and on an out-patient basis, meaning you can recover in the comfort of your own home. Because of the number and invasiveness of the procedures, recovery can take several weeks or months. During that time heavy lifting (including babies!) is forbidden, so women considering a mommy makeover — or any type of surgery — need to ensure they have sufficient help during the recovery process.
Since this is an all-inclusive option, a mommy makeover is not for everyone, but it can be the perfect solution for those looking for total rejuvenation after childbirth. Dr. Buford recommends women wait at least two to three months after they are done breastfeeding to ensure their bodies have recovered and they have had time to lose the weight gained during pregnancy.
While preventative care (think: daily sunscreen, a healthy diet, plenty of exercise, and a good skincare routine) should continue to play a big role in people’s aesthetic journeys throughout their thirties, the mid to latter part of the decade is an ideal time to consider everything from minimally invasive to invasive face and body procedures. BoNT-A injections and dermal fillers, for instance, can help keep fine lines and wrinkles at bay, while larger procedures like liposuction, breast surgery, and “mommy makeovers” address the body.