Mt. Airy plastic surgeon Dr. Guy Cappuccino discusses a procedure with his assistant, Shelly Atchison.

Written By Donna Engle

Spring is for youth. But if your inner youth is hidden behind wrinkles, frown lines and droopy eyelids, an army of cosmetic surgeons, aestheticians, cosmetologists and dermatologists stands ready to help. They have weapons Cleopatra would envy – injections to erase lines, April-May fillers for lips and mouth areas, face and eyebrow lifts, sun protective creams and lotions, pulsed light treatments, moisturizers, and hair extensions to add volume.

The desire to rewind our personal clocks prompted Americans to spend $10.5 billion on cosmetic procedures in 2009, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS). We also spent $58.9 billion on beauty and personal care in 2009, reports global market research firm Euromonitor.

“When people look at themselves in the mirror, the reflection doesn’t mirror the way they feel. People are living longer, they’re more active, they don’t feel as old as they look,” said Dr. Guy Cappuccino, a Mount Airy plastic surgeon. Some of his patients are newly divorced or separated and want to look their best when they get into the dating scene. Others are looking for a job market edge.

Looking younger is not just a woman thing. Women still make up the majority of those seeking medical help to erase wrinkles or fight aging with a facelift, but the number of men is increasing. American men had more than 900,000 cosmetic procedures in 2009, 9 percent of the total.

Men are also invading day spas and salons for facials to counter the effects of winter-dried skin or cupping massages to reduce muscle tension and stimulate blood flow.

“With some male clients, it’s for the work force. They don’t want to be left behind. If they look younger, they’re going to keep that position,” said Lisa Nightingale, owner of Westminster’s Bladerunner Hair, Nail & Skin.

Women tend to consult plastic surgeons earlier in life than men. Dr. Cappuccino said male patients tend to be in their 50s and 60s. He has seen female patients as young as 20.

Carroll cosmetic surgeons say most of their patients do not want an extreme makeover.

“Most people want a natural rejuvenation. They don’t want to be somebody else. They want to be themselves the way they looked 20 or 30 years ago,” said Dr. Fady Sinno, a Westminster plastic surgeon. Most patients have a specific feature they want to improve, whether it is hollow cheeks or neck folds, he said.

“People want to look a little better. They don’t want anyone to know they’ve had something done. They just want their friends saying, ÔYou look well,’” said Westminster plastic surgeon Dr. Marilyn Miller.

Injections are popular for convenience and affordability. There is little or no down time with such procedures. Most health insurance plans do not cover cosmetic procedures, and a Botox injection at an average $500 is less costly than a brow lift, which averages $3,000. But the injections do not last as long. Botox wears off in about four months, injectable fillers last about one year. A deep plane facelift, in a plane below the superficial face muscles, lasts five to 10 years.

Dr. Sinno has seen residual benefits from Botox. “When we use it consistently for a year or two, the lines are not as deep, the muscles are relaxed better, so even when you stop using it, you still look more attractive,” he said.

For nonsurgical treatment of forehead lines and wrinkles, Botox is the gold standard. Doctors use a variety of injectable fillers for deep creases around the mouth, laugh lines and thin lips.

“As we age, our fatty tissue lessens, so areas that have lost volume are good candidates for fillers,” said Maryam Jirsarai, physician assistant at Westminster’s Carroll Dermatology Associates.

Carroll Dermatology uses chemical peels, creams and bleaches to restore sun damaged skin. “You have to do it on a regular basis to notice a difference,” said Jirsarai.

The Women’s Place, Westminster, offers intense pulsed light treatments to improve skin pigmentation and eliminate brown “liver” spots, sun spots and spider veins on the face. Lasers are used to remove unwanted body hair. For female patients, that usually means legs and bikini areas; for males, it is backs, said Women’s Place manager Eileen Overfelt, R.N., B.S.N.

One common surgical clock rewinder is blepharoplasty, eyelid surgery. “That’s where we show our age most often,” said Dr. Cappuccino. Plastic surgeons remove excess skin from eyelids to take away the droopy look.

Other surgical procedures can reduce neck folds or raise eyebrows. Liposuction can contour areas under the chin, upper arms and armpits, waists, hips and thighs.

Beyond the doctor’s office, men and women can find professional hair coloring, skin care and makeup advice to minimize the passing years. For some, hair extensions play a vital role.

“Hair is important to women, very important,” said Pam High, owner of Sykesville’s On Mane Street. She uses human hair to restore youthful bulk to hair thinned by nature or menopause. It can be colored, curled or flat-ironed.

Visible scalp atop the head calls for a hairpiece. “You can go out in a boat and your hair will stay on,” she promised.

Hair extensions prices vary by quality, type, length and procedure. Hot fusion bonded extensions, for example, may cost $300 to $500. Cold fusion bonded extensions average $1,500 to $3,000.

Preserving youthful looks, “is more than hair, it’s how you take care of yourself,”said High. Her mother made her start wearing eye cream at age 12. She did not want to, but today she is grateful for the way the skin around her eyes looks.

Massage cupping can help reduce wrinkles and break up fat, said Kathy Volrath, owner of Therapeutic Kneads, Eldersburg. Cupping is an ancient technique of using suction and body cups to pull up the skin. It increases blood flow, helps get rid of toxins, helps break up fatty deposits and can plump up wrinkles, Volrath said.