Noontime nip and tuck

Look years younger in under an hour.

Words  Ani Dela Serna


It’s a historical fact that women used to suffer for beauty, some to the point of putting their lives at risk. During the Italian Renaissance, they would put drops of an extract made from the toxic berries of belladonna or deadly nightshade in their eyes. The result was dilated pupils that simulated the look of sexual arousal and which women thought made them more attractive to men. Sustained use often resulted in permanent blindness.

The Victorians consumed or applied poisonous arsenic to their faces. These wafers made with a mixture of white arsenic, vinegar and chalk gave them that much admired deathly pallor. A common cause of death at the time was organ failure as the arsenic eventually poisoned the user’s bloodstream.

Fortunately, we’ve moved far away from those barbaric beauty regimens. Even the thought of going for a full facelift is considered antiquated. Instead, women prefer “refreshening,” dropping out for a few days and emerging looking rested and rejuvenated. The common response to “You look amazing!” was “I just came from a vacation”—code for “I had a bit of a nip and tuck.”

Nowadays, anti-aging treatments are even faster with practically no downtime at all. In fact, dermatologists and beauty writers have been calling these swift and nifty services “lunchtime procedures” because women can zip in and out of the doctor’s clinic in under an hour. The latest treatments, however, come with steep price tags. Regular clients have no qualms forking over their platinum credit cards. It’s a small price to pay to look years younger than their actual age.


Dermatologist Jean Marquez has been treating patients at her clinic in Timog, Quezon City for quite a while now. Her work is split between teens and adults battling with acne and requests from patients to stall the march of time. She invests in the latest machines, provided that they have passed both the European and American standards for safety and efficacy.

One of her latest is the Clearlight Laser that set her back Php4 million. The latest iteration of a machine she already has, it can reduce wrinkles in areas that require gentler handling—around the eyes, for example, or around the mouth and the neck. Unlike other lasers that use thermal energy—which can darken skin and cause epidermal damage (surface wounding)—Clearlight is non-ablative. It smoothens and tightens skin with brightening as an added effect.

Results are also quicker. Patients have reported smoother skin and less visible wrinkles. Instead of undergoing six to eight sessions to see the full effect, patients need only four to six, 45-minute pain-free sessions every two weeks. Each session costs Php12,000 although the clinic offers discounts for those who book a minimum number of sessions.


Nonsurgical treatments that promise effective results are now preferred by the skincare industry. Vicki Belo’s Thermilift promises effects that last as long as five years. Thermilift uses radio frequency or RF to penetrate different layers of the face to reduce sagging and wrinkles.

The latest version comes with a smart probe that emits various degrees of heat depending on which layer and area is targeted. Middle-aged patients with slightly sagging facial muscles and wrinkles can benefit from Thermilift as it lifts the neck, cheeks and jawline. It can also make jowls look less pronounced.

The 45-minute treatment starts with the probe evenly spreading heat in the form of radio waves in the cheek, jaw and neck areas. A pleasant side effect is skin tightening.

Trained doctors at Belo poke a needle on the patient’s chin, cheeks and the area behind her ear before inserting the probe. There will be some swelling so activities should be limited immediately after the session.

American plastic surgeon Brian Kinney who was at the launch of Thermilift in the Philippines said that effects could last for five years and can be seen in as short as two weeks. By the sixth month, Thermilift’s effect would be at almost 90% he said.

There’s no need to redo Thermilift because collagen production continues to be stimulated even after the procedure. Kinney terms it “a progressive tightening effect.” If you opt for Thermilift, prepare to shell out Php106,000.


For young-looking, supple skin hydration is key. This is the premise behind Aivee Clinic’s Automated Skin Infusion (ASI) treatment. The Korean-made machine looks like a gun with a 31-gauge needle that can be loaded with moisture-enhancing boosters like hyaluronic acid. It can also be loaded with vitamin C and glutathione for patients who want fairer complexions.

A doctor performs ASI using the gun that can calibrate the depth—between 1.2 to 1.6 mm—and amount of hyaluronic acid to be administered.

The treatment lasts 14 minutes, seven minutes (approximately 50 shots) on each side of the face. There is a low level of pain involved. Patients who have undergone the treatment have likened each shot to an ant bite.

For the maximum benefits that could last as long as one year, patients have to book ASI sessions monthly for three months. Some dark spots may be visible although they are supposed to fade after two to three weeks. The treatment is targeted at those in their 30s although patients in their 70s and 80s can also benefit from ASI although they may require more treatments.