Slimming pens can prematurely age your face

How many injections will you endure to preserve the structural integrity of your face and butt? For a certain segment of the top 1% of the American population, the sky is the limit.

After giving birth to her first child at age 41, Jennifer Berger struggled to shed the last ten pounds of the 22 pounds she gained during her high-risk pregnancy. “I was doing weights and cardio three to five times a week, watching everything I ate, and I still couldn’t get rid of those last few extra pounds,” says Berger, who works in fashion merchandising in New York.

Not knowing what else to do, she saw a doctor who suggested tirzepatide, sold under the trade name Mounjaro in the United States. It is a new diabetes drug approved by the FDA (US Food and Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency) in May 2022. The substance regulates blood sugar, suppresses appetite and, if we believe the discreet reports exchanged recently in a beauty salon, it makes the extra kilos disappear as if by magic.

“Everyone uses Mounjaro or wants to figure out how to get it,” says New York dermatologist Paul Jarrod Frank. “Since Viagra hit the market, we haven’t seen a prescription drug generate so much hype.”

Applied weekly, the injection works in a similar way to semaglutides like Wegovy and Ozempic, this is the drug that, according to unconfirmed rumors, helped Kim Kardashian fit into the skintight Marilyn Monroe-esque gown she wore to the Met Gala. Kardashian has denied these rumors.

In recent months these drugs have been prescribed so frequently for purposes that are not included in their package inserts that they are starting to run out on the market, preventing some diabetics and the obese from accessing the drugs they depend on.

Many doctors fear that the recent popularity of these products, fueled in part by social media, is driving people to take them without medical supervision. This is risky, considering the possibility of rare but serious side effects like thyroid cancer, pancreatitis, and kidney failure. And drugs like Ozempic can also cause less severe but still debilitating symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, and a rapid heart rate, as many TikTok videos attest (see #ozempic).

Some of the side effects “are extremely rare when the drug is prescribed at the correct dose and used with close medical supervision,” says New York endocrinologist Rocio Salas-Whalen, who says he prescribed this family of drugs and their predecessors a more than 8,000 patients since 2005.

“Mounjaro is like the Apple 14 of these drugs,” says Salas-Whalen, who hasn’t treated Berger. The endocrinologist said the drug has the same power to control blood sugar as Wegovy and Ozempic, but that among his patients he has seen “almost double the weight loss and almost none of the side effects.”

The FDA reported that in its clinical trials, conducted with diabetics, patients who used Mounjaro lost an average of six pounds more than those who took drugs like Ozempic. Salas-Whalen, who previously worked for Wegovy and Ozempic maker Novo Nordisk, says he has seen similar results in non-diabetic patients.

Mounjaro may seem like the closest thing to a safe weight loss solution since bariatric surgery was first performed in 1954, but it’s not without its risks. The drug package contains a black label, which warns of the possibility of thyroid C-cell tumors. Like the first generation of these drugs, Mounjaro increased the risk of a rare type of thyroid cancer called medullary thyroid carcinoma in rodent studies.

None of these drugs are cheap: Unless the patient is obese and has at least one other “weight-related condition” (such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or diabetes), health insurance generally won’t cover the drugs, which can cost more than US $ 1,000 per month (about R $ 5,100).

The emergence of the “face of Ozempic”

Berger, who underwent fertility treatments to get pregnant, says she didn’t hesitate to get a weekly injection in her abdomen or shell out nearly $1,000 a month for the drug. And Mounjaro lived up to their expectations. In three months she lost those last twenty pounds that would not go away.

“It was like flipping a switch,” she says. “I used to look at food and I didn’t even feel like eating, and I’m a food person! I basically had to remind myself to eat. All those food cravings just disappeared.”

Berger was delighted with her new body. But the accelerated weight loss had a major side effect: Her face suddenly became thin, haggard-looking.

“I remember looking in the mirror and almost not recognizing myself. My body felt great, but my face looked exhausted, aged.”

New York plastic surgeon Oren Tepper says it’s common for weight loss to lead to rapid thinning of key areas of the face, causing an aged appearance. “In terms of facial aging, fat favors the person,” he says. “Weight loss may slow your biological clock but speed up your facial clock.”

Dhaval Bhanusali is a New York dermatologist whose famous patients include Martha Stewart. He observed the same thing in her office. “We’re seeing more and more patients using these drugs. Usually it’s people in their 40s and 50s who are losing significant weight and are concerned about aging and resulting facial sagging.”

Noninvasive procedures like Fraxel can improve skin texture and reduce wrinkles, but according to Frank, the only noninvasive way to restore facial volume is fillers, which cost a few thousand dollars.

To restore youthful volume to Berger’s face, Frank used Radiesse and hyaluronic acid-based fillers in strategic places: around the temples, under the eyes, in the buccal crevices and around the jawline, mouth and lips.

To easily restore volume, Bhanusali uses Radiesse in combination with Sculptra, an injectable that stimulates collagen production and whose effect can last up to 24 months (Bhanusali was a consultant for Galderma, the manufacturer of Sculptra). “The idea is to balance the face to combat depression and downward projection in the cheeks, jowls and other areas,” he explains.

“Luxury Medicine”

Tepper said he can eliminate all traces of “Ozempic face” with a deep face lift, which costs $75,000. He usually does the facelift along with a procedure in which fat is transferred from other parts of the body to the face (an additional $8,000-$12,000).

The high prices for these treatments are out of reach for most people, but for patients like Berger, who stopped using Mounjaro after regaining her pre-pregnancy weight, feeling healthy and confident again is worth every penny.

“I can’t even tell you how pleased I am with myself right now,” she said. “I used to hide from my husband when I got out of the shower. I literally walked backwards so he wouldn’t see my back. Now I don’t worry anymore. Because I feel great. I feel like I’m back to myself.”

Translated by Clara Allain

#Slimming #pens #prematurely #age #face

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