Spare the Knife

Article excerpt

Byline: Sana Butler

The older I get, the younger I want to look. As a woman who has never believed in wearing makeup, I always assumed I would age gracefully and be happy about it. But that plan, which sounded so infallible at age 20, doesn't seem quite as appealing now that I'm pushing 40 and gravity is beginning to win the war.

Fortunately, I no longer need to go under the knife to retain my youthful allure. Advances in nonsurgical techniques have created a whole realm of possibilities for those seeking a new and improved look without plastic surgery. Indeed, the growing demand for less expensive, less aggressive beauty procedures--from radio-wave face-lifts to biodegradable breast-fillers--is, er, reshaping the lucrative plastic-surgery industry. In the U.K., the number of nonsurgical procedures more than doubled from 2006 to 2007, accounting for more than 80apercent of the total number of cosmetic operations. Even during the global recession, nonsurgical procedures in the U.K. have risen, albeit more modestly, as people seek the more affordable option.

Not surprisingly, many of these procedures are offered at hotel spas. The Leading Hotels of the World, a luxury hospitality organization representing more than 450 hotels, resorts, and spas, has the widest range of alternatives in a variety of countries. The Hotel Carlsbad Plaza in the Czech Republic offers cryotherapy, where guests, mainly locals, stay for several minutes in a room where the temperature is below freezing. The goal is to stimulate free-flowing collagen, the main hormone responsible for a silky-smooth complexion, which is plentiful in youth but fades with age (carlsbadplaza.net). Locals also can't get enough of the dry carbon-dioxide bath, which wraps the body in a plastic bag filled with the natural gas, reducing swelling and allergic reactions, and healing any scars. At the Terme di Saturnia Spa & Golf Resort in Maremma, Italy, clients can try Isophoresis, an alternative to liposuction that uses ultrasound to force vitamins and plant extracts below the skin to break down fat deposits. They dissolve into the bloodstream and are eliminated through the bowels and kidneys (termedisaturnia.it; from $240, compared with $2,000 for a basic nip-and-tuck). …