My Postpartum Snap Back Journey, Pt. 2: Ultherapy, Cheek Fillers And Botox
By Jennifer Cunningham
It’s been a few weeks since I had Cool Sculpting and EMSculpt therapy as part of my quest to “snap back” after the birth of my first child and I’m back at the office of Dr. Jennifer Levine, the double board-certified facial plastic surgeon, to continue to chronicle my progress using noninvasive procedures. The next problem area we’re tackling is the one that was most obvious: my frazzled-looking face.
To be clear, I didn’t want an extreme look or to appear to have had work done after seeing the toll the first few months of motherhood took on my face, I just wanted to look refreshed. Much like she did a few weeks earlier for my midsection, Dr. Levine suggested a combination of treatments to get the results I wanted. She recommended Ultherapy to stimulate collagen production under my eyes, followed by Botox on my forehead to relax my frown lines, and then filler in my cheeks (and possibly my eyes) to lift my drained appearance.
Just like my previous procedures, Dr. Levine said there’d be no downtime following the treatments. I could even put on makeup afterward. I still felt pretty nervous before we began, though. I’ve always been afraid of needles, and the thought of having one in my face – and so close to my eyes no less – was giving me major jitters. Dr. Levine said my apprehension was totally normal, while letting me know the sensation of the needle would feel like a small prick. She also said the syringes have numbing medication in them to further lessen the pain. Here’s how things went.
The practitioner first applied numbing cream under my eyes and along the top of my cheekbones, before Dr. Levine came in. The doctor explained that she’d perform two passes with the Ultherapy machine – one that was superficial and another that would go deeper into my skin to boost collagen.
The Ultherapy procedure was definitely uncomfortable. The sensation actually felt like a hot stinging sensation against my skin and I felt it even more around my eyes because the skin is thin there. Dr. Levine worked quickly to administer the therapy and the pain only lasted for only about a minute.
After Ultherapy, we moved on to Botox. For this procedure, Dr. Levine asked me to make an angry face and as I frowned she marked the areas, i.e. lines, she planned to target. The practitioner applied acupressure to my shoulder as Dr. Levine began to work. The procedure itself seemed like it look less than two minutes and felt like a bunch of tiny pinches. Afterward, my forehead appeared smoother, but Dr. Levine said it would take a few weeks to see the full result.
Last, but not least, it was time for fillers. Cheek fillers may seem like a weird postpartum procedure, but Dr. Levine said though my eyes are what appear tired, the root cause was actually in the cheek. She said over time the cheek’s malar fat pad loses elasticity and begins to droop, exposing more of the eye’s orbital rim. The purpose of the filler would be to set the cheek back to its rightful position and restore my face’ symmetry. Her method is to correct the cheek first and then assess the under eye area to see if it needs additional attention.
Dr. Levine began by marking my face’s injection sites along the top of my cheekbone, then she injected a syringe of Juvederm — a filler known for its lifting properties. I was surprised at how minimal the pain felt, the sensation was nothing more than a series of very small pricks. Because the left side of my face needed more correcting than the right, she used extra filler there.
After Dr. Levine applied the check filler, she had another look and my face and said that some eye filler would finish the look. She once again marked my face, but instead of Juvederm, this time she used another type of filler, Belotero, to smooth out my under eye area.
This round of injections took even less time than the cheek filler, and before I knew it I was back resting in the treatment chair, pressing two ice packs against either side of my face. Dr. Levine said I’d see the full results from the filler in a few days, and it would last for about a year.
Immediately after the treatments, I could see that my face – specifically my eyes – looked rejuvenated, like I’d gotten a good sleep the night before, which I haven’t in months by the way. My cheeks looked more voluminous and my under eye area was smooth and free of the puffiness that had been there 15 minutes earlier, despite the fact that I’d been up with the baby for most of the night. My cheeks were slightly swollen and sore for a day or two after the procedure, but I was able to go to work immediately afterward and take care of my baby when I got home.
What I also experienced was a shot of confidence that I’d not felt since before the pregnancy. I noticed that I felt more upbeat and was unafraid to minimize or skip my makeup routine before going out. It was assuring to know that I didn’t have to just live with the changes that pregnancy had wrought on my body and face. I could fix it.
“These procedures do make you feel better about yourself,” Dr. Levine said. “And I do think that that’s what people don’t realize. You feel more confident and you feel that change is possible, and that’s very exciting and empowering for people.”