The distance between our ideal selves and who we see in the mirror has spawned countless products, traditions, and rituals over the course of human history. We can thank that drive toward a better version of ourselves for everything from perfume to tattoos to fashion to the entire fitness industry.
And as the saying goes: The more things change, the more they stay the same. As innovation soldiers on, it has opened up entirely new ways for us to enhance our appearance. Here are just a few examples of essentially ubiquitous options today that weren’t even available to our grandparents.
When it comes to getting rid of excess fat, there are countless paths (some of them bogus). There are also plenty of unique success stories, including the rather unlikely one behind CoolSculpting.
Manufacturer ZELTIQ® found its fat-freezing principle in an unlikely place: children eating popsicles. Researchers noticed that children who ate popsicles started to form dimples in their cheeks — which occurred because the intense cold caused the fat cells in the cheeks to die and be flushed out naturally by the body.
By 2005, ZELTIQ began bringing that same principle to more targeted fat reduction on the body’s trouble spots. Today, it’s offered by thousands of plastic surgeons, dermatologists, and medical spas. For example, Dr. Anne Taylor offers CoolSculpting in Columbus, Ohio for slimmer flanks, hips, and thighs, as well as perennial trouble spots like the abdomen, back, and fat under the chin.
Breast Implants (Sort Of)
While breast implants themselves were invented in the 1960s (here’s a pretty comprehensive history), they’ve also become much more complex since those first iterations. Everyone knows that the simplest choice for a breast augmentation patients is “Saline or silicone?“, but there’s much more to it than that:
- Today’s implants can be round or shaped, where the latter more closely mimics the natural contours of the breast.
- Patients can choose between smooth or textured implants. Smooth implants move more freely under the breast tissue, while textured implants tend to stay in place.
- Silicone implants often use highly-cohesive gel, which is thicker and firmer than traditional silicone gel. These implants maintain their shape even if the outer shell ruptures.
- All of these options give patients a much more personalized experience, making the procedure more appealing to a broader group of women.
Hair replacement in one form or another, like wigs and toupees, has been around since time immaterial. But in recent years, we’ve gotten much better at actually stimulating the body to regrow its own hair.
NeoGraft, which gained approval by the FDA for its successful hair restoration, uses a method called “follicular unit extraction” (FUE) to restore areas of thinning or balding hair. It works because the body has areas of the scalp that are naturally resistant to balding, even when thinning or balding has advanced on the top of the head.
Because NeoGraft is so precise, the procedure removes hair follicles individually in sporadic locations across the back of the head — so there’s no visual evidence to the naked eye that they’ve been removed. The device then transplants the individual follicles to the balding area, and the new hair growth begins in the months that follow.