Samuel Lam, MD, founder of Lam Facial Plastics in Dallas, Texas, knows that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and as a facial plastic surgeon, he takes pride in cultivating this experience.
When evaluating beauty, Lam puts balance before symmetry–and his outside-of-the box thinking is changing the way we see ourselves and others.
“Beauty is instinct,” he says. “You know it when you see it.”
A double board-certified facial plastic surgeon and a board-certified hair restoration surgeon, Lam has written five major medical textbooks, Comprehensive Facial Rejuvenation, Cosmetic Surgery of the Asian Face, Complementary Fat Grafting, Simplified Facial Rejuvenation, and Hair Transplant 360. He is also a fellow of the American College of Surgeons and the American Academy of Facial Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery.
Tell us about your practice at the Willow Bend Wellness Center.
We offer a comprehensive wellness program including a sleep disorders center, an anti-aging physician, full premier spa, Jose Eber salon, counselors and therapists, a dentist, a rolfer, and an acupuncturist.
What is your beauty philosophy?
I focus on what makes people different, not how to make them all look the same. Many people have plastic surgery and their brow is higher, their lips are fuller, and their jaw tighter, but they don’t actually look better. We are programmed to look at the wrong things—the jowls or smile lines—which can be part of problem in an aging face, but are not the whole problem. We need to reframe this thinking. I try to make the face more elegant by focusing on things that are different.
How do you apply this philosophy to fat grafting?
I do a little bit everywhere. If you only add fat to one or two discrete areas, it looks off. The trick is to place a little bit everywhere. The face will look magically youthful, but you can’t put your finger on why.
What is the perfect face?
The perfect face is a combination of ‘you know it when you see it’ and a lot of different elements. We are so focused on symmetry being the hallmark of beauty. Symmetry is nice if you have it, but balance is better. What balance means is that the face has the right sizes and proportions in its constituent elements. It also needs to be broken down by gender and ethnicity. There is no one-size-fits-all face.
What happens to the ideal face shape with advancing age?
Oval is the ideal face shape, and when you start to lose it, you see scalloping into the temple and concavity at the zygomaticarch or cheek bones.
What are your signature facial surgeries?
I do many lip reductions due to bad permanent fillers like fat, silicone or Artefill. I also specialize in ethnic preservation surgery of Asian faces. Hair restoration is another huge component of my business.
How do you approach hair transplantation today?
I use everything from lasers to platelet rich plasma (PRP) injections and topical products. I mix PRP with ACellMatriStem. This really really helps with making the grafts finer, with earlier growth, and more consistent growth. I truly depend on these products to take my results to another level. ACellMatriStem induces hair follicles to multiply in the patient’s own scalp. Latisse, which is used for eyelash lengthening, is also being studied for hair loss, and may have a role. ARTAS-brand Robotics or computer-assisted hair transplantation technology adds precision to these procedures and also allows one to avoid the incision on the back of the head.
Do you treat hair loss in men, women or both?
Both. I treat a ton of females. Female hair loss can be more devastating as men can shave their head. Women can’t.
Is there a tool you wouldn’t want to practice without?
Yes, the microcannula. It is just unbelievable. I can sculpt around the eyes without disastrous bruising and with absolute, unmatched precision. These are thin, small, and flexible hollow tubes with a blunt tip as opposed to a sharp one.
The past few years have triggered a lash craze. Just walk down the street and you will see all kinds of women—from teens to seniors—with long, dark, fluttery lashes.
Lush lashes give a youthful appearance and enhance our eyes. “However, as we age, aging hair follicles slow down the production of new lashes, causing them to thin out,” says Chicago-based board-certified plastic surgeon and creator of JF Aesthetic MD Formula skincare Dr. Julius Few.
Available by prescription only, Latisse is one of the most effective products on the market to grow lashes. The FDA-approved eyelash lengthener contains bimatoprost, a drug used to treat glaucoma, and clinical results show that you can double eyelash fullness and darkness in eight to 16 weeks. Latisse is applied like eyeliner with a small brush to the upper lash line once a day. A one-month supply costs $120 and must be used on a daily basis to start working. Once lashes have lengthened, the product can be used every other day to maintain fullness. However, there are side effects such as irritation, dryness, and possible iris color change for those with light-colored eyes.
If you are not ready to commit to a prescription product, but still want glamorous, dark, natural-looking lashes, lash extensions may be the best option. “Even though new mascaras on the market promise to enhance lashes, women just love the convenience of extensions—they wake up and look gorgeous,” says Courtney Akai, owner of Courtney Akai Lash Boutique in New York City. “It is such a time saver, not to mention that unlike mascara, extensions do not clump and they give a much cleaner look than you get with mascara.”
Extensions are customizable and range from high-quality synthetic fibers to mink lashes. Akai explains that lash extensions last through a full growth cycle of natural eyelashes, typically six to eight weeks. “That said, because each person’s lash growth is somewhat variable, I suggest light lash maintenance every three to four weeks to maintain a full look.” The cost for extensions run steep; for a full set at Courtney Akai Lash Boutique, expect to pay $250 to $550; $125 to $225 for a half set.
Makeup companies are cashing in on the long, fluttery lash craze with mascaras that mimic falsies and lash-enhancing serums that condition and strengthen lashes so they don’t fall out as easily.
A new mascara that promises the look of falsies is L’Oreal Paris Telescopic Shocking Extensions Mascara ($9.95). The 200-rubber-bristle brush coats every lash for extreme lengthening and separated volume without any clumps.
To condition lashes and prevent breakage, By Terry Mascara TERRYBLY ($44) contains plant glycoproteins to promote lash growth and collagen and hyaluronic acid to nourish lashes. The thick bristle brush creates a wide-awake look with sexy volume.
Apply a coat of Lancome Cils Booster XL ($23) right before mascara and watch how this micro-fiber and vitamin E rich lash base magnifies lashes and helps it stay put all day.
Essence Volumizing Lash Powder ($3.49) contains mini-fibers that are brushed on in between coats of mascara for mile-long lashes.
Lash Enhancing Conditioners
Only Latisse is clinically proven to grow longer, thicker darker lashes, but over-the-counter lash enhancers can help keep lashes healthy. “There are several over-the-counter eyelash products available today that act as “conditioners” for dry, brittle lashes, which through protective factors, may prevent premature breakage and thereby promote fuller, healthier eyelashes,” says Few. Look for ingredients such as peptides, plant botanicals, vitamins, and minerals. Remember, if you stop using these lash stimulating products, lashes will go back to their original state.
A high concentration of patent-pending prostaglandin analogue complex in PeterThomasRoth Lashes to Die for Platinum ($125) works to increase length, thickness, and fullness in eight weeks. Nourishing vitamins A, C, and E, and pro-vitamin B5 help strengthen and condition lashes. Prevage Clinical Lash and Brow Serum $98 treats lash breakage with a triple peptide complex, vitamins, and antioxidants for healthier, fuller lashes in as little as two weeks. Plant-based peptides and soy and amino acids in Tarte MultiplEYE Lash Enhancer ($65) help grow and condition lashes in as little as four weeks.
Long, fluttering eyelashes have long been prized as signs of beauty. Unfortunately, as we age, our lashes become thinner and shorter, a condition often unaddressed, according to a recent survey sponsored by women’s health information resource HealthyWomen and Allergan.
The study, which surveyed HealthyWomen readers between the ages of 35 and 60, revealed that 80% of women consider their eyes to be their best feature, but an astonishing 90% of women who notice thinning lashes do not see a doctor about the condition.
So what gives? Perhaps it’s the belief that nothing can be done. More than 50% of women in the study reported that no lash products have provided satisfaction in making their lashes fuller.
Generally, there is no cause for alarm if you lashes aren’t as full and long as they once were. However, in addition to aging there are many reasons your lashes might be dwindling, including: scrubbing or rubbing eyelashes too hard, heredity, medical conditions, and certain medications and treatments.
So what can be done—plenty from a cosmetic and treatment perspective.
1. Mascara—a plethora of mascaras offer both volumizing and lengthening benefits, and often use polymers in their formulations to add volume and length. Check out the new Clinique High Impact Extreme Volume Mascara ($19.50) for a wide-eyed voluminous look or Lancôme L’Extreme–Instant Extensions Lengthening Mascara ($26), which attaches little fibers to eyelashes to extend their length.
2. Over-the-Counter Cosmetic Products/Lash-Boosting Serums—loaded with vitamins and moisturizers these products are formulated to enhance lash strength and length. Lashipix ($70) has been clinically proven to increase the appearance of eyelash fullness and length. Neulash Lash Enhancing Serum ($150) was developed by opthalmologists to deliver enhanced lashes in 4 weeks.
3. False Eyelashes—lashes can be applied individually or as strips. Some of our favorite brands include Ardell Duralash Naturals ($4), which has a variety of lengths in black or brown, and Make Up For Ever Eyelash Strips ($16.99), which are available in mutliple styles from coy and fluttery to way-out-there. Be careful when using false lashes; the glue used to apply them can sometimes damage your existing lashes.
4. Visit a dermatologist—if your eyelashes are dwindling, you may be a candidate for Latisse ($120), the only doctor-prescribed product that is clinically proven to increase lash length by 25%, eyelash fullness by 106% and darken lashes by 18%.