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Dermal Fillers and Fat Grafting… for the Vocal Cords?

Most cosmetic surgeons work on improving people’s looks, and call it a day. But what about improving people’s voices? A recent post on RealSelf highlights injectable procedures that can enhance vocal performance. Known as the voice lift, this procedure is becoming more popular on both sides of the Atlantic, although many doctors regard the procedure as being too risky.
The voice naturally ages as we get older. In part, this is because vocal cords thin over time, making the voice sound crackly. By adding volume to targeted points in the larynx, cosmetic surgeons are able to restore the vocal cords. However, the procedure is far from perfect.
How does it work? There are two approaches to adding volume in the larynx. One is through fat grafting, which is often used for facial rejuvenation. During this procedure, unwanted fat is taken from the stomach or elsewhere on the body. After being specially treated, it is “grafted on to the vocal folds to plump them up and enhance voice performance,” writes the Daily Mail.
The other approach is through using dermal fillers. These injectable products – such as Juvederm, Latisse, Radiesse, Restylane, and Sculptra – can also be used to add volume to the vocal cords.
In the United States, the voice lift is usually used for cosmetic purposes, and fat grafting can cost up to $25,000. In the United Kingdom, it is typically used for medical purposes, such as to help treat patients recovering from throat cancer.
There are several problems with these treatments. They are limited in their effectiveness, and only tend to improve the voice for a few weeks. While surgical interventions would provide longer-term benefits, no responsible surgeon would perform such a procedure to alter a normal voice. Even with state-of-the-art techniques, the risk of complications is too great, and cannot outweigh the limited benefits.
Photo credit: LuckyLouie, Wikimedia Commons

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