Laser away wrinkles? Smooth skin with blood plasma? Here’s your tell-it-like-it-is guide to gold standard and breakthrough cosmetic procedures—what’s new, what’s safe, and what really works
INCREASE COLLAGEN: LIGHT DEVICES
Laser energy, radio frequency, and ultrasound all work by creating controlled injury to the skin that sets a wound-healing response into high gear. This spurns collagen formation and cell regeneration, and firms and plumps the skin.
3. ADVANCED: FIRM AND MINIMIZE DEEP WRINKLES
Cosmetic surgeons and derms across the country can’t seem to rave enough about the latest ablative fractional CO2 laser resurfacing innovations (brand names are Fraxel Re:Pair and Pearl). “While non-ablative version treats skin tone, texture, pigmentation, and fine lines, the ablative version takes resurfacing quite a few steps further to significantly minimize deep wrinkles and create enough thermal damage to stimulate collagen formation and firm the skin,” enthuses New York Dermatologist Dr. Patricia Wexler.
THE PROS: Because it’s fractionated, these carbon-dioxide-powered devices rent as destructive as the original CO2 lasers, and you usually only need one treatment.
THE CONS: You’ll require at least a week or two for recovery from post-procedure swelling, redness, and peeling. “Whenever intense laser energy is used on the skin, there’s a risk of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation,” says Wexler.
WHEN TO START: 40+
DOWNTIME: One to 10 days
COST: $2424 per treatment
FREEZE FACIAL LINES: NEUROMODULATORS, AKA BOTOX
From Botox to Dysport to the new Xeomin, purified, diluted botulinum type A injected into specific muscles of the face can temporarily erase wrinkles on the forehead, from lines between the brows, crow’s-feet, and even vertical platysmal bands (“turkey neck” folds) on the neck.
THE PROS: Serious—and, in the hands of the right doctor, artful—results. “A neuromodulator works with the yin and yang of elevator and depressor muscles to create better symmetry and open up certain areas of the face,” says Santa Monica derm Dr. Ava Shambari, author of Heal Your Skin. “If you inject a lifting muscles, you get a drop, and if you inject a constricting muscle, you get a lift. Injecting the corners of a downturned mouth can lift up those corners slightly and refresh the whole face.”
THE CONS: “Too much Botox can extinguish facial movement and expression,” warns Wexler. “It can take away the arch of the brows, and injecting every crow’s-foot will prevent your cheeks from elevating when you smile.”
WHEN TO START: 30+ or when wrinkles start to bother you.
DOWTIME: None, though bruising can occur at injection sites
COST: $397 per treatment; varies with dosage
MAINTENANCE: Results wear off in three to eight months.
Source: Marie Claire. October, 2011.