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Six weeks ago, these women had terrible skin.

Can you guess who was the smoker, the overtanner, the acne sufferer and the skin-care neglecter?

It used to be that when a woman wanted to erase heavy sun damage, wrinkles, or acne scars, she had two options: Go to a doctor for a deep CO2 chemical peel (which yielded good results almost immediately but required weeks of downtime) or endure an interminable series of lighter acid peels (which took years to change the skin). The alternative? Just live with it. Today however, skin improvement is on speed dial. “Noninvasive technology has progressed rapidly in the last 10 years,” says Francesca Fusco, MD, a New York City-based cosmetic dermatologist. “Now, if someone comes in with brown spots or fine lines or scars, we can laser away in five minutes what light chemical peels required years to change.” For women who took less-than-perfect care of their skin in their teens and twenties (read: most of us), it’s a relief to know that at least some of the damage can be undone. “With current technology, doctors are able to give your skin a new identity,” says Neal Schultz, MD, a cosmetic dermatologist in New York City. To prove our point, we found four women who allowed us put these promises to the test.

The smoker

Alison Grant, 50

Alison picked up smoking as a high-school freshman and maintained the habit throughout college. She quit briefly after graduation but resumed her pack-a-day ways when she went to work for Club Med in the Caribbean. “All the European guests smoked,” she says. In the ensuing 25 years, her affair with cigarettes has been on-again, off-again. After 9/11, in her job as a psychotherapist, the stress of treating patients from the emotional fallout from the disaster reignited her addiction.

Concerned about her health, she finally broke the habit in 2002—but realized later that her looks had suffered, too. “About five years ago, I started noticing vertical lines around my lips,” she says. “I’m guessing the looseness and the dryness of skin around my mouth are also by-products of smoking.”

The solution

Fusco opted to treat Alison with two Fraxel Restore laser sessions. She also injected Belotero, a hyaluronic acid filler, into the lines around her lips, as well as the “marionette” grooves on either side of her mouth. Finally, she gave Alison a touch of Botox in her forehead to smooth things out there, too. Post treatment, the smoker’s lines around Alison’s mouth vanished completely (part of the price: As with any filler, she had mild swelling and bruising for a few days). Between her two laser treatments, she followed a simple at-home routine: a gentle cleanser, a cream to even skin tone, a moisturizer, a night treatment with retinol and an eye cream.

Six weeks after Alison began treatment, her skin was totally rejuvenated. The lines were gone, and so was the uneven tone. “It’s amazing,” she says. “I wanted to do something nice for myself on my 50th birthday, and this is a perfect way to launch my new commitment to taking better care of my skin.”

 

Source: More. June, 2013.

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