Make the Most of Your Looks: Nonsurgical Cosmetic Procedures

Never before have there been so many nonsurgical solutions for your aging face. Our 40+ beauty guide tells all.

By Gale Ritterhoff
Photograph: Photo by: Plamen Petkov

To Shrink Broken Capillaries

If spider veins are a problem, consider the Vbeam Laser, which delivers long, intense pulses of light into the blood vessels, gently breaking them apart, says Manhattan dermatologist Dennis Gross, MD. Although quite effective at taking the red out, the Vbeam doesn’t damage the skin’s top layer so there’s no downtime, and discomfort is minimized during the treatment by applying a coolant, such as cryogen, directly onto the skin just before each energy pulse to prevent pain and burning (as well as to minimize any redness afterward). The cost of a Vbeam treatment is $200 to $1,600 per session, depending on the number and size of spider veins you’re treating. One session is typically enough, though if your skin’s redness is pronounced, a second may be necessary.

Serious Help: Injectables

Erasing lines and plumping and firming slack skin

To smooth skin (almost) instantly, you need a slightly more invasive treatment than light therapy. Typically called injectables, these procedures now produce better results than ever before, says Neil Sadick, MD, clinical professor of dermatology at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York. So rejoice: The days of frozen foreheads and crazy fish lips are over.

To Fill in Wrinkles

Hyaluronic acid — under the names Restylane, Juvederm, and Perlane — is one of the most common line fillers and skin plumpers on the market. Highly versatile, it comes in different densities formulated for different purposes: thinner for fine lines around the eyes and thicker for deep grooves like the marionette lines around your mouth. Your doctor can also use it as a volumizer (meaning it can fill in a whole area of the face as opposed to just inside a wrinkle) to plump hollowed-out cheeks.

Because a hyaluronic acid injection lasts only up to 10 months, it’s considered temporary. (Most patients require a series of two to four injections in order to see full results.) Be prepared for a bit of post-injection swelling, redness, and/or bruising. The cost is $600 and up per treatment, depending on how many syringes are used.

To Plump Deep Grooves

Nonhyaluronic acid fillers like Radiesse (made of calcium hydroxylapatite, a substance found naturally in the body) and Sculptra (made of poly-L-lactic acid, a synthetic substance) are used to fill in your deepest wrinkles and add volume to the face. According to Sarnoff, Radiesse is most commonly injected in the grooves that form next to the nose and mouth (the nasolabial folds, in doctor parlance). As a bonus, once this area is filled, the cheek also gets pushed upward and the whole face gets a subtle lift. Both injectables last in the skin for two or three years, thanks in part to the fact that they have been shown to boost your skin’s own collagen production. Cost: $1,000 and up per procedure and you may need one additional treatment, six to eight weeks after your first treatment.

Some doctors also use a patient’s own fat to add fullness to an aging face, says Jack A. Friedland, MD, a Phoenix plastic surgeon. It’s a safe alternative since you don’t have to worry about any adverse (allergic) reactions to the substance, but the harvesting process, that is, taking fat from somewhere else on your body, does require local anesthesia. Cost: $350-$5,000 and up and results last for a year or more.

Finally, Evolence, a recently approved injectable derived from pig collagen, is also being used in the nasolabial folds. It is said to present less chance of allergic reaction than bovine (cow) collagen, another popular plumper. One big benefit is that it offers a pliable texture that is especially "soft and natural when used around the mouth," Sarnoff says. Prices start at around $300, and results last at least six months.

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