To Smooth Fine Lines
When it comes to erasing clusters of fine lines around the eyes, between the brows, and across the forehead — as well as lifting droopy brows and jawlines — nothing beats Botox. "We’ve learned so much about the muscles and what they’ll do," Reed says. To lift and smooth the neck and jowls (a popular new way to use this injectable), Botox is placed in the platysmal bands, which run from under the jawline to the base of the neck, relaxing the muscles that pull down on the face. Cost: $300 to $1,500 per treatment; results last up to six months.
To Lift Slack Skin
Some doctors are using fillers in revolutionary ways that literally change how the skin hangs on your face. New York cosmetic plastic surgeon Yan Trokel, MD, created the Y-Lift, in which Juvederm is utilized to subtly boost the lower half of the face. Trokel inserts an instrument into a small hole made near the ear, gently lifts the skin back, then injects Juvederm to hold the tissue in place. "This allows you to lift up the lower face. And in the process, the neck is tightened, and lines there go away too," Trokel explains. The procedure is performed under local anesthesia; results can last up to two years. Cost: about $5,500.
In general, say experts, you will see best results with injectables if you start slowly with a temporary filler like Restylane or Juvederm (as opposed to a formula that stays put for several years). Also, you may want to try Botox in baby steps. You can always add more if you’d like, but subtracting is impossible (and you have to live with the results for at least three months).
The Big Guns: Hi-Tech Procedures
Smoothing, tightening, and boosting radiance
Depending on the intensity at which they are performed (most may be dialed up or down), these procedures are more costly and the age-defying results more pronounced than nearly any other in-office treatments, short of surgery. But beware: A single session with one of these high-tech devices can run well above $1,000, and you must go to an experienced doctor to have the procedure done. Yes, you can find someone who charges less (especially outside of a doctor’s office), but bargain hunting is definitely not advisable when it comes to heavy-duty lasers. If you can’t afford what an experienced dermatologist or plastic surgeon charges, then rethink your plan.
To Erase Sun Damage
If you have mottled skin and abundant age spots, a fractional laser (Fraxel is one of the most popular) is an effective option. This type of laser is broken into separate pinpoints (think pixels in a digital photo) that are able to target very specific areas like dark spots on the skin. The tiny wounds made in the skin by the laser kick-start a healing process that stimulates collagen production (your hands, neck, and chest can be treated this way as well). Recovery time is minimal, but for optimal results you will most likely require at least one more blast (if your sun damage is severe, you may need three to four treatments). Cost: $800 to $3,000 per treatment, with results lasting a year or more.
To Smooth Texture and Tone
If your complexion is dull, rough to the touch, and starting to grow slack, the Pearl Laser and Portrait Plasma Skin Regeneration are good choices for you. The Pearl uses a light wavelength to target the top layer of the skin, causing a remodeling process through collagen growth and resurfacing. One caveat: Your complexion may be quite red and flaky for three or four days, requiring what’s often referred to as "social downtime." (A trip to the movies? Absolutely. A trip to your high school reunion? Probably not.) Physical discomfort is manageable, say the experts, but the full recovery (as in no more flakes or pink skin) takes about a week, sometimes longer. Cost: $1,200 to $3,500 per session, and you should only need one. Results last up to three years.