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

Portrait Plasma Skin Regeneration, a procedure that uses heat from nitrogen plasma to cause a shedding of the skin’s outer layer, has the added benefit of also stimulating collagen builders deep within the skin to improve skin tone and texture over time. The healing process is said to last about a week, as the cells slowly exfoliate off, revealing a new, refreshed layer of skin underneath. Cost: $3,000 and up per session; most patients will need only one. Results last up to two years.

To Lift Very Saggy Skin

Few treatments (short of a facelift) are more effective at raising droopy skin than Thermage and Titan. Thermage uses radio frequency to stimulate the cells that produce collagen, lifting and tightening the skin almost instantly. Titan works in a similar way but uses gentle infrared rays to cause the collagen production. (Both companies claim the face-firming results will continue to improve for about six months after getting the treatments.) Deep-heat procedures may also be used on the neck and hands, and Thermage has recently developed a version for the eyes (some doctors swear the results rival those of an eye-lift). A pain reliever or local anesthetic is sometimes used as these treatments are called hot for a reason. Cost: For Thermage, you can expect to pay $1,000 to $5,000 per treatment, and one session is typically enough. For Titan, prices range from $1,000 to $2,000 and you will probably need two to three for optimal results. With Thermage and Titan, the tightening effects last up to four years.

To Tighten Loose Skin

To get rid of loose, saggy skin under the chin (not-so-affectionately referred to as the wattle), many doctors are now performing the SmartLipo procedure. In this treatment, a tiny laser fiber is inserted underneath the skin in the neck via a small incision. The laser fiber heats up and destroys fat, tightening any loose tissue, Sadick says. Results are permanent; as with regular liposuction, once the fat cells are eliminated, they’re gone for good.

But before you run out to try any of the above treatments — from the mildest light therapy to the most intense laser — heed the following words to the wise consumer: Make sure you find an experienced, board-certified doctor who performs the procedure you’re considering on a regular basis. That means he or she uses injectable treatments at least 10 to 20 times a week. For lasers, look for a doctor who has worked with the technology for at least a year. "The worst complications arise when, for instance, a family practitioner injects a dense filler like Radiesse in the wrong place, leaving your skin looking lumpy," Lupo says. Similarly, a laser operated by someone who has not been trained appropriately can leave you badly burned. To locate a board-certified cosmetic dermatologist or plastic surgeon in your area, go to the Web sites of the American Academy of Dermatology at aad.org, or the American Society of Plastic Surgeons at plasticsurgery.org.

At-Home Light Therapy

We’ve heard of do-it-yourself microdermabrasion. Now at-home light therapies are hitting the market too. Magic bullet or an exercise in futility? The jury is out but that hasn’t stopped a plethora of anti-aging options from popping up on shelves this fall.

The Light Renewal Skin Rejuvenation Therapy, ($335, perriconemd.com) by Perricone MD Cosmeceuticals, consists of a small screen filled with what looks like tiny lightbulbs (they’re so bright, the package includes eye shields). The device uses LED technology to soften fine lines and wrinkles; results are said to be noticeable in about two to three months.

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