Skin Damage Control from Neck to Knees

Sun, smoking, yo-yo dieting — these sins take a toll on skin. We’re savvy about what to do from the chin up. Now, here are the best, newest fixes for everything else.

By Christine Fellingham
Balance out mottling: If you’ve got severe "pebbling" discoloration that makes skin appear rough, there’s a breakthrough: Photodynamic therapy, used to treat skin cancer, can also zap hundreds of spots (including precancerous lesions) in three to five sessions. "The doctor applies a photosensitizing solution and passes over it an intense pulsed-light or pulsed-dye laser which selectively eliminates the damaged cells," says Goldman. (Cost: About $700 a session.) Smooth neck banding: The wrinkling and banding that were once treatable only with surgery can be successfully reversed by Botox. "Whether you have vertical bands or horizontal ‘necklace’ bands, Botox will smooth them out by relaxing the bunching of the platysma muscle that runs across the neck and chest," says David Bank. Erase wrinkles: The filler Restylane is the treatment of choice if you have deep creases or wrinkles in your decolletage area. Or, consider the LED light treatment called Gentle Waves, recently approved by the FDA for firming skin. The light stimulates the skin to increase collagen and elastic tissue. The catch: It doesn’t have a long track record; tends to take half a dozen treatments to work (at about $100 per session) and results vary. Legs Telltale signs: Calves and thighs may start to sprout vascular roadmaps, from tiny spider veins and broken capillaries to large, swollen varicosities. You may also notice more dryness, flaking, and ashiness, as well as knee sagging. At-Home Solutions:Fight dryness: Slather on a body lotion that contains retinol, or at least an 8 percent alpha-hydroxy acid (such as Avon Skin-So-Soft Renew & Refresh Age-Defying Body Lotion or Alpha Hydrox AHA Enhanced Lotion); both speed cell turnover. De-sag your knees: Do lunges and step-ups twice a week: "Exercise builds muscle and muscle lifts sagging skin," says Kelli Roberts, group fitness manager for Equinox in Pasadena, California. A dermatologist can… Inject veins and capillaries: Saline sclerotherapy injections, the traditional fix for veins, have been scrapped for glycerin or foam solutions to treat both spiders and some varicose veins, with none of the intense burning and cramping associated with conventional formulas. (Cost: $300-$600 per leg.)Zap instead of strip: The worst varicose veins, once treatable only with a painful stripping surgery, are now being cleared with endovascular laser closure, in which the doctor inserts a laser fiber into the vein, causing it to collapse. "It turns a grueling, operating-room procedure into an in-office one that uses local anesthesia," says Mitchel Goldman. (Cost: about $2,500-$5,000.)Firm sagging knees: The newest procedure is an in-office technique called micro-liposuction. "The doctor suctions out fat through a tiny incision above your knee," says Deborah Sarnoff. Expect two days of swelling and soreness, plus about a week of wearing an Ace bandage. (Cost: $1,500-$4,000.)Tone loose skin: Since lipo doesn’t address loosened skin, some doctors combine it with four to eight sessions of one of the new skin-firming radiofrequency devices, such as Thermage. (Cost: $400-$600 per treatment.) Upper ArmsTelltale signs: The skin can become freckled and loose. (The triceps area is a fat depot in women.) The elbows may become rough. At-Home SolutionsSmooth it out: To ease roughness, try a product containing alpha- and beta-hydroxy acids, such as Neutrogena Skin Smoothing Body Lotion. Conquer darker spots: Combine a glycolic acid lotion with a hydroquinone fade cream (such as Glyquin Cream; about $75/tube). You should notice results in six weeks. Muscle up: Combining arm-firming moves (triceps dips, triceps pushups) along with regular cardio can really trim and tone this area. A dermatologist can… Cream away browning: Tazorac Cream (about $100/tube), a strong prescription retinoid, lightens spots usually in about six weeks. Laser stubborn spots: The Sinon or the diode laser can remove even the darkest, largest spots, often in a single treatment ($500-$1,000). De-jiggle: Micro-lipo and radiofrequency machines can be used to lessen wiggle here.Midsection Telltale signs: You may feel a lack of "snap" in your abdomen. Stretch marks, new moles, skin tags, and tiny red "cherry" spots may also appear. At-Home SolutionsRub away marks: Retinol creams may lighten pinkish stretch marks. Crunch a new way: Try yoga or Pilates.

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