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Great alternatives to going under the knife
Let's face it, we're obsessed with our mugs. We pick at them, plump them, cleanse and tone them, and we insist on knowing everything about them. Every wrinkle, every pore, every blemish, you probably know your face better than any other part of your body. And for good reason — your face is the first thing people see, and like a bad dream, it's always naked. On a fat day, you can cover your butt in a pair of jeans or cover a bloated stomach with stylish layers. But on a puffy-eye or a red-nose day, there is no such hiding. It's just you and your face, totally exposed. Sure, there's makeup, but that sometimes fails miserably. And then the woes of wrinkles. You can't hide those under foundation — it only makes matters worse. Fortunately (I think) in this world of instant mania, wrinkle reversal is no longer at the mercy of the unpredictable knife. In this, the face-age, what took years of repetitive smiling to create can be undone, at least temporarily, in a matter of minutes. Yes, technology has come a long way to alleviate the evidence of ageing with "minimally invasive" procedures.
But don't let the catchy title fool you. "Minimally invasive" does not mean idiot-proof. These treatments still require an artist's hand and a board's certification. Before letting just anyone plump your furrow, find a few board-certified dermatologists and schedule consultations with each of them. Look for specialty certification and credentials, as well as refreshed-looking before-and-after pictures. Then, based on your facial needs, choose a procedure that is right for you.
Here are our top five picks:
1 | THE PROCEDURE:
For: Wrinkles above the nose and on the forehead
The technology: Since its FDA approval in April 2002, Botox has created quite a facial frenzy. The fame of this injectible comes from its "insta-youth" effect. When injected, Botox, or botulinum toxin type A, temporarily interrupts the communication between muscles and nerves, paralyzing the facial muscles. The theory goes: If it can't scrunch, it can't wrinkle.
Cost: Around $500 per treatment
Results last: Between two and six months
2 | THE PROCEDURE:
For: Acne scars and fine lines
The technology: During this procedure, an intense beam of light energy (a.k.a. a laser) is directed at the area of skin you want treated. The intensity of the laser destroys the outermost layer of skin, the epidermis, in that area. The laser also heats the underlying layer, the dermis, to stimulate new collagen growth. As the dermis heals, new smoother, tighter skin replaces the old epidermis. In comparison with chemical peels and dermabrasion, laser resurfacing actually gives doctors more control over the depth of treatment penetration. The precision of a laser also allows doctors to treat delicate facial areas, such as around the eyes and lips, where fine lines occur.
Cost: Around $2,200
Results last: Three months or longer, depending on the treatment
3 | THE PROCEDURE:
For: Superficial wrinkles and acne scars
The technology: In a world of fillers and injectibles, here's another family. Sold under the brand names Restylane, Perlane and Juvéderm, this gel-like dermal filler pumps volume and fullness into deflated skin. We ususallly shun water retention, but her it's a good thing. The hydrophilic or "water loving" nature of the hyaluronic acid molecules and their 3-D structure allow them to bind many times their own weight in water and retain their voluminous results. Its non-animal nature also limits any risk of disease transmission or allergic reaction.
Cost: Around $600
Results last: Between six and 12 months
4 | THE PROCEDURE:
For: Allover facial treatment
The technology: It's like a much-needed facial sandblast. As your skin ages, it's natural exfoliation system ebbs, resulting in flaky, dull and dry areas. During microdermabrasion, aluminum or salt microcrystals pelt your skin, removing the outermost layer of the epidermis, the stratum corneum. The procedure reveals a younger, more vibrant epidermal layer.
Cost: Around $260 per treatment
Results last: Between three to six weeks
5 | THE PROCEDURE:
Calcium Hydroxylapatite Filler
For: Sunken cheeks, sagging jowl and deep nasolabial folds
The technology: You know it as Radiesse. Yet another injectible, this calcium-based gel filler stimulates new collagen production, so it not only provides volume and smoothes wrinkles, it strengthens. As your body absorbs this biodegradable filler, your body's own collagen begins to grow and replace the gel, yielding such long-term results.
Cost: Around $800
Results last: Around two years