The skin on our faces is among the first to show signs of age. Thankfully, today’s beauty professionals offer a host of treatments for problems like sun damage, wrinkles, and age spots.
Keep reading to learn more about a handful of skin rejuvenation treatments aimed to erase the signs of aging and restore that youthful appearance you seek.
The following five treatments are listed in order from most aggressive to least aggressive.
Laser Skin Resurfacing
Laser skin resurfacing (LSR) is an aggressive, long-term treatment for skin concerns including acne scars, wrinkles, and sun damage. It’s also an appropriate option for individuals with texture and pigmentation irregularities.
Also called “fractional resurfacing,” LSR is a precise form of cosmetic surgery in which damaged layers of skin are removed from the face, neck, hands, and/or chest. The new skin cells that form during recovery can give your skin a tighter, younger look.
LSR is not for everyone. You should seek an alternative treatment if you:
- Want a quick solution with little or no recovery time
- Aren’t willing to spend over $1,000
- Have sensitive and/or thin skin
- Can’t commit to a rigorous pretreatment program
LSR employs three different types of lasers. The specific treatment you will receive depends on your goals and your condition.
Fractional lasers, often used to treat deep wrinkles, scarring, and other textural issues, work by drilling lots of tiny holes into the skin. Your body heals by connecting the dots – a process that results in tighter, smoother skin.
Ablative lasers, which are similar to chemical peels, are primarily used to remove thin layers of skin. This process erases scars and wrinkles. Non-ablative lasers are typically used to stimulate collagen growth. They do not physically wound the skin.
LSR is an outpatient procedure, but should be viewed as surgery. Most treatments last 60 minutes or longer. The healing process may take up to 20 days, and redness can persist for as long as 3 months.
A chemical peel is an invasive form of skin resurfacing in which a strong chemical solution removes the uppermost layers of the skin, allowing new, healthy skin to grow in its place.
The ideal candidate for a chemical peel is someone with light hair and a light complexion who does not smoke.
Chemical peels range in intensity from deep Phenol Peels to superficial peels like Glycolic Acid peels.
All chemical peels are performed by a plastic surgeon.
The chemical solution may be used as a spot treatment or applied to the entire face. For those seeking a shorter recovery time, we recommend multiple light-medium treatments instead of a single deep treatment.
Light peels are typically used to give the face a healthier, more radiant appearance. Alpha-Hydroxy Acid (AHA) peels, for example, can reduce the appearance of sun damage, brown spots, and fine wrinkles.
Trichloracetic acid (TCA) peels are used specifically to treat skin blemishes, pigmentation issues, wrinkles, and sun damage. TCA peels can be used on the neck, face, and other body parts with sun damage.
TCA has been effective in treating individuals with dark skin because it has less of a bleaching effect than phenol peels.
Light and medium peels involve some discomfort; recovery time is between 5-10 days.
Deep peels like Phenol peels are used to treat the following:
- Severe sun damage
- Deep wrinkles (incl. marionette lines)
- Pigmentation problems (incl. brown spots)
- Precancerous skin conditions
The main disadvantage of deep chemical peels is the bleaching effect. Unlike TCA, phenol cannot be used on other body parts.
A full-face phenol peel will take between 1 and 2 hours. Your surgeon will apply the chemical mixture to the face. Patients will experience a slight burning sensation (anesthetic is involved).
Your doctor will neutralize the chemical solution with water after it has worked on the face and will then apply a thick layer of petroleum jelly that must remain on the face for 1-2 days.
Recovery time for deep peels is about 2 weeks. Redness may persist for up to 3 months.
Everyone’s heard about Botox!
Botox is a famous anti-aging procedure that works by paralyzing areas of the face to create a smoother look that appears within the week and lasts up to 4 months.
Botox is a brand name. Other brand names include Xeomin and Dysport.
Botox was designed specifically to treat wrinkles. During the procedure, a toxin is injected directly into certain muscles. The toxin interrupts nerve signals and prevents the affected muscles from contracting – resulting in a softened appearance.
Botox is typically used to treat the following:
- Crow’s feet
- Forehead lines
- Frown lines
- Lip lines
- Wrinkles around the mouth and chin
- Neck wrinkles
- Depression (click here to learn more)
This form of cosmetic surgery takes just a few minutes and involves slight discomfort. Full effects will manifest 3-7 days after treatment.
Those seeking to correct sun damage and pigmentation issues should choose another form of cosmetic surgery
Photo rejuvenation is a light-based treatment aimed to boost collagen and improve the appearance of:
- Brown spots
- Broken capillaries
- Spider veins
- Sun damage
Before you go in for treatment, it’s important to understand whether you are receiving an IPL (intense pulsed light) treamtnet or an LED (light-emitting diode) treatment.
LED treatments are gentle, painless procedures aimed to boost collagen – resulting in a plumper, younger look. They are also used to kill acne-causing bacteria.
IPL treatments (generally referred to as PhotoFacials/FotoFacials) employ high-energy blasts of infrared light that penetrate deep into the skin. The light energy causes the blood vessels below the skin’s surface to constrict, which reduces age lines and redness.
IPL treatments can be painful. Patients compare the feeling to a rubber band snapping against your face. Pain will be more intense on dark areas (this treatment is not appropriate for individuals with dark/tan skin).
The average procedure lasts 30 minutes and involves very little down time; 2-6 treatments are recommended for maximum results.
The ideal candidate for photo rejuvenation is a man or woman with sun-damaged, blotchy, or discolored skin, or whose skin is marred by freckles, large pores, or wrinkles. Photo rejuvenation has also been effective in treating rosacea.
Expect each treatment to cost between $300 and $500. IPL treatments are more effective than LED treatments in treating signs of aging, and are more predictable than chemical peels.
Photo rejuvenation is not a good choice for individuals with texture problems like severe scars and heavy wrinkles.
Microdermabrasion is a popular new anti-aging treatment that doesn’t involve needles or chemicals. In effect, microdermabrasion blasts away dead skin cells with a concentrated spray of microcrystals (aluminum oxide, sodium bicarbonate, sodium chloride, etc.).
Some of the newest microderm tools use a diamond-tipped want to exfoliate, which is safer and less messy than the traditional method.
Professional treatments vary from $80-$200 per visit. Repeated treatments are recommended for maximum results.
You can also try microdermabrasion on your own with a DIY kit. For safety purposes, at-home microderm machines aren’t as strong as those sold to beauty professionals.
The overall principle remains the same whether you use an at-home product or visit a dermatologist.
Microdermabrasion takes place completely at the “stratum corneum” level – the topmost layer of skin. In other words, the treatment does not affect deeper layers of the skin.
Your body reacts to the treatment by repairing the mild damage done to the outer layer of skin. This process may cause mild swelling and redness during the hour(s) immediately following treatment.
Heralded as an “instant facelift,” microdermabrasion is an appropriate treatment for the following skin concerns:
- Fine lines/ wrinkles
- Sun damage
- Blemishes/ clogged pores
- Uneven pigmentation
- Skin texture problems
- Age spots
- Minor scars
Another benefit of microdermabrasion is the skin’s increased ability to absorb beauty products. With the stratum corneum barrier damaged, creams and lotions can penetrate deep into the lower layers of skin.
Microdermabrasion treatments tend to dry out the skin, and are always followed up with moisturizing creams.
Cosmetic surgery isn’t about what’s hip or popular; and it isn’t about which treatment is the best. The procedure you choose should be based on your condition(s), your expectations, your budget, and what your doctor thinks is best.