To look younger, you no longer have to go under the knife—or spend thousands of dollars. The newest injectables and skin-smoothing lasers combat brow furrows, fine lines, hyperpigmentation, and other signs of aging for a fraction of the cost, with little to no downtime. "Scalpels are set to become a thing of the past," says Harold Lancer, M.D., an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the University of California, Los Angeles. "Hyaluronic acid fi llers and muscle relaxers are the modern way to smooth and lift." In fact, injectables (the most popular of which are Botox Cosmetic, Juvéderm, and Restylane) are the fastest-growing category in cosmetic surgery, with roughly 4.5 million people—both women and men—opting for them last year, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. To achieve younger looking skin, follow this guide to the latest non-invasive procedures.
If you have
WRINKLES ON YOUR FOREHEAD
- Try Botox Cosmetic, which costs between $300 and $600. With this treatment, a diluted form of botulinum toxin is injected into a muscle to temporarily relax it, smoothing expression lines. Since wrinkles are partially formed by repetitive contractions, some dermatologists are now also using Botox in areas that are still smooth but prone to deep lines (e.g., next to the eyes and between the brows)to prevent creases from forming in the first place. The downside is that treatments must be repeated every three to four months, and you may have slight bruising wherever the needle entered the skin. Be sure to choose your doctor carefully though: "You don't want to take away all movement," says Fredric Brandt, M.D., a dermatologist in New York City, who explains that it takes experience not to make a patient look expressionless. To find a boardcertified dermatologist or plastic surgeon in your area, visit botoxcosmetic.com. Botox is slowly overtaking the brow lift (which costs about $3,400), a surgical procedure that smooths lines by pulling up the forehead through incisions made in the scalp. Complications may include too taut skin and a higher-thannatural hairline.
- At-home fix Using a cream or serum with topical ingredients believed to impede muscle constriction may help soften lines too, though less dramatically than injectables. Both Sonya Dakar UltraLuxe-9 Age Control Complex ($185; sonyadakar.com) and SkinMedica TNS Line Refine ($70; skinmedica.com) contain a peptide that mimics snake venom and is designed to safely supply the muscle-immobilizing results of the real thing. GABA (gamma aminobutyric acid) is another popular ingredient found in products like 24.7 Skincare Targeted Wrinkle Treatment ($40; cvs.com) and Dr. Brandt Crease Release ($150; beauty.com). "GABA inhibits muscle contraction with linesmoothing results that can be quite noticeable," says Brandt. "In some cases, you can see results within minutes of application, and the effect typically lasts until you wash your face."
LIPS ARE THINNING OUT
- Try hyaluronic acid injections (Juvéderm is the current favorite), which typically cost between $500 and $1,000 for both top and bottom lips (one treatment should last from six to 12 months). Collagen injections are also popular; these injectables, which go by the names CosmoDerm or CosmoPlast, are fillers made from purified human collagen and cost between $400 and $800 per treatment (each one lasts up to four months). Both types of injections take only about 10 minutes, but they are painful. Many patients opt for a nerve block (similar to the Novocaine shot you get at a dentist's office) in addition to a topical anesthetic to make the procedure tolerable, says Jessica Wu, M.D., a Los Angeles dermatologist. Your lips will be swollen for about 24 hours and may look bruised for up to a week.
Lip injections are slowly making the V-Y lip augmentation, or lip lift, obsolete. This surgical procedure (which costs about $1,600) is designed to permanently increase the size of your lips. It involves making V-shaped cuts inside the lips, then stitching the cuts closed to create a more puckered-up shape. There is a six to eight-week recovery period, and risks include infection and possible permanent loss of feeling in parts of your lips.
- At-home fix You can get temporary plumping with products containing an irritant, like cinnamon, that causes blood to rush to the lips. Or pump up lips with hydrating ingredients like those found in Neutrogena MoistureShine Lip Soother SPF 20 ($7; at drustores).
EYELIDS ARE CRÊPEY
- TryThermage, a device that uses radio frequency energy to heat the skin, causing collagen to contract (and stimulating new production of this firming fiber) and saggy skin to tighten, says Heidi Waldorf, M.D., a New York City dermatologist (prices run from $1,200 to $2,000 per session; you'll need just one). "It's like shrinkwrap for the skin," she adds. But you won't get full results instantly—the firming becomes more apparent over six months. The most common complaint is pain; most patients opt for a prescription painkiller like Vicodin or a topical anesthetic.
Thermage is gaining on the popular eyelid procedure blepharoplasty. In this process, plastic surgeons reposition fat and tighten skin through incisions in the eyelids (cost: about $3,000). The top complication includes removing too much skin, resulting in a overly wide-eyed look.
- At-home fix Since zinc is essential for the formation of collagen and elastin, a topical product that contains it can help treat and prevent the problem, says Wu, who recommends Relastin Eye Silk ($69; relastin.com). "It has a patented zinc complex and comes in a light formulation, so it won't run into your eyes," she says. Another best bet: L'Oréal Advanced RevitaLift Double Eye Lift ($17; at drugstores), which tightens with a patented mineral complex, or Vivité Revitalizing Eye Cream ($69; viviteskincare.com for stores), which firms skin with collagenstimulating peptides.
SKIN IS GROWING SLACK
- Try Thermage (about $3,000 for the whole face; just one treatment should do the trick). Or opt for a combination machine like the ReFirme ST (about $1,500 per treatment; you'll need three to four), which uses a blend of radio frequency energy and infrared light to stimulate collagen (results last up to two years). You may need a topical numbing cream to dull the pain of ReFirme ST; side effects include mild swelling and redness that last for just a few hours posttreatment.
Thermage and combination machines are making the face-lift pass&eactue;. The surgery, which repositions the skin and underlying muscle (average cost: $7,000) requires at least two weeks of downtime, and risks include infection and nerve damage.
- At-home fix New handheld devices emit low levels of energy through red light that may improve tone. "The red wavelength causes mild inflammation, increasing collagen production," explains New York City dermatologist Steven Victor, M.D. "You may get a 20 percent improvement, not as much as an in-office treatment." Try Marvel-Mini Rejuvenating Facial Light Therapy Red ($225; nordstrom.com).
If you have
SMILE LINES AROUND YOUR MOUTH
- Try hyaluronic acid injections like Juvéderm and Restylane, which cost between $500 and $1,000 per treatment and should last for six to 12 months. Sculptra, a synthetic poly-Llactic acid injection that runs about $1,300 per session (you'll need about four at monthly intervals, with results lasting up to two years) is a second, less common option.
Both types of injectable are used to restore fullness, but they do it in different ways. Hyaluronic acid is injected directly into the nasolabial folds to fill them instantly, while Sculptra is injected into the deeper layers of the skin to stimulate collagen production, a gradual process that takes about six months, says Francesca Fusco, M.D., a New York City dermatologist. "The poly-L-lactic acid acts as a trigger, then slowly fades away as your body's collagen fills in the once-hollow area ," she adds. It's a good option for people who have lost substantial fat in the cheeks and around the mouth, explains Victor.
A recent University of Michigan study showed that Restylane triggers collagen production as well, though only a tiny amount when compared to Sculptra. "The skin appears to grow smoother in areas injected with fillers, so the hope is that you'll need less correction over time," says Wu. General complaints include pain (a topical anesthetic is typical) and temporary bumps and bruising, which are more common with Sculptra because it's placed deeper in the skin and uses a larger needle.
Hyaluronic and poly-Llactic acid injectables are more popular now than the lower face-lift ($5,000 and up), which requires incisions in front of the ears to tighten the skin in the lower half of the face. Aside from a week or more of recovery, possible side effects include scarring, infection, and asymmetry (when one side of the face is pulled tighter than the other).
At-home fix Topical peptides, strings of protein molecules, help activate collagen production in a less dramatic way than Sculptra, while topically applied hyaluronic acid makes skin look fuller immediately. To help your cheeks maintain a plump, youthful look, apply—morning and night—a serum containing both, such as Bliss the Youth As We Know It Concentrate ($70; blissworld.com).