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So you want to look younger? You’re in luck. The new generation of non-surgical youth-boosters—injectables, lasers, and radiofrequency—address small age-related changes over time. Think reducing fine lines as they develop, rather than trying to reverse deep grooves that have been etched for years, so you look like yourself—only younger, says Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research in the department of dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital.
They’re also safer, easier, cheaper, and require much less downtime than solutions past. Trouble is, there are so many options out there—seemingly more every week—that it can be tough to know which will give you the most bang for your cosmetic buck. See which top treatments MDs say are worth booking an appointment for now.
Goal: Lift and define your cheekbones and do away with the “parentheses” lines running from your nose to the corners of your mouth
Old option: Going under the knife for an invasive eye lift, face lift, or silicone cheek implants, which can slide out of position
Fresh approach: Juvederm Voluma XC, a dermal filler
Injecting Voluma into the cheekbone area lifts the skin over your cheekbones, which naturally lessens the visibility of nasio-labial folds, and pulls the skin of the lower eye taut, too, to smooth crows feet, says Neal Schultz, MD, a dermatologist based in New York City. And because of the way the gel is made—with fibers arranged in a cross-hatch pattern, as if forming a dense net, it does a better job of padding sunken spots and lasts longer than other fillers: Up to a year or more vs. the six-month duration other fillers offer, adds Schultz. And unlike implants, Voluma will never slip out of place, because the gel incorporates itself into the skin’s layers. “With Voluma, you get a comparable improvement to surgery—without the risks or the costs,” Schultz says.
Good to know: You’ll see the final result before you leave the office, and there’s no downtime. The most common side effects include minor irritation, swelling or redness at the injection site. (Learn how to balance your hormones naturally—and lose weight for life—with the Hormone Reset Diet.)
Sessions: 1; about $1,200
Goal: Plump lips and fill fine vertical lip lines caused by smoking or sucking on a straw
Old option: Injecting lips with lumpy-looking silicone, which may have to be surgically removed later, or newer, heavier fillers that easily over-fill the lips
Fresh approach: Restylane Silk, a dermal filler
You’ve no doubt seen photos of celebs with over-plumped, strangely lumpy pouts; that’s unlikely to happen with this clear gel, which is made of hyaluronic acid, a hydrating substance that occurs naturally in the body, says Rachel Nazarian, MD, a dermatologist with the Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York City. “Because Restylane Silk isn’t thick, it looks natural when placed into fine lines around the lips, an area that’s notorious for getting overfilled,” she adds. Additionally, the filler gets reabsorbed into the skin after about six months, so if you don’t love the look, it will soften on its own.
Good to know: You’ll get immediate results that last around six months, with zero downtime. The filler contains an anesthetic so there’s no need for pre-numbing, and the most common side effect is temporary swelling.
Sessions: 1 or more as needed; about $800 each
Goal: Tone down fine lines at the corners of your eyes and mouth
Old option: Botox, which can stiffen the area, making it harder for you to make normal facial expressions, or heavy fillers that look unnatural
Fresh approach: Belotero Balance, a dermal filler
“Belotero is super thin, allowing me to get closer to the surface to fill in fine lines precisely,” says dermatologist Dennis Gross, MD, a New York City-based dermatologic surgeon and founder of Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare. Two reasons it’s a home run: Unlike Botox injections around the mouth, you’re at no risk of an eerily expressionless face, Gross adds. And the smooth, hyaluronic acid-based gel integrates fully into your own skin tissue, so you’ll never look like you’ve had “work” done.
Good to know: You’ll see immediate line-lessening results that last around six months. There’s no downtime and only a small chance of side effects (swelling, bruising, redness, pain, or itching). Plus, a major bonus: fillers made from hyaluronic acid have been shown to spur your skin’s natural wrinkle defense by ramping up collagen production and even preventing existing collagen from breaking down.
Sessions: 1; about $800-$900
Goal: Even skin tone and texture by tackling fine lines, acne scars, and age spots
Old option: Microdermabrasion, a facial in which a spray of tiny crystals physically scrapes off the top layer of skin—out-of-sun recovery is a must
Fresh approach: DermaPen, the only FDA approved micro-needling pen
“DermaPen has a cluster of superfine needles that punch microscopic holes in your skin, triggering a healing response that stimulates collagen and elastin production, and ultimately improves the texture and elasticity of your skin,” says New York City-based plastic surgeon Matthew Schulman, MD. Micro-needling has an edge over microdermabrasion because it encourages new collagen to form. Translation: your skin isn’t just smoother, with smaller pores and fewer brown spots, but it’ll end up firmer, too.
Good to know: The downtime ranges from a few hours to 2 to 3 days depending on how deep your treatment goes—it’s customized to your skin’s needs. Results are cumulative, so your skin gets better each time. Side effects include redness and, with more intense treatments, minor scabbing.
Sessions: 5-6; about $500 each
Goal: Treat active acne and erase past acne scars
Old option: Fraxel and C02 lasers, which can cause swelling, redness, oozing, and peeling that can last more than a week.
Next-Gen: Regenlite Transform Laser
MD says: One treatment with Regenlite, a laser light held close to the skin, can reduce pimples by 50%, says LA-based plastic surgeon Chia Chi Kao, MD. Like other lasers, it uses light to kill acne-causing bacteria and stimulate collagen growth. The key difference: Regenlite doesn’t use heat, which makes the body race to form scar tissue, leading to skin that looks waxy, shiny, stiff, or fibrous. “If you walk around LA, you’ll see people with this pasty, leathery look from more aggressive laser treatments,” Kao says. “Since Regenlite doesn’t heat the skin, it coaxes cells to make collagen that’s soft and pliable, rather than activating your skin’s emergency inflammatory process and scarring.”
Good to know: No anesthesia is required, and there’s little to no downtime. You’ll see some improvement within days but it can take up to 3 months to see full results, which typically last 9 months.
Sessions: 3-5; about $900 each
Goal: Melt stubborn fat pockets
Old option: Liposuction, which is invasive, causes major pain and bruising and puts you out of commission for two weeks, on average
Fresh approach: UltraShape System, body shaping treatment
“It’s the first and only non-invasive body shaping treatment that uses ultrasound energy to target fat without harming the surrounding skin, nerves, and muscles,” says Dennis Gross, MD. UltraShape works by literally shaking fat cells to death—they break apart and disintegrate before heading to the liver for disposal. Just like liposuction, UltraShape trims stubborn fat on the stomach, thighs, butt, and backs of arms, but since it doesn’t require an incision, there’s no risk of infection and you can be back at work the same day. Ultrashape also edges body shaping lasers, which don’t work on all skin tones, Gross says.
Good to know: There’s no anesthesia, no downtime, and no side effects. Expect visible results—an estimated 2 to 3-inch reduction in circumference—two weeks after your first treatment.
Sessions: 3; about $1,400 each
Goal: Repair sun damage by fading sun spots, smoothing wrinkles, and firming loose skin
Old option: Fraxel or C02 lasers, which can cause swelling, redness, oozing, and peeling for 4 to 10 days…or more
Fresh approach: eMatrix, fractional resurfacing using radiofrequency energy
“I’m using eMatrix to treat sun damage—it makes skin smoother, brighter and tighter,” says Jamé Heskett, MD, founder of The Wellpath in New York City. EMatrix delivers radiofrequency (electrical) energy in a grid-like pattern below the skin’s surface, creating tiny skin injuries that prompt collagen to regenerate. “It’s better than Fraxel or C02 lasers because it works below the skin instead of on the surface, so there’s less pain and less downtime with better results,” Heskett says. “It’s the closest thing to a facelift without surgery and downtime,” she says.
Good to know: You’ll see an improvement after the first session but the full treatment requires five. Effects can last 8 to 10 years, but Heskett recommends a single refresher session once a year for maintenance. Side effects include sunburn-like redness for 2 to 3 days after the treatment.
Sessions: 5; $500 each
Goal: Slim and tighten loose skin on your arms
Old option: Titan, Ulthera, which are painful and yield unpredictable results
Fresh approach: Thermi RF, radiofrequency skin tightening device
Thermi RF uses radio waves to melt fat tissue, which eventually drains from the body when you pee. The heat also stimulates collagen, so your skin contracts and tightens after the fat dissolves. This latest radiofrequency technology tightens loose skin and gets rid of bulges, but unlike pervious models, you can count on it yielding results in most patients, not just a few, says Yael Halaas, MD, board-certified facial plastic surgeon in NYC. Thermi RF can be done invasively, with slim cannulas going under the skin to cook fat cells directly. The treatment can also be done using a device that goes on top of your skin, called ThermiSmooth, but it takes multiple monthly sessions.
Good to know: There’s no downtime and you’ll see some difference immediately; your skin will continue to shrink for 3 to 6 months. The main side effect is localized swelling.
Sessions: 1 for Thermi RF (the invasive treatment), $4,000; 3 for ThermiSmooth (the topical treatment), $350 per session
Goal: Tighten loose skin at the neck and beneath the jawline
Old option: Thermage, which doesn’t work in an estimated one in three patients
Fresh approach: Exilis Elite, radiofrequency body contouring
“This radiofrequency technology is less painful, more effective and more reliable than older ones,” says Neal Schultz, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City. He reports that patients often come to him for Exilis after having Thermage with other doctors and being disappointed with the results. “Exilis works every time to tighten and firm loose skin on the neck and jawline.” The technology works by delivering thermal heat down into the skin’s deep layers, stimulating new collagen production.
Good to know: You’ll see results after two treatments, but Schultz recommends the full three to four, and the look lasts for up to two years. There’s no anesthesia, no downtime, and no side effects.
Sessions: 3-4, about $600-$800 each
Goal: Remove redness, whether it’s from rosacea, broken capillaries, dilated blood vessels, acne, acne scars, port wine stains, or cherry angiomas
Old School: A combo of fine needle electrocautery (where an electric current passes through a tiny wire to destroy the targeted tissue) and alpha hydroxy acids for broken capillaries, and topical (but slow and less effective) lighteners like hydroquinone, kojic acid, or steroid creams for other pigmentation issues
Next Gen: VBeam Perfecta, pulsed dye laser MD says: “It removes those tiny red vessels and pigment spots that give skin a blotchy appearance,” says Maine-based dermatologic surgeon Vermen M. Verallo-Rowell, MD, founder of VMV Hypoallergenics. The secret sauce: the Vbeam uses intense but gentle bursts of light to selectively destroy problematic blood vessels but not the surrounding tissue. They’re then absorbed into the bloodstream and eventually leave the body as waste.
Good to know: There’s no downtime and side effects are minor—just some redness that subsides within a few hours.
Sessions: 3; about $300-$400 each