Today there are many ways to improve the appearance of your skin without scheduling a face-lift. And every year, more and more Americans choose to have one of these nonsurgical procedures.
Are you curious about, but unfamiliar with, your nonsurgical cosmetic options? Check out this list of the top five most popular, compiled by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons:
1. Botox, derived from bacteria, is injected into a targeted facial muscle to block nerve impulses. This temporarily weakens the muscle, diminishing wrinkles. Botox can be used to treat forehead lines, crow's feet, and frown lines between the eyebrows-but this last one is the only FDA-approved cosmetic usage. Results generally last three to four months, and side effects may include headache, soreness, and mild bruising.
2. Hyaluronic acid (HA) gel is a lubricant produced naturally by the body. It helps restore smoothness by binding with water to plump up the skin. Like Botox, HA is an injection that lessens the appearance of wrinkles. The difference is HA fills wrinkles, while Botox affects facial muscles. The effects of HA last anywhere from four to 12 months. Bruising, redness, swelling, and pain may occur, but usually go away within seven days.
3. Chemical peels remove the top layer of skin, reducing depressed scars and giving the skin a more even color. It takes up to 14 days for new skin to appear, and there are often special instructions about how to care for the skin as it heals. Infection and scarring can occur if the instructions are not followed.
4. Laser hair removal destroys hair follicles with heat. It may take a few treatments, but eventually the hair loss is permanent, doing away with the need to shave. Side effects can include blistering, discoloration after treatment, swelling, redness, and scarring. While laser hair removal is safe, the FDA has received reports of serious and life-threatening side effects associated with using large amounts of a skin-numbing cream sometimes applied before the procedure. Consult a health care professional before agreeing to the cream.
5. Microdermabrasion uses a handheld device to gently buff away the top layer of skin. This exfoliation helps minimize sun spots, shallow scars, fine lines, and uneven tone or texture on the face, neck, chest, and hands. Five to 16 treatments are typically needed to see results. Side effects may include pink or slightly red swollen skin, which goes away within a day or so.
While you don't need a referral for these nonsurgical procedures, it never hurts to talk with your primary care physician about any concerns or questions you have.
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You can't eliminate scars entirely. But you may be able to minimize their appearance. There are many over-the-counter products available to help. How well they work is unclear, though. For example, silicone-in the form of a gel or rubber-like sheets-has been shown to reduce redness and flatten raised scars. But the research on topical lotions isn't conclusive. Many recent studies contend that they don't work. But others suggest they may be effective for some people. If you try one, look for a lotion or gel that contains vitamin E or onion extract.
For more effective scar treatment, talk to your dermatologist about the following procedures:
Always consult your physician for more information.