Written by Dr. Victoria Cirillo-Hyland, Bryn Mawr Skin & Cancer Institute and Cirillo Cosmetic Dermatology Spa.
Today doctors have many non-invasive techniques to help you look younger and healthier.
According to statistics from The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, more than 11.4 million surgical and non-surgical cosmetic procedures were performed in 2013. Of those, 83.5 percent (9.5 million) were non-surgical procedures, and Americans spent $5 billion on them. Non-surgical procedures have increased by an astonishing 521 percent since 1997 and by 13 percent since 2012.
This dramatic increase is due primarily to recent developments in non-invasive cosmetic surgery making it possible to turn back time without the knife! This trend will likely continue as men and women look for excellent results with minimal downtime and risk.
Today doctors have a wide arsenal of tools available to help rejuvenate everything from our faces to parts further south. Treatments range from temporary—three to six months—to permanent.
Here’s a quick primer on the most popular non-surgical cosmetic procedures available.
Chemical Peels and Microdermabrasion
These techniques involve skin resurfacing procedures that gently exfoliate the top layer of dead skin cells while promoting collagen growth below. Fine lines and wrinkles, acne and mild acne scars, blotchy complexions, sunspots and rough texture are improved with regular treatments. Youthful, healthy and radiant skin emerges.
Typical in-office treatment time: 1 hour; generally lasting for 1 to 3 months.
You’ve likely heard of Botox®/Dysport®/Xeomin®—cosmetic injections that block the nerve signals that cause muscles to contract. This treatment results in softened lines and wrinkles that are caused by muscle contractions.
The most popular areas treated with this technique are the forehead frown and horizontal creases, crows-feet wrinkles around the eyes, upper lip lines, and tight neck bands. A non-surgical brow lift is also possible using these injections. You’ll see a relaxed and refreshed appearance, free of many lines, wrinkles and creases.
Typical in-office treatment time: 1/2 hour; generally lasting for 3 to 6 months.
Minimally invasive injections of fillers—Juvéderm®, VolumaTM, Restylane®, Perlane®, Belotero®, Radiesse®, Sculptra®—are used to soften wrinkles and fill in hollow contours on the face. The most common areas treated are the smile lines (nasolabial folds), marionette lines around the mouth, lips, under-eye hollows and volume loss of the cheeks and temples. Volume loss of the hands can also be treated with filler.
Fillers are among the most popular aesthetic procedures because they provide immediate results with minimal downtime and risk and result in a smoother more youthful appearance. Specific fillers are chosen based on the patient’s individual needs, so it’s best to consult an expert.
Typical in-office treatment time: ½ to 1 hour; generally lasting from 9 months to 2 years.
Intense Pulsed Light
(IPL) — Photorejuvenation
IPL uses multiple wavelengths of light to remove age and sun spots, decrease facial redness, soften fine lines and rough texture, and shrink pore size. This is the most popular entry-level aesthetic procedure for fair skinned individuals who spent their youth in the sun.
Typical in-office treatment time: ½ to 1 hour; generally lasting for years to forever, assuming you protect your skin from the sun.
Lasers use one wavelength of light to treat various skin conditions. Some lasers are used to treat deeper age and sun spots, tattoos and vascular abnormalities (such as facial spider veins). Other lasers resurface and tighten the skin. Wrinkles, mild-to-moderate acne scars and rough texture soften, the skin tightens, and age and sun spots disappear with the resurfacing lasers.
Laser skin resurfacing is the best way to reverse the sins of your youth … too much sun exposure, smoking and alcohol consumption! And laser hair removal is the most popular, non-invasive method for permanently reducing or removing unwanted facial or body hair. Laser hair removal is virtually painless and has no downtime.
Typical in-office treatment time: 1/2 to 1 hour with a few days of downtime for the stronger lasers; generally lasting for years to forever.
Non-Surgical Skin Tightening
Skin tightening procedures are very popular as non-surgical alternatives to more invasive and risky surgical procedures for decreasing skin laxity and improving skin quality. Different technologies are used to deliver energy to the skin, which stimulate new collagen production. Radiofrequency (RF), Near Infrared Radiation (NIR) and Ultrasound (US) are examples of current technologies used for non-surgical skin tightening.
Typical in-office treatment time: ½ to 1 hour; generally lasting for months to years.
Non-invasive Body Contouring/Fat Reduction
There are currently two approved technologies for non-surgical, permanent fat reduction: ultrasound and cold energy or cryolipolysis (CoolSculpting®). Ultrasound uses a handheld applicator to heat the fat, while CoolSculpting® uses suction and non-suction handpieces to freeze the fat. Both technologies cause a programmed cell death of the fat cells (referred to as apoptosis).
The most popular areas treated are belly fat, “love handles,” bra/back fat, inner thigh fat, and “saddle bags” on the outer thighs. Efficient, consistent fat reduction and enhanced body contour are now easily produced with minimal downtime. Although there’s no substitute for eating healthy and exercising, resistant bulges of fat can be removed non-invasively with minimal risk.
Typical in-office treatment time: 1 to 2 hours; generally lasting forever. The fat that’s treated is gone forever, but if you gain weight your body will store excess fat in other areas.
Spider Vein Treatment (Sclerotherapy)
Spider veins are very small, fine red or blue veins that look like a thin red line, tree branches or spider webs. Sclerotherapy, a minimally invasive procedure to remove spider veins on the legs, involves injecting a sclerosing solution (a “detergent” class of sclerosing agents) into the affected veins. This solution damages the vessel and over several months, the body removes the damaged vessel.
Typical in-office treatment time: ½ to 1 hour; generally lasting for years to forever.
If you’re looking to reverse signs of aging, consider a customized treatment plan. A combination of medical grade skincare products and treatments, injections, fillers, skin tightening and body contouring will make you look and feel your very best.
Dr. Cirillo-Hyland is the managing partner of Bryn Mawr Skin & Cancer Institute and the founder and medical director of Cirillo Cosmetic Dermatology Spa. Her practice focuses on the early detection and treatment of skin cancer, with a special interest in cosmetic dermatology. Dr. Cirillo-Hyland is a Harvard- and Penn-trained “Top Doc.”