Cosmetic Procedures for Skin
Nonsurgical Cosmetic Procedures for the Skin
It's hard to resist the lure of the needle and the laser beam-the needle and
the beam that can smooth wrinkles and give you a subtly younger appearance.
Many people who swore they'd never have facial plastic surgery are now looking
at their options and reconsidering. Part of it is the bombardment of television
shows about people having cosmetic procedures at the offices of Beverly Hills
doctors. It makes plastic surgery seem almost like a common occurrence.
But another big reason why more and more everyday people are having cosmetic
procedures is that the field has changed dramatically in the last decade. For
the first time, facelifts declined in popularity in 2005. It's a good bet that
the reason is the use of nonsurgical cosmetic procedures. These procedures allow
people to avoid general anesthesia and incisions in their face. Recovery time
is next to nothing, and the results are nearly immediate.
Common non-surgical cosmetic procedures
-- Botulinum toxin (Botox)
Botox treatments can smooth out the deep frown lines in the skin between the
eyebrows, the bridge of the nose, across the forehead and at the corners of
the eyes. Small amounts of botulinum toxin are injected into the specific muscles
that cause the frown lines. These tiny doses cause weakness and relaxation in
the muscle, which is then unable to make the frown. New creases are prevented
from forming. The treatment generally takes effect after about 3 to 7 days.
Side effects are minimal and can include mild soreness or bruising.
-- Dermal fillers
This is probably the fastest-growing segment in the non-surgical cosmetic field.
Dermal fillers do just what they say-fill the skin to make it look plump and
smooth. They're often used in the lips and around the eyes and mouth. Doctors
inject these substances into the skin using thin, tiny needles.
Collagen has been used as a dermal filler for years. The problem with collagen
is that it's made with human or bovine fat, and it's quickly absorbed by the
body, so you have to go for repeat procedures frequently-about every three months-if
you want to keep up the look.
Restylane, a hyaluronic acid filler (hyaluronic acid occurs naturally in the
body), often lasts longer than collagen. Restylane treatments generally last
for six months to one year.
The Food and Drug Administration has recently approved new fillers, such as
ArteFill and Radiesse, that last longer than earlier versions such as collagen
and Restylane, and can be used for deeper lines in the face. They can add volume
to cheeks that are sunken, and even smooth out a bumpy nose.
What are the side effects or complications?
It's important to remember that a non-surgical procedure is still a medical
procedure that should be performed by a skilled, highly-trained, experienced
physician. With the longer-lasting dermal fillers, for example, the doctor needs
to inject just the right amount, because once it's there, it's there for a long
time. It's difficult to go in and remove the substances.
Another possible problem is that nobody can predict how these longer-lasting
fillers will look over time. As the body ages, the fillers themselves may droop
and sag and cause additional wrinkles.
People who are interested in using dermal fillers could try the shorter-lasting
ones first to see whether they like the result. If they do, moving on to the
longer-lasting ones may be a good option for them.
-- Skin resurfacing
Skin resurfacing uses a laser beam to improve the appearance of wrinkles, acne
scars and sun-damaged skin. Some types of skin resurfacing can vaporize the
skin tissue one layer at a time to reveal fresh skin underneath. Others work
beneath the surface of the skin to stimulate the growth of collagen and tighten
Skin resurfacing doesn't produce the dramatic effects that a facelift does,
but it can greatly improve the overall appearance of the skin just the same.
It can provide a more uniform look to the skin.
Side effects or complications
Complications of skin resurfacing, if performed by a qualified professional,
are rare. They can include crusting, mild swelling, redness or brown discoloration
at the treatment sites.
-- Chemical peels
Chemical peels are commonly used to treat the skin on the face, neck and hands.
A chemical solution is applied that causes the skin to form blisters and eventually
peel off. The new skin typically has a smoother and less wrinkled appearance
than the older skin. Sags, bulges and severe wrinkles generally don't respond
well to chemical peelings. But sun spots, age spots, freckles, blotches and
dull skin generally do respond well to chemical peels.
What happens after a chemical peel?
After a chemical peel, your skin will be more sensitive to the sun than usual.
It's likely to be red and scaly for about a week. The blisters that form will
probably break, crust and turn brown in a process that may last for about two
weeks. Many patients have bandages on their face for several days after the
Who should perform nonsurgical cosmetic procedures?
The American Academy for Dermatologic Surgery warns that it's extremely important
to ensure that the person performing nonsurgical cosmetic procedures is either
a qualified physician or is supervised by a qualified physician. Follow these
guidelines if you're considering having a nonsurgical cosmetic procedure:
Make sure a doctor is on site if you have the procedure done at a day spa or
other type of salon
Make sure the supervising doctor is board certified in dermatology or another
specialty that requires equivalent training and experience
Ask any questions that come to your mind, no matter how silly they may seem
Be sure your medical history is taken
Make sure to have an initial evaluation by a dermasurgeon to ensure that the
procedure you're having is right for you
Ask about your options for pain management
Additionally, the AADS recommends avoiding having the procedures in someone's
home, in a storefront, a hotel room or similar location.
American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery; American Society for Dermatologic Surgery; American Society of Plastic Surgeons; Food and Drug Administration