Wrinkles are caused by different factors including age-related changes, sun exposure, smoking (or exposure to cigarette smoke) and heredity. Generally speaking, wrinkles can be divided into two categories: fine lines closer to the skin's surface and deeper lines or "furrows".
Less invasive wrinkle treatments are effective for the fine, surface lines with the deeper lines requiring more extensive cosmetic or surgical treatments. This article discusses these non-surgical cosmetic procedures...
Autologous: where the donor and recipient are the same person. With this treatment fat from another part of the body (such as the thighs or abdomen) is injected into the face to fill and smooth out wrinkles (also used for some Rhinoplasty procedures). Because it uses the body's own fat, it is considered a more natural treatment than some others currently available. If interested in this procedure, you will want to discuss with your doctor the risks of the fat not staying where injected (although newer techniques have improved the success rate). Usually performed in an operating room (often under sedation), can result in some swelling and bruising with recovery time of one to two weeks.
Cost: $900-$5000. Results Duration: one to two years.
This popular treatment involves the injection of small amounts of Botox®, a purified toxin (botulinum toxin A) into "wrinkle specific" muscles. Within a few days these muscles relax (losing their ability to contract) which lessens frown lines and smooths surface wrinkles. Popular areas for injection include frown lines between the eyes, wrinkles around the eyes ("crows feet") and around the eyebrows. This treatment is so effective that too much Botox® can make facial features appear fixed (frozen). Possible side effects include swelling and bruising plus nausea and temporary headache. Also the possiblity of a burning sensation may be experienced during injection.
Cost: $175-$800. Results Duration: three to six months.
With this treatment a chemical solution is applied to the skin causing the treated skin to peel off and be replaced with "new" (smoother, less wrinkled) skin. Used to reduce fine lines around the mouth and under the eyes, treat wrinkles caused by aging and sun damage, reduce age spots and freckles, etc. Not for severe wrinkles or sagging skin. Chemical peels are categorized in light, medium and deep treatments. Light peels are the lowest risk with little to no recovery time. There are several do-it-yourself kits on the market but if you decide on this, understand what you are buying and the expected results. Medium peels and especially deep peels are more serious treatments (qualifying as medical procedures) with possible side effects being swelling of the face and extended recovery times.
Cost: $175 (light peel) - $2000+ (deep peel). Results Duration: Light peel - six months, Medium peel one to two years; Deep peel up to 20 years.
Like fat injections, collagen is used as a soft tissue filler. With this treatment synthetic collagen is injected at the edge of a wrinkle (or line) to fill out the skin (also used in some Rhinoplasty/Nose Job procedures). Slight bruising is possible. Synthetic collagen (Zyderm, Zyplast, Resoplast, etc.) can cause allergic reactions so it is wise to insist on a skin test 3-4 weeks before having the procedure done (allergic reactions can result in itching and redness). At this time, at least one biotech company is developing a soft tissue filler made from recombinant human collagen. You may want to check with your doctor on availability of non-synthetic collagen if you are interested in this treatment.
Cost: $150-$600. Results Duration: two to three months.
Also known as Laser Skin Resurfacing this treatment utilizes short, concentrated light pulses to remove skin layer by layer. Results similar to dermabrasion (a treatment affecting deeper layers of skin) can be achieved with greater precision and accuracy. Can be used to treat the entire face or wrinkles around the eyes, mouth or forehead individually. Two types of lasers in common use are carbon dioxide (CO2) and the newer erbium which causes minimal burning of surrounding tissue resulting in faster recovery time (one week) than that of CO2 (up to two weeks). Done under local anesthesia unless treatment is more extensive (such as full-face) then general anesthesia may be required. Side effects can include slight swelling and skin redness plus possible stinging or itching. Use of a topical cream is usually necessary as skin dries/peels within the first week of treatment. If interested in this treatment, ask your doctor about the new non-ablative laser treatment.
Cost: $2000+. Results Duration: Can be up to several years.
This treatment involves the controlled spraying of fine crystals (such as aluminum oxide) onto those areas of the skin where dead skin cells are to be removed. Most effective for fine lines and upper layers of the skin (Dermabrasion is a more extensive procedure for deeper layers of the skin). Microdermabrasion is not effective for more obvious signs of aging such as sagging skin and deep lines. Irritated skin is a possible side effect. There are several do-it-yourself kits such as those shown below available on Amazon if you care to research and compare prices, see expected results, etc.
Cost: $90-$200. Results Duration: 30-60 days.
One of the newer filling agents, Restylane is a sugar-based gel filler (chemical name hyaluronic acid) for smoothing out lines and wrinkles. Treatment areas include softening frown lines, adding volume to the chin and jaw line, lifting the corners of the mouth, filling out the lips and even some Non Surgical Rhinoplasty procedures. Its popularity is due to the fact it is a natural water-retaining protein in the skin. When injected under the skin, hylauronic acid begins to absorb and hold water thereby filling out the immediate area. May require a topical or local injected anesthetic. Restylane injected in the lips may produce swelling from 24-48 hours. Allergic reactions are rare to non-existant.
Cost: $350-$600. Results Duration: Six to 12 months.
Before proceeding with any treatment, you are strongly encouraged to seek the advice of an experienced professional. If you need help locating a professional, you may find The American Academy of Dermatology at www.aad.org to be of help. You MUST understand the risks (possible side effects, recovery time) and potential benefits (expected results, limitations, duration of treatment) or you could be in for an unpleasant experience.
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