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Top 5 Nonsurgical Skin Treatments for Women

Maybe you’re a boomer gal who’s not yet ready for surgery, but definitely starting to panic about the aging process. Or maybe you’re a young woman — in your late 20s or 30s — looking to preserve your good looks as long as possible.

Either way, you may be a candidate for one of the biggest booms in self-improvement — skin treatments designed to update your looks without the drama, downtime, or cost of an operation. From wrinkle injections, to laser resurfacing, to the muscle-relaxing effects of Botox, experts say, a world of easy and affordable options awaits you.

Old standbys that treat skin by removing its outer layer remain popular, even as cosmetic doctors experiment with new devices. Chemical peels are the second-most-popular cosmetic procedure, with a total of 1 million procedures last year, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Among all cosmetic treatments, that’s topped only by Botox injections, at 4.1 million. Microdermabrasion – using a gentle sanding device to rub off the outer layer of the skin comes in as the fourth most popular cosmetic procedure, with 817,000 last year. In overall popularity of cosmetic procedures, it’s just behind laser hair removal, at 887,000 last year, and ahead of dermal fillers, at 778,000.

At the same time, not every procedure is right for every woman or every problem, and you may need to combine procedures in order to achieve the desired result. To see a brief overview chart of injectable solutions procedures view the Injectables at a glance chart. Here are the top five nonsurgical skin treatments performed on woman.

Skin Treatment No. 1: Botox

BotoxWhat It Is: Without question, the most popular wrinkle treatment — in fact, the most popular cosmetic procedure of any kind is Botox. This treatment consists of injections of tiny amounts of the botulinum A toxin directly into the muscle that lies below a wrinkle.

What it does: Botox temporarily paralyzes the muscle, allowing the wrinkle to relax so surface skin is smoother and younger-looking. “The toxin binds to the nerve endings and blocks the release of a chemical that would otherwise instruct the muscle to contract. This in turn causes the muscle to relax, creating a smooth surface where the wrinkle used to be,” says Rhoda Narins, MD, a dermatologist at New York University Medical Center. Narins says it’s best used for problems on the upper third of the face: “wrinkles in the brow, the ’11’ lines between the eyebrows, frown lines, and the typical crows feet around the eyes,” she says.

More recently, though, Botox has been used in conjunction with wrinkle fillers to increase the longevity of both treatments.

How Long It Takes: A treatment takes about 30 minutes.

Downtime: None, in most women

Cost: Each treatment costs between $300 and $500 dollars, with the effects lasting up to 6 months.

Negatives: If you’re looking for instant results, this may not be for you. It takes about a week to see a difference, and about 4 weeks to see the full effect.

Side Effects included droopy eyelid, headache, and nausea. There have also been reports of muscle weakness, localized pain, inflammation, tenderness, and swelling at the site of the injection.

Skin Treatment No. 2: Chemical Peels

Chemical PeelWhat It Is: No. 2 on the list of the top 5 treatments is the chemical peel. Chemical peels are a means to help improve the skin’s appearance. It reduces fine lines and wrinkles, improves mild scarring and age spots, and gives skin a better texture. People with fair skin and light hair benefit most from chemical peels, in terms of smoother, younger-looking skin. Chemical peels also rejuvenate skin that is wrinkled, blemished or damaged from the sun. Two types of chemical solutions (Phenol and TCA) are used in a peel. These chemicals cause the top layers of skin to peel away, allowing new skin cells to form and produce smoother, younger-looking skin. Chemical peels typically require multiple procedures to achieve the desired results. Depending on your skin problems, you may need several mild or medium peels.

TCA peels are mostly used to treat fine surface wrinkles and superficial blemishes, with a recovery time of one week. Phenol peels treat fine or coarse wrinkles, blotchy skin coloring, and sun-damaged skin. Patients tend to take close to two weeks to recover and will experience a few days of swelling. This procedure uses various compounds to “peel” away damaged layers of skin and surface lines and wrinkles.

The chemical peel is used for softening wrinkles, and correcting pigmentation and other sun damage problems, as well as improving skin texture. It also works to tighten skin and erase acne scars.

Types of Peels: There are three types of chemical peels — superficial, medium and deep, depending upon the type of chemical used and duration of the treatment.

“The deeper the peel, the more extensive the renewal process, with medium and deep peels able to stimulate collagen renewal, so skin is firmer and there are fewer wrinkles,” says David Goldberg, MD, director of Skin Laser and Surgery Specialists of New York and New Jersey.

How Long It Takes: The light or superficial peel is often called the “lunchtime peel” because it’s so quick and easy — taking about 30 minutes, with no recovery or downtime. It is often repeated for best results. Medium peels take 30-60 minutes, require a 4- to 7-day recovery, and last about a year. A deep peel takes about 2 hours, requires sedation, and needs about 2 weeks healing time. The results are permanent, though new wrinkles can form over time.

Cost: The cost runs from several hundred dollars to over $1,000.

Negatives: According to the American Academy of Dermatology, possible side effects of medium and deep peels include scarring. Deep peels can also cause a permanent change in skin color. Light peels may cause temporary redness. People with certain skin types have a risk of developing temporary or permanent skin color change. Certain factors can increase this risk: taking birth control pills, pregnancy, or family history of facial discoloration. There is also a low risk of scarring.

Recovery: Depending on the type of chemical peel, a reaction similar to sunburn occurs following the procedure. Peeling usually involves redness, followed by scaling that ends within three to seven days.

Medium-depth and deep peeling may result in swelling, as well as presence of water blisters that may break, crust, turn brown, and peel off over a period of seven to 14 days.

Side Effects: Since new skin will grow following a peel, it is fragile and more vulnerable to complications. You will need to protect new skin from overexposure to sun. People with a history of cold sores may develop a severe outbreak, but medication can help prevent this. You may need to take an antibiotic or antiviral medication if your peel is medium or deep.

The effects of a series of chemical peels typically last six to 24 months for mild to medium-depth peels. The effects of deeper peels can be permanent.

Face and Skin