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Skin Science

Choose An Age-Defying Method That Is Right for You

New anti-aging techniques are allowing women to look younger for far longer than ever before. Botox, Restylane, Thermage, Microdermabrasion and a host of new laser methods mean women everywhere are taking advantage of the latest in age-defying techniques.

The downside to this explosion in skin science is the confusion it can bring to those of us who need it most. Which techniques should we use? We don't want to spend money on Thermage when a round of facials would do the trick. Why waste time on Botox if lasers would be better? The following information will lead you through the maze of anti-aging techniques and help you make informed decisions.

Thermage

This technique uses radio waves dispensed through a pen-like instrument in a grid formation over the face. The heat from radio frequencies tightens or lifts the skin, removing or reducing wrinkles and other fine lines in the skin as well as producing new collagen. The procedure takes about half of a day, and although many patients report a pinching sensation, there is very little real pain.

Dr. Joshua Fox, director of advanced dermatology at the Center for Laser and Cosmetic Surgery in New York City, N.Y., says Thermage can be used on almost all areas of the face. "Thermage treatment was approved for wrinkle treatment around the eyes, yet we are finding that it offers even better results in other areas such as around the jaw, nasal labia folds, neck and chin areas," says Dr. Fox.

Thermage isn't for everyone, though. It works best for people in their 30s, 40s or 50s, who have some areas with wrinkles or sagging skin. It does not work as well for people who have advanced wrinkling or sun-damaged skin.

The results last between one and two years, and though costs vary, you can pay as much as $5,000 for the procedure.

Lasers

Laser resurfacing is performed using a beam of laser energy that vaporizes the upper layers of damaged skin with controlled levels of penetration. As your skin heals, new cells are formed and tighter, younger looking skin is the result.

"There are two major types of lasers used in resurfacing: ablative and non-ablative," says Dr. Fox. Ablative lasers include the Carbon Dioxide Laser and the Erbium, both of which remove the top layers of skin, tightening and remodeling the collagen. Dr. Fox says this improves the appearance of wrinkles, fine lines and to a lesser degree scars and sun damaged skin. There is approximately 70 to 80 percent improvement per treatment.

Non-ablative procedures, such as CoolTouch or Intense Pulsed Light, do not provide as much improvement, but usually there is not any down time. The non-ablative methods provide approximately 10 percent improvement per treatment.

When Monica Fedri, from Sherwood, Ore., wanted a laser treatment that would take care of her acne scarring, she chose a non-ablative method. Like many women, she needed something that would give her the results she desired, yet still allow her to return to work. "I had to wear a hat to protect my skin from the light, but the redness only lasted the day of the treatment," says Fedri. "I was able to go right to work afterwards."

According to Dr. Fox, some of the latest laser techniques combine both the Erbium and Carbon Dioxide lasers for better results.

Botox

Botox burst upon the scene several years ago and just never went away. Botox is short for botulinum toxin A, and yes, it really is a toxin. One of the side effects of this toxin is paralysis. Other possible side effects include dysphasia, headache, neck pain, bruising/soreness at the injection site and nausea.

Botox successfully treats severe frown lines, because when it is injected into the muscle group surrounding the brow area, those muscles cannot scrunch up for a certain period of time. The injections last from three to eight months.

Restylane, Radiance, Cosmoderm and More

Dr. Cheryl S. Citron, dermatologist and former president of the New Jersey Dermatology Society, believes that fillers are perfect for women on the go. "The pervasive trend is toward the less-invasive procedures with decreased down time," says Dr. Citron. "Working men and women can not afford the time at home hiding from the outside for days after a surgical procedure, so the less invasive options are much more appealing."

The new generation of fillers, which includes Restylane, Cosmoplast, Cosmoderm and Radiance, are largely comprised of natural, human-derived products. Since people don't often develop allergic reactions to them, delays for skin testing are no longer necessary.

"Since it is not made from animal products, we do not have to worry about allergic reactions," says Dr. Citron. "It is used as a soft tissue filler, for the nasolabial lines and around the mouth."

Filler, available at doctors' offices, generally don't take long to inject, and the results generally last from three to five months.

Microdermabrasions, Dermaplaning and Facials

Dermatologists aren't the only ones dealing with an industry exploding with new techniques. Aestheticians are now required to be both scientists and engineers as they utilize the newest potions and gadgets. Spas, such as the exclusive Belle Visage Day Spa in Studio City, Calif., are now offering facials that use both leading edge machines and the traditional creams and lotions.

The new ultrasound machines increase blood circulation and strengthen facial muscles. They can also reduce puffiness by draining excess fluid. These machines, used in conjunction with other techniques, can bring about amazing results.

Erica Trojan, a licensed clinical aesthetician from Wilmette, Ill., employs several different techniques in her practice. She is most known for her "medical facial" that uses different peels to exfoliate dead skin. Peeling is a method of taking off the top layers of skin to produce more of the necessary proteins that characterize younger skin. "It is multi-step and involves three different methods of exfoliation: an enzyme peel, a mechanical peel and a chemical peel," says Trojan.

Enzyme and chemical peels vary in their aggressiveness. Enzyme peels use natural enzymes and herbs for a gentle peel that causes light exfoliation. You can buy and use these at home. Chemical peels are more aggressive and should be administered by a licensed aesthetician or dermatologist.

Mechanical peels can include Dermaplaning and Microdermabrasion. Dermaplaning uses a planing tool that gently scrapes away dead and inactive layers of epidermal tissue. Microdermabrasion involves a dual suction/polishing technology using crystals and suction to mechanically exfoliate tissue. Like peeling, both Dermaplaning and Microdermabrasion reveal new skin and can remove spots and blotchy patches.

Today's anti-aging techniques are more diverse and more effective than ever before. With so many choices, women are sure to find a variety of methods that fit their lifestyles.

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