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Top 5 Nonsurgical Skin Treatments

Hoping to look younger and better -- without surgery? One of these skin treatments might do the trick.

Looking for a skin treatment that could help roll back the clock on your looks?

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.

And, in fact, more women may be taking advantage of these opportunities than you realize. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgery (ASPS), more than 8 million women had nonsurgical cosmetic procedures in 2005.

At the same time, not every procedure is right for every person -- or every problem. To help you discover which of the top treatment options might be right for you, here are some advice on what the ASPS reports are the 5 most popular cosmetic treatments being done today.

Skin Treatment No. 1: Botox
What 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.

Botox 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; 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.

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 15 minutes.

Cost:Each treatment costs between $200 and $500 dollars, with the effects lasting 4 to 6 months.

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

Potential 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: Intense Pulses Light (IPL)
What It Is: Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) technology is a treatment breakthrough that can correct a variety of benign skin conditions, such as facial skin imperfections, the signs of photo-aging, birthmarks, unwanted hair, unsightly small veins, and other blemishes. It offers a safe, non-invasive solution that can be tailored to your individual condition and skin-type, providing superior cosmetic results and outstanding satisfaction, through a new process called photorejuvenation.

How Long It Takes: The IPL photofacail- taking about 30 minutes, with no pain, quick recovery and no downtime. It is often repeated for best results. The results are permanent, though new skin aging and damage can form over time.

Cost:The cost runs several hundred dollars.

Potential Drawbacks : According to the American Academy of Dermatology, possible side effects of IPL may include temporary redness, burn or blister in exteremly rare cases.

Skin Treatment No. 3: Wrinkle Injections: Restylane, Juvederm, Radiesse
What It Is: In the No. 3 spot is what some call the medical equivalent of "spackle and putty" -- the anti-aging solution known as "wrinkle injections." Unlike Botox, which goes into the muscle, this treatment is an actual wrinkle filler -- literally loading up your wrinkle with one of several synthetic substances that plump the skin and erase the line. Wrinkle fillers are among the quickest and easiest ways to instantly take years off your face -- with startling results in under 30 minutes.   Indeed, most women can get an injection in the afternoon and show up at dinner looking 10 or more years younger.

Most often used on the lower portion of the face; fillers target nose-to-mouth lines, "marionette" lines around the mouth, and "smokers' lines" on the upper lip, as well as being employed for lip plumping and cheek sculpting.

Types of Fillers: Several types of filler injections are available. They include collagen (Zyplast, Zyderm), hyaluronic acid (Restalyne, Juvederm, Captique), beads of polylactic acid (Sculptura), calcium hydroxylapatite(Radiesse), and polymethylmethacrylate (ArteFill).  The ASPS says hyaluronic acid injections are the most popular.

Cost and Duration: Starting at around $300 per injection, all fillers produce an immediate result after a 10- to 30-minute treatment. Collagen and some early hyaluronic acid injections last about three months, while newer versions -- Restalyne and Juvederm -- can last 6-9 months or longer.

Potential Drawbacks: While the risk of side effects is small, one significant problem is lumping under the skin -- a condition known as granuloma. When fillers are temporary, problems can be resolved via an injection that dissolves the compound. Granulomas that occur with permanent fillers require surgery to remove. Other problems can include tissue death, also requiring surgery to correct. The risk of allergic reaction is minimal, but the injections can cause a temporary redness and burning at the site.

Skin Treatment No. 4: Microdermabrasion
What It Is: In this procedure, doctors use a vacuum suction device, in tandem with a mild chemical crystal, to remove the top layer of skin cells. This brings new, more evenly-textured skin to the surface. This is one of the quickest ways to rejuvenate and revitalize your skin in just one day.

Precise and pain-free, microdermabrasion is best for ultra-fine lines, rejuvenating the complexion, increasing skin tone and color, and helping topical products penetrate more deeply and work better.  It's not suggested for serious lines or wrinkles, and it won’t help sagging skin or drooping jowls.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, microdermabrasion is frequently used as an adjunct to other antiaging therapies.

How Long It Takes: Although the process takes just 30 minutes, it does require multiple treatments and several weeks to see full results. However, you will see some difference in your skin almost immediately.

Cost: The cost runs between $80 and $150 per treatment.

Potential Drawbacks: Possible adverse reactions include a temporary, mild redness.

Skin Treatment No. 5: Laser Hair Removal
What It Is:While it might not make you look younger, it can make you look better and even feel more confident. That’s what experts report women say about the fifth most common nonsurgical cosmetic treatment -- laser hair removal. 

The treatment relies on energy produced by a laser to pass through skin, without harm, to the hair follicle. Here, it is absorbed by the melanin, or pigment, in the hair. This, in turn, causes injury to the follicle, making it difficult or impossible for hair to grow. 

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, the most requested areas for laser hair removal include face, upper lip, neck, cheeks, breasts, underarms, back, stomach, bikini line, and legs.

Because hair grows in cycles, Goldberg says only a portion of it is in the right stage for removal during any given time. It is recommended you undergo a series of 4-8 treatments at 4- to 8-week intervals to treat all the hair. Periodic touch-up visits are sometimes required.

How Long It Takes:Treatments can be as short as 10 minutes or as long as a few hours, depending on how much hair you want removed.

Cost:The cost of laser hair removal is about $80-$500 per treatment.

Potential drawbacks: There are usually no significant side effects.

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Disclaimer: Results vary, patients may achieve different cosmetic and weight loss results depending on body type, medical history, selected procedure and a variety of other factors. One patient’s success as shown by before and after pictures in no way guarantees similar results for other prospective patients.