What It Is: Also referred to as skin planing, dermabrasion is a skin smoothing procedure that uses a special device that rotates quickly to remove the outer layers of the skin. Dermabrasion typically goes deeper than its sister procedure, microdermabrasion, and removes layers of the skin that are still viable or alive. The benefit? It can help patients with more severe skin issues, including intense pigmentation, acne scarring, or deep wrinkles. It can also be helpful if you have age-related skin growths, precancerous growths, scars from accidents or surgery, or sun damage.
What It Involves: Dermabrasion is usually performed by a plastic or dermatologic surgeon. You may be awake while the surgeon applies local anesthesia to the skin being treated, though in some cases, stronger sedatives may be used. When the treatment is complete, petroleum jelly or antibiotic ointment is applied to the skin to help prevent scabs and scars from forming.
Healing time will vary depending on the extent and size of the treatment area, but most people can resume normal activities within two weeks. Sports and other high-contact activity should be avoided for 4 to 6 weeks after the procedure.
The good news? You may start to see full, complete results within several weeks. Amazingly, any scars, growths, or tattoos removed during dermabrasion are permanent. However, the procedure is not a safeguard against future signs of aging, so continue to wear sunblock and take other measures to protect your skin.
The Cost: $1,786 on average, not including additional expenses like anesthesia. Usually not covered by insurance.
You Should Keep in Mind: After the procedure, your skin may feel red, swollen, achy, tingly, or burning. Most symptoms will resolve within a few weeks, but your doctor can prescribe medicine to help control the pain. People with darker skin tones are also at a greater risk of developing dark patches on their skin as a result of the procedure.
A few activities will be limited for a short time after your procedure. You should avoid shaving for at least one week, be extra cautious about protecting your skin from sun exposure for 6 to 12 weeks after while your skin is still healing, and for roughly 3 weeks after the procedure, your skin will likely turn red every time you drink alcohol.
Not everyone is suited for dermabrasion. The procedure isn’t recommended if you:
Have taken oral isotretinoin (or Accutane) in the past year
Have burns, scars, or skin damage that was caused by radiation
Are experiencing a breakout of inflammatory acne or cold sores
5. Dermal Fillers
What They Are: Dermal fillers, also called soft-tissue fillers and soft-tissue augmentation, are a popular treatment that delivers immediate results to diminish signs of aging. They can return fullness to your lips, cheeks, hollow areas under your eyes, and deep creases, as well as reduce scars, erase fine lines, lifting the brow or down-turned mouth, and rejuvenate your hands
What They Involve: During administration, a dermatologist injects filler into the targeted area, often repeating several times to produce the best results. Depending on the type of filler used and the area being treated, your doctor may pretreat the area with ice, anesthetic, or a nerve block injection.
Several kinds of filler may be used, a few of which require allergy testing before administration. In this case, you’ll need to wait for the results from the test before getting filler. If you use your own fat as filler, the entire treatment may be completed in one day.
In most cases, a single treatment is enough to see immediate results that last anywhere from 2 to 12 months. Most people can also return to their everyday activities immediately after treatment. But exercise and strenuous activity should be avoided for at least a day. You should also avoid touching the treated area for three days, unless the filler used requires you to massage the area. Regardless of filler type, you should avoid sun exposure.
The Cost: $500-$2,000 per syringe, with costs varying depending on the type of filler used. Usually not covered by insurance.
You Should Keep in Mind: Some people may experience temporary, mild side effects after receiving filler, including redness, swelling, tenderness, and bruising. These symptoms will generally clear up within a week, if not sooner.
When performed by a medical professional, dermal fillers are one of the safest cosmetic treatments available, according to the AAD. Still, this treatment may not be right for you. Be sure to let your doctor know about any of the following before getting treatment:
Current medications, especially if you’re taking Warfarin, Aspirin, Ibuprofen, Vitamin E, St. John’s wort, or garlic or ginger supplements
History of bleeding disorder, cold sore breakouts, or heart condition
Easily irritated skin
Allergies and any previous surgeries and cosmetic treatments
If you’re pregnant
What It Is: Sometimes referred to as collagen induction therapy (CIT) or percutaneous collagen induction (PCI), microneedling is a procedure that uses fine needles or pen devices to reduce fine lines, wrinkles, stretch marks, and acne scars. Though most commonly used on the face, it can also be applied to other parts of the body. This cosmetic procedure is safe for all skin colors and types and can benefit most adults.
What It Involves: Though you may be able to find some derma rollers online or over-the-counter, the most effective procedures are performed by medical professionals—usually a dermatologist.
In-office treatment involves using fine needles or pen devices to create controlled microinjuries on the skin. As the injuries heal, the skin produces capillaries, collagen, and elastin that work to improve the skin’s appearance.
Each session can take anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes, depending on the size and condition of the patch of skin being treated. You’ll typically need 3 to 6 treatments to see the best outcomes, according to dermatologist Dr. Amy Kassouf. Most dermatologists will also schedule treatments 4 to 6 weeks apart to allow your skin time to heal. Meaning at best, treatment time will take 12 weeks in total, and at most, sessions can span 36 weeks. After your final treatment, results can last up to 12 weeks—though timing will vary based on age, skin type, the number of treatments received, and how your skin responds to it.
The Cost: $200-$700 per session. Usually not covered by insurance.
You Should Keep in Mind: The good news is people with a wide variety of skin tones can get microneedling without the risk of pigmentation issues that can occur with laser and light procedures.
However, microneedling isn’t for everyone. If you have active inflammation or an infection on your skin, including acne or cold sores, this procedure may not be right for you right now.
7. Laser Skin Resurfacing
What It Is: Laser skin resurfacing is a minimally invasive and non-surgical procedure for tightening loose skin, balancing skin tone, and reducing wrinkles, age spots, acne scars, and other skin blemishes. It works by using lasers to stimulate collagen growth and the production of new skin cells to resurface your skin and give it a tighter, more even look.
What It Involves: There are two main types of laser resurfacing: ablative and non-ablative. Ablative resurfacing works by using lasers that remove the outer layers of your skin. Because this version actually damages your skin in order to promote collagen growth, the procedure requires a local anesthetic jab or full sedation in order to keep you comfortable.
Non-ablative treatments, on the other hand, use a laser that passes through the skin, delivering heat without removing any layers. Because this version of the therapy causes little-to-no pain, it only requires a topical numbing cream.
Though less invasive than surgery, laser skin resurfacing may require up to 7 days of downtime after the procedure, but the benefits are impressive. According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association (AAD), laser skin resurfacing is the most effective procedure for tightening loose skin and it delivers the fastest results: within two weeks after healing. The best part? On average, patients can expect their new look to last anywhere from 3 to 5 years. Though some reap the benefits after only one treatment, most providers recommend a series of procedures to deliver the best results.
The Cost: $1,500-$2,500, on average. Usually not covered by insurance.
You Should Keep in Mind: The sensations experienced during the procedure can vary from individual to individual, but most liken them to the feeling of a rubber band being snapped against the skin.
The treatment is also most effective on lighter skin tones, though there are safe and effective resurfacing options for lighter-toned African American, Hispanic, or Asian skin tones. Darker skin tones may need to consider other resurfacing options, like radio-frequency or microneedling.
Patients should also keep in mind that laser-treated skin can be hypersensitive to sun exposure for up to a year following treatment. For this reason, many surgeons recommend getting the procedure done in the fall (if you live in the Northern Hemisphere), when you’re less likely to be exposed to strong sunlight in the months immediately after the procedure.
Finally, laser skin resurfacing isn’t right for everyone, including those who are pregnant, prone to cold sores or fever blisters, have a skin infection, or take certain medications, including acne medications that contain isotretinoin or aspirin, which can increase the risk of post-procedure bleeding.
8. PRP Facial Rejuvenation
What It Is: Short for platelet-rich plasma, PRP facial rejuvenation is sometimes referred to as the “vampire facial” as this treatment involves injecting your own blood into your face and scalp to reduce wrinkles, plump sagging skin, eliminate deep creases, improve complexion, heal wounds from facial surgery or injury, improve hair loss, and diminish acne scars.
What It Involves: The three-step procedure entails drawing blood from your arm, placing the blood into a machine to separate out the platelets, and re-injecting the blood that now has a high-concentration of platelets into your face or scalp using a syringe or microneedling device.
Treatment duration can vary, but generally each procedure lasts about 45 minutes to one hour. Though some people will experience more benefits than others, researchers have found that most people who see results will do so after three or more treatments. Even then, it may take a few weeks or months until you can reap the full benefits. Because few studies have been conducted by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), dermatologists still have some unanswered questions about PRP, including why some people experience more benefits from the procedure than others and how much time should be allotted in between treatments.
The upside? There’s little to no downtime required after each procedure and, if you’re one of the lucky ones, results can last as long as 18 months. In some cases, dermatologists may also inject a filler to help you see benefits more quickly.
The Cost: $1,500-$2,000 per session. Usually not covered by insurance.
You Should Keep in Mind: If you’re a good candidate, PRP is a safe procedure with little to no recovery time. You may experience a bit of pain, bruising, or swelling directly after the procedure, but, in most cases, these symptoms resolve within a few days.
Though PRP is considered safe for most people, it’s not right for anyone who has hepatitis C, HIV/AIDS, blood cancer, cardiovascular disease that requires use of a blood thinning medication, or skin cancer located on the face, neck, or scalp. You should also let your doctor know if you take over-the-counter blood thinners, including ibuprofen or aspirin.
9. Chemical Peels
What They Are: Also called chemexfoliation and derma peeling, chemical peels can be used to diminish signs of aging, including lines and wrinkles, uneven skin tone, dull complexion or discoloration, freckles, rough-feeling skin, or sun damage. Some dermatologists also use chemical peels to treat some forms of acne and melasma.
What They Involve: Chemical peels come in different versions of light, medium, and deep. During treatment, your dermatologist will cleanse your skin before applying the peel quickly and evenly to your face. If you’re receiving a deep peel, you may be put under general anesthesia. After application, your dermatologist will watch your skin and remove the peel at the appropriate time. Treatment can take anywhere between 30 to 90 minutes.