So often, people think that a radically improved appearance must go hand-in-hand with going under the knife. In reality, a plethora of non-surgical options—ranging from at-home chemical peels and PRP microneedling to fillers and lasers—exist to help reverse the signs of aging. To save you from endless research and booking the wrong treatment for your desired benefits, we chatted with a few dermatologists about their favorite non-surgical anti-aging treatments. Keep reading to discover what they are, along with which you might want to book for yourself.
Meet the Expert
- Dendy Engelman is a board-certified dermatologist.
- Michele Green is a cosmetic dermatologist.
At-Home Chemical Peels
Before booking an appointment with your esthetician or dermatologist, know that you have an option that you can do at home. That’s where at-home chemical peels come into play. While they sound like serious business, these products feature significantly lower percentages of the acids used in in-office treatments. As such, they’re totally safe for at-home use, so long as you follow the directions.
“I am seeing some truly innovative products that can be used at home,” says board-certified dermatologist Dendy Engelman, noting that they’re beneficial in maintaining in-office treatments, as well as indulging in complexion care during a time where making in-office appointments is less of a priority due to safety. “For example, instead of a TCA peel by your dermatologist or esthetician, I like Glo Skin Beauty’s GlyPro AHA Resurfacing Peel ($85). This is a medical-grade peel that is safe to use at home.” Best of all, the peel comes with all of the products and accessories you need to give yourself a top-notch, professional-grade peel, all without leaving your home.
While sticking teeny-tiny needles into your skin may seem anything but natural, the process is actually one of the most natural anti-aging approaches there is, for it uses the patients’ blood plasma to create jaw-dropping results.
“Microneedling with PRP utilizes fine needles to create micro-injuries in the skin,” explains cosmetic dermatologist Michele Green, noting that the micro-injuries result in cell turnover, which leads to a boost in collagen production as the body goes through the natural healing process. “PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma) helps to rebuild the connective tissue as it contains powerful growth factors that stimulate collagen synthesis directly from your blood.” It’s these growth factors that work to heal and regenerate healthy, ultimately younger-looking tissue. Green says that patients can expect an improvement in texture, firmness, fine lines, superficial acne scars, and even large pores' appearance.
Botox is an injectable, but it’s not a filler. Often confused, Botox (aka botulinum toxin) is a neuromodulator designed to freeze facial movement in the injection site temporarily. While that might sound scary, it’s actually super beneficial because by freezing a wrinkle-prone area (like the forehead, between the eyes, or in the crows-feet, outer-eye region), the patient will still be able to express themselves, only without deepening the lines. So long as you get Botox injections from a skilled injector (i.e., a dermatologist), Green says that you can look forward to weakened facial movements and less noticeable lines overall.
While Botox is best known for wrinkle maintenance, many dermatologists are using it elsewhere. In Green’s office, for example, a popular use is in the masseter (jaw) area. “It promotes facial slimming,” Green says, noting that the effects of Botox injections can last three to four months on average.
Another type of injectables, dermal fillers, exist to increase volume in areas of the face.
“Juvederm Voluma, Restylane, and Sculptra are all used to re-volumize the face and reduce facial lines,” explains Green. “These fillers are indicated for injection into the dermal layer of skin for correction of moderate to severe facial folds and wrinkles, such as nasolabial folds, cheek augmentation, and correction of age-related midface contour deficiencies.” Upon injection, patients can expect the results to last between six and 12 months, depending on how much filler is used.
Then there’s Juvederm Volbella and Restylane Silk and Kysse, all of which are used for the lips. “Lip augmentation with dermal fillers, like Juvederm and Restylane are extremely popular in my office,” Green shares. “These hyaluronic acid fillers can be used to replace volume loss, augment thin lips that occur as we age, or enhance lips as a whole.”
Laser Skin Treatments
Like fillers, a variety of laser skin treatments exist. The most popular, however, is Fraxel. “Fraxel is the ‘Magic Eraser’ and the gold standard treatment for improving skin tone and texture,” Green explains, noting that it’s FDA-approved to help restore skin to a more youthful appearance. “It helps restore the skin to its original, perfect texture and achieves smoother, fresher, younger-looking skin, improved tone and texture, smaller pores, erasing unwanted brown spots, acne scars, hyperpigmentation, and surgical scars, and reduces fine line lines and wrinkles.” In short, it’s life-changing in the realm of anti-aging non-surgical skincare treatments.
Thermage is a non-invasive (non-surgical) treatment geared toward smoothing, tightening, and contouring the skin, which leads to a more youthful-looking appearance overall. “All skin types can be treated with Thermage as it is a radiofrequency laser ‘which is color blind,’” explains Green. The best part about Thermage is that one 30-to-90-minute treatment can deliver outstanding results and requires little to no downtime.
“There are multiple areas that can be treated with Thermage such as wrinkles and loose skin on the face, eyes, abdomen, buttock, and thighs,” Green adds. “As we age, the collagen that keeps our skin firm and tight breaks down, which results in aging skin that leads to fine lines and wrinkles.” Thankfully, Thermage exists to help heat the deeper, collagen-rich layers of the skin to trigger collagen synthesis and ultimately turn the clock back on again.
If your aging concerns reside in your body more than your face, Green says that CoolSculpting is a great non-surgical option to consider. “Coolsculpting freezes the fat by controlled cooling,” she explains. “The frozen fat cells necrose and are eliminated from the body.” This is particularly intriguing, considering fat cells expand when you gain weight and can lead to larger areas of weight gain. With this in mind, Green says that a single CoolSculpting treatment can lead to a 20 to 25% reduction in fat cells in a treated area—so patients can expect up to a quarter of their fat to dissipate. (Of course, for this to occur, patients are expected to maintain a healthy diet and regular movement, so some critics of the procedure say that the body contouring is more so a result of the new routine than the treatment itself.)
What’s also worth mentioning is that the CoolMini treatment exists as well. Rather than working on all areas of the body, it’s designed specifically for the double-chin concerns. “The presence of submental fullness in the jowl is a common concern that affects both women and men,” Green says. “In the past, the only way to permanently enhance the jowl was through surgical procedures such as liposuction or a neck lift which required anesthesia, incisions, and lengthy recovery periods. CoolMini® is a non-surgical option that makes it possible to reduce submental fat and tighten the skin under the jowls without any downtime.”
Since CoolSculpting uses extreme temperatures, some patients prefer something that’s less sensory (not that CoolSculpting feels particularly terrible). In those instances, Green recommends Kybella, an injectable that works to melt away fat cells.
“A few treatments of Kybella can help trim down the double chin and effectively reduce the appearance of a turkey neck, giving a more defined jawline and profile,” she says. “The active ingredient in this injectable is deoxycholic acid which is a naturally-occurring substance that permanently destroys fat cells.” Just keep in mind that it typically requires three to four 15 to 30-minute treatments for full results.