Years ago, people who wanted to kiss their facial wrinkles goodbye did so surgically, with a facelift, spending thousands of dollars and possibly several weeks recovering. Today, however, people wishing to change their appearance have additional options, which can be done in a doctor's office rather than an operating room, with little or no anesthesia. Here is a rundown of some of the nonsurgical cosmetic procedures and what they entail.
Note: In some cases, more than one treatment session is required to achieve the desired result. Side effects are generally temporary and the risks and recovery times may vary. Your doctor can give you an estimated recovery time that is specific for you. Cosmetic procedures that are not due to a medical condition are generally not covered by insurance.
- Description —A chemical solution is applied to the skin to remove the wrinkled top layer, so that a healthier layer can take its place. You are awake during the procedure. It is used to treat skin that is damaged by the sun, uneven color, and fine wrinkles. Depending on the extent of the damage being treated, different chemical solutions may be used.
- Side effects—temporary tingling, burning, swelling, redness, flaking, minor pain, and increased sensitivity, especially to the sun
- Potential risks—infection, scarring, fever blisters, cold sores, sun sensitivity, pigmentation irregularity
- Recovery time—immediate to up to two weeks, depending on the strength of the chemical solution used (You may require several treatments.)
Having a chemical peel can make your skin more sensitive to the sun. Always wear sunblock and avoid direct sunlight during the hottest times of day.
- Description—Microdermabrasion is a form of gentle abrasion or scraping in which the outer layer of the skin is exfoliated with an instrument that blasts tiny aluminum oxide particles against the skin to smooth out lines, wrinkles, and acne scars. You are generally awake during the procedure. The doctor may apply a local anesthetic to the area being treated. Treatments take between 30 minutes and an hour, and you may need 5-12 treatments.
- Side effects—redness, swelling, discomfort in the treated area, itchiness as new skin grows back
- Potential risks—temporary swelling, increased skin sensitivity, sun sensitivity
- Recovery time—immediate
- Description—The Botulinum toxin is injected into facial muscles to temporarily paralyze them, thereby reducing the appearance of lines and wrinkles. You are awake during the procedure, which is generally painless. Although, you may feel a slight burning sensation on injection. Effects are temporary and typically last about 3-4 months.
- Side effects—redness
- Potential risks—allergic reaction, bruising, numbness, swelling, headache, temporary nerve damage, chance of infection
- Recovery time—immediate
Last reviewedAugust 2012by Brian Randall, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.