Years ago, people who wanted to kiss their facial wrinkles goodbye did so by spending thousands of dollars and several weeks recovering from a surgical facelift. Today, however, people who want to change the way they look have additional options. Procedures can be done in a doctor's office with little or no anesthesia rather than in an operating room. Here is a rundown of some of the nonsurgical cosmetic procedures. Cosmetic procedures that are not due to a medical condition are generally not covered by insurance.
Note: In some cases, more than one treatment session is needed to achieve the desired result. Side effects are generally temporary and the risks and recovery times vary. Talk to your doctor about how long it might take you to recover.
- Description —A chemical solution is applied to the skin to remove the wrinkled top layer. This allows a healthier layer to 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, blisters, sores, changes in skin color
- Recovery time—immediate to up to two weeks, depending on the strength of the chemical solution used (You may require several treatments.)
Since 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 the day.
- Description—Microdermabrasion is a form of gentle abrasion or scraping of the outer layer of the skin. An instrument is used to blast tiny particles against the skin to smooth out lines, wrinkles, and acne scars. You are 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. This reduces 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 last 3-4 months.
- Side effects—redness
- Potential risks—allergic reaction, bruising, numbness, swelling, headache, temporary nerve damage, chance of infection
- Recovery time—immediate
Last reviewedJuly 2014by Michael Woods, 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.