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Wanting to look young is not exactly a new idea -- the search for the fountain of youth has been going on for centuries. And while this past year didn’t deliver the perfect elixir, the year did introduce some scientifically solid, significant advances in anti-aging skin care. To home in on what can truly make a difference in your skin, WebMD asked medical experts to evaluate the cream of the crop.
The antiaging breakthrough of the decade, according to many doctors, is a skin-resurfacing treatment known as CO2 fractional laser therapy. Combining the effectiveness of traditional carbon dioxide lasers -- long thought to be the gold standard in wrinkle removal -- with a new application technique, it delivers powerful results without the traditionally harsh side effects.
"Essentially, you are getting all the benefits of laser resurfacing, still the best way to remove wrinkles, but you’re getting it without the downtime and without the horrendous complication rate," says David Goldberg, MD, director of Skin Laser and Surgery Specialists of New York and New Jersey and clinical professor of dermatology at the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York City.
How does it work? The natural aging process, combined with exposure to sun and pollution, destroys collagen -- the main protein of connective tissue that keeps skin plump and line-free.Laser resurfacing uses beamlets of energy light to bore tiny holes in the skin, which works to put the body’s natural collagen production on fast-forward. Here’s what’s new: Fractional CO2 laser resurfacing does this in a way that prevents damage to the top layer of skin, offering maximum results with minimal recovery time.
While laser resurfacing doesn’t come cheap -- the procedure will cost you about $5,000 (Check out the BARELaser Fractional CO2 Specials for as low as $695)-- it is quick, accomplished in one or two sessions, with about four days downtime. Goldberg says effects are thought to last eight to 10 years. According to the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, patients with darker complexions may be at risk for pigmentation loss with any laser surgery. Common minor side effects for fractional laser resurfacing include redness and swelling that lasts about two days.
Wrinkle injection technology soared to new heights last year when the FDA approved four fillers: Perlane, Juvéderm, Voluma, Artifill, and Radiesse. Along with Restylane, approved in 2003, each uses a slightly different substance to fill wrinkles.
But according to Rhoda Narins, MD, professor of dermatology at NYU Medical Center in New York City, that’s just the beginning. "What’s really significant is that we can now use these fillers to volumize skin anywhere on the face, so you can really sculpt a lifted, youthful look without surgery," she says. Dermatologist Bruce Katz, MD, the director of Juva Skin and Laser Center in New York City, agrees. "Unlike a face-lift, which pulls the skin taut and tight, volumizing plumps up the skin so the look is youthful but more natural," he says.
In even more good news about wrinkle injections, studies conducted by Frank Wang, MD, at the University of Michigan Medical School found that those containing hyaluronic acid (such as Restylane and Juvéderm) led to "robust collagen production" while also interfering with collagen breakdown. So not only do you get a filling effect, says Narins, but you also have an actual increase in natural collagen production.
Still, Narins says all currently approved wrinkle injections have been used in Europe for several years, and the track record on safety is generally good. Most often, side effects are mild, usually limited to redness or swelling at the site of injection, she adds.
The cost of wrinkle-filling volumizers is between $600 and $1,000 per syringe.
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