Wrinkle Remedies

What really works and what really doesn't

Plenty of women pass on plastic surgery. And for good reason. It’s expensive—for the same price you could spend two weeks sipping rum drinks on a tropical island. It’s invasive—painkillers and icepacks become your new BFF. And we’ve all seen the photographs of celebrities whose procedures went horribly wrong. (You know who you are, Tara Reid.) But then there are times–like when your email buddy from Match.com wants a meet-up, or you find an invitation to your high school reunion in the mail—when you start to wonder if you might need a little renovation and renewal, more than just the usual anti-aging tips. Here’s the skinny on what non-surgical options are out there, what they cost and whether they're worth it.

Oh What A Peeling
Remember when your skin was young and soft and glowing? Those were the days! Exfoliants work by removing the outer-most layers of skin, which, when it hangs around, is rougher and can make your face look dull. Manual exfoliants (scrubs) physically smooth the superficial layers of skin. They’re cheap, too! You can buy an exfoliant in the drugstore. You get what you pay for: You’ll look, uh, scrubbed, but that can be nice. Alpha Hydrox Enhanced Cream 10% Glycolic AHA gets the job done and it will only set you back $11.

Chemical exfoliants contain acids, such as alpha-hydroxy, beta-hydroxy acid or tricholoracetic acid, can be applied by your doctor or aesthetician in concentrations high enough to penetrate into deeper layers and give you a deeper peel. The verdict: Peels can reduce the appearance of wrinkles but chemical peels are harsh and they can leave you looking, at least initially, like a skinned tomato. It can take weeks to recover. The cost: $500 to $3,000, depending on the type of peel.

Laser resurfacing treatments work the same way peels do—removing the top layers of skin. There are many types of laser treatments, from quick lunchtime treatments that can address very fine lines, to intense treatments that can remove deep winkles but require several weeks of healing time. The costs vary from $500 to $3000. “In my experience, laser resurfacing is safer and more predictable than chemical peels,” says Dr. Richard Eisen, dermatologist and founder of Massachusetts South Shore Skin Center. “Particularly for deeper wrinkles, lasers are the gold standard.”

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