Level 3: Advanced
Unless you’re living in an antigravity chamber, you’ll eventually see a few signs of aging that don’t respond to topical treatments alone. “Then professional treatments can give you more dramatic results,” says Alster. Here are some you might consider.
Best for: Sun damage, brown spots, fine lines, and a dull and leathery texture.
How they work: A combination of acids—lactic, glycolic, retinoic, salicylic, or the stronger trichlorocytic (TCA), depending on the severity of your problem—is applied to the skin to dissolve the top layers. Light peels feel like lots of little pinpricks, while stronger ones can be painful. Sometimes your dermatologist will apply a numbing cream first, and she may use a fan to cool your face and relieve the sting. A mild peel incurs one to three days of redness and a little flaking; a deeper one can require a week of recovery time. Doctors usually recommend a series of three, one per month. Prices start at $100.
Best for: Fine lines and wrinkles, sagging skin, and hollows under the eyes.
How they work: Injectables come in two forms: fillers and neuromodulators. Fillers, like Radiesse, Restylane, and Juvéderm, are gels or liquids that are injected into the deep layers of the skin to add volume, which we lose as we age. “And research shows that fillers may also spur collagen production,” says Marmur, so you may need less with each treatment. You might feel throbbing when the filler is injected. The results last for six months to two years. Cost: $350 to $1,600 a treatment. Neuromodulators, like Botox and Dysport, work on nerves to relax crease-causing muscles (for example, between the brows and on the forehead). “Done properly, they can also lift the brows and soften a sagging neck,” says Brandt. The cost is on par with fillers, and the results last as long.
Best for: Fine lines, sagging, sun damage, rough texture, and uneven tone.
How they work: Tiny laser beams exfoliate the top layers of skin and create microscopic holes, triggering collagen production, says Shamban. You can choose to target a single area, such as around the eyes, or treat your entire face (and even your neck and chest). You’ll get a numbing cream first, but the procedure will hurt (a pre-session dose of pain reliever might help). Expect about four days for recovery time. A series of three treatments is recommended. Each one costs $750 to $1,500.