Cosmetic Surgery Lowdown
By Wendy Schmid
Photo Credit: Edwin Ho
Scientists have invented a miracle product that prevents premature sunspots, moles, and wrinkles. It's called sunscreen. If you've missed out on it for most of your life, however, new laser treatments help to erase some of the skin damage you've probably incurred, giving you fewer moles and spots to keep vigilant watch over. The new lasers designed to tighten skin and fade sunspots require less downtime and cause fewer complications than older ones, says New Jersey laser expert Mitchell Chasin, M.D. For diminishing more severe sun damage, peels and fillers are still popular. These options only manage aesthetics, though; sunscreen is still a far better weapon than a laser when it comes to your health (and, of course, it's seriously cheaper).
LOOSE SKIN, SUNSPOTS
TREATMENT: Laser skin resurfacing.
DESIGNED FOR: Erasing small moles and sunspots as well as wrinkles from sun exposure.
HOW IT WORKS: The two newest lasers Titan and Fraxel both use infrared light to penetrate the skin. Titan goes deeper and stimulates collagen production, which tightens skin over time. Fraxel creates tiny wounds in the upper layer of the skin. As the skin repairs itself, sunspots and moles fade while texture, firmness, and tone improve.
DOWNTIME: Two days of redness and possible flaking with Fraxel. About six hours of redness with Titan.
PROS: Your skin will gradually look renewed without long-lasting redness- or pain.
CONS: It takes four to six weeks to see results, and they aren't as dramatic as what you see with older lasers. You need about three to five treatments with each.
COST: Titan, about $1500 to $2500 per treatment; Fraxel, about $1200 to $1500 per treatment. Results should last years, but docs recommend an annual touch-up.
STAVE OFF SURGERY WITH: Murad Age Spot & Pigment Lightening Gel, $55.