Bizarre Anti-Aging Treatments Around the World

Cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Fredric Brandt investigates the fat-melting, face-plumping beauty technologies so new, they aren't even available stateside... yet.

model with tray of plastic surgery tools
(Image credit: Liz Von Hoene)


Country: Japan

Details: LipoSonix targets subcutaneous fat with a high-frequency ultrasound, literally melting unwanted lumps by breaking them down into fatty acids that are processed and expelled through the liver and kidneys (then banished for good when you pee). The energy waves might cause uncomfortable tingling or warmth in the deep layers of tissue where fat is concentrated, but Japanese doctors claim a single treatment, which takes 30 to 60 minutes, can help you drop a full dress size, or 2.8 centimeters in waist circumference. (On the other side of the spectrum, Zeltiq, the FDA-approved fat-freezing technique, eliminates fat by crystallizing it, as opposed to warming it.)

Best for: Someone in good overall shape looking to shed love handles or excess fat in the stomach or back: It's a targeted approach to problem areas, not a general weight-loss plan. The major advantage over traditional liposuction? LipoSonix is noninvasive.

ETA in the U.S.: In the next 18 months, pending FDA approval.

Price in Japan: $2,500 to $4,000, depending on the body area treated.

model with one gloved hand and a medical needle in the other

(Image credit: Liz Von Hoene)


Country: France

Details: In Europe, patients swear this French hyaluronic acid filler outperforms FDA-approved options like Juvederm Voluma in terms of longevity, sculpting, and lifting capacity. Teosyal is versatile, available in six different viscosities to add volume and lift where it's needed. Treatments take five minutes to an hour.

Best for: A broad range of needs, from fine lines around the mouth to more intense restructuring. It's especially good for areas like the chin or jawbone, which lose definition with age and might otherwise require more intense intervention like a face-lift or implant. Unexpected bonus: A firmed-up jawline will lift and smooth out neck wrinkles, too.

ETA in the U.S.: Early 2013 (Teosyal has not been submitted for FDA approval; clinical trials are ongoing).

Price in France: $500 for superficial or mid-depth lines to $5,000 for restructuring face or cheeks.

model with oxygen tank holding up an oxygen mask

(Image credit: Liz Von Hoene)


Country: Denmark

Details: Unlike Artefill or silicone, Aquamid, a volumizing filler, doesn't elicit an inflammatory response, meaning your body won't fight it — the liquid formula doesn't contain the chemical microparticles or microspheres that can, in rare cases, cause a lumpy, red reaction. A liquid made of 97.5 percent water and a polyacrylamide gel — made from the same compound used in contact lenses — Aquamid is also more easily drained than either Artefill or silicone in case of under-skin infections. Treatments take 15 to 20 minutes.

Best for: Anyone dealing with age- or weight-loss-induced hollowness in the face or cheeks. Since the risk of inflammation is so low, doctors can inject more material in fewer treatments than they can with other fillers. And because Aquamid is permanent, it's also recommended for those looking to avoid pricey reinjections.

ETA in the U.S.: Within the next year, pending FDA approval.

Price in Denmark: $2,000 to $2,500.

model holding breast implant

(Image credit: Liz Von Hoene)


Country: Germany

Details: An unusually elastic and pliant hyaluronic acid filler, Belotero's claim to fame is its "monophasic polydensified cohesive" technology. Translation? It's a light, smooth gel, great for making subtle fixes, like erasing shallow facial lines, in a way that looks natural and even. Doctors love it because it's malleable when injected close to the skin's surface, meaning it won't form unsightly bumps or collect in a pool. Treatments take 10 to 20 minutes.

Best for: Nervous Nellies. Since it goes in quickly and smoothly, Belotero is perfect for filler newbies.

ETA in the U.S.: Within the next few months, pending FDA approval.

Price in Germany: $500 and up.

plastic surgery

(Image credit: Liz Von Hoene)


Country: France

Details: Using tiny 32-gauge needles or a mesotherapy "gun," French doctors inject a cocktail of beneficial substances into the very top layer of the dermis to stimulate fibroblasts, the wound-healing cells that produce collagen. Treatments include vitamins A, to turn over skin cells; B, to scavenge free radicals; C, to promote collagen and inhibit melanin (slowing pigmentation); E, an antioxidant; and K, which affects microcirculation. Hyaluronic acid and sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium also increase collagen and elastin production, improving the texture, brightness, and moisture of the face, neck, and hands. Budget 30 minutes if you opt for the needles or 15 for the gun, a handheld injection device that stabilizes the skin and dispenses consistent doses.

Best for: 20- and 30-somethings looking to ward off early signs of aging; older patients already using Botox and/or fillers can get mesotherapy as an adjunct treatment.

ETA in the U.S.: Within five years (mesotherapy has not been submitted for FDA approval). Be wary of these treatments offered by nonmedical clinics, where there's no telling what's in your vitamin cocktail.

Price in France: $300 to $1,000, depending on the area treated.

model holding surgical needle against leg

(Image credit: Liz Von Hoene)


Country: Brazil

Details: South Americans seeking a Kardashian-esque posterior are injecting polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) — a form of the acrylic plastic used in Plexiglas — into their butts. Treatment takes about half an hour and recontours the buttocks to create a fuller, more round shape.

Best for: Anyone looking to add curves without the scars and expense of surgery. (Butt implants cost a comparatively high $5,000 to $10,000.)

ETA in the U.S.: Probably never. The procedure hasn't been submitted for FDA approval, which would be unlikely anyway, thanks to potential complications like migration, infection, or embolization (where the PMMA enters the blood vessels).

Price in Brazil: $1,000 to $3,000.