Intense Pulse Light (IPL) improves the overall texture of the skin while visibly reducing fine lines. Wavelengths of light are directed into the skin's dermis (the lower layer). The light from the laser breaks up melanin deposits from sun damage and minimizes red spots from broken capillaries. It also slightly ‘injures" and subsequently repairs existing collagen, thereby reducing fine lines. To boost these benefits, dermatologists have recently added the use of Levulan, a topical product that aids IPL, to the procedure. "Levulan increases the photosensitivity of the skin, therefore the light is able to target the damaged tissues more effectively. The results are equal to five regular IPL treatments," says Dr. Sheetal Sapra, cosmetic dermatologist with the Institute of Cosmetic & Laser Surgery (www.icls.ca) in Oakville, Ont.
Cost: From $800 to $1,200 a treatment.
Maintenance: Begin with a series of three treatments and then just one a year.
Downtime: Very little -- but avoid the sun for at least 48 hours.
Drawback: Can cause a sunburn type of reaction. Only works on lighter skin colours because darker skin has more melanin and the result would be patchy pigmentation.
ThermaLift (a.k.a. ThermaCool and/or Thermage) uses radio frequency energy to regenerate collagen in the skin's deepest layer. The dermis is heated as a result of this energy, causing it to contract and tighten. A cooling agent is used during the procedure to protect the surface layer of the skin from burning. "Because there is heat in the tissue, collagen rejuvenation is stimulated," says Dr. Joanna Day (www.daymd.com), a Vancouver-based dermatologist specializing in aesthetic dermatology. "The procedure tightens collagen, thereby improving definition of the jowls, jawline, neck, and brow."
Cost: From $1,700 for half a face to $5,500 for a full face
Maintenance: The results should last 18 months to two years
Downtime: Half a day. Results can be seen within a week, but final results can take between two and six months
Drawback: Can be painful because the radio frequency penetrates deeply.The Thread Lift (a.k.a. Featherlift) lifts drooping skin above the eyes, cheeks and jowls. After applying a local anaesthetic, the physician uses a needle to insert individual threads with knot-like barbs into the subcutaneous tissues of the skin. The thread grabs on to these tissues and tightens them to lift the skin for a more youthful appearance. "This procedure is very effective, but it only yields subtle results [taking about three to four years off the face]. If you want more dramatic results, go for the traditional facelift [which can erase 10 years]," advices Sapra. The results can be reversed, and patients can go back to have the threads adjusted.
Cost: From $3,500 for half a face to $6,000 for a full face
Maintenance: Benefits can last up to 10 years
Downtime: About five days in order for the threads to properly adhere to the tissue. There are no stitches and no scarring
Drawback: Some patients have reported infections due to the threads
ELOS (Electro-Optical Synergy) ELOS technology combines radio frequency energy with light energy. "It causes a thermal injury [like Thermage] in the skin's lower layer dermis, which remolds collagen so it's more compact and the skin will tighten and lift," says Dr. Nowell Solish, medical director of cosmetic dermatology at Espada (www.espada.ca), a new medical spa in Toronto. The combination of the collagen-stimulating light and skin-tightening radio frequency helps achieve more youthful-looking skin.
Cost: Single treatment is $450, and a package of three is $1,200
Maintenance: Start with a series of three treatments and then just one a year to maintain
Downtime: Usually one day
Drawback: Most patients do experience discomfort