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Elastin fibres keep skin firm and taut, but they weaken over time, leading to loose, sagging skin. While sun exposure and smoking are contributors, genes are also to blame. Two new procedures can tighten your skin from head to toe.
•Best for...FACE AND BODY: Thermage.
Used only for the face initially, Thermage (a device that uses radio frequency waves) can now be applied anywhere on the body to combat concerns like batwing arms and post-baby tummies. "It won't give you the effects of a tummy tuck, but it does work to tighten sagging skin by firming collagen fibres and causing new collagen cells to form," says Weksberg. At up to $5,000 per session, the treatment can be pricey, but results last longer than a year and show improvement up to six months after treatment.
•Best for...FACE, NECK AND CHEST: ReFirme.
Like Thermage, this new treatment tightens slackened skin, but it uses both infrared light and radio frequency waves. "It heats the dermis so that the collagen crunches up, resulting in tighter skin," says Dr. Vera Madison, a physician in Toronto. Although any body part can be treated, it works best on upper body zones, such as the chin, chest and nasolabial folds. Most patients require five to eight sessions ($450 to $650 each) and can immediately return to their regular activities post-treatment. Results can last up to two years.
Increasingly, dermatologists are doubling up on treatments for better results. Weksberg uses a combination of Botox, lasers and injectable fillers, while Carruthers says that using Botox and fillers together with cosmetic surgery (such as a facelift) can mean fewer visits to the dermatologist's office for touch-ups. "Not only does it enhance results, but the hyaluronic acid fillers can last up to eight months [instead of the usual four to six months] because the muscles are relaxed and not rubbing against the fillers in your daily facial gestures and speech."
We all strive for complexion perfection, but acne scars, birthmarks and overall dullness can leave us reaching for heavy makeup to cover up. The newest resurfacing technologies bring smooth, radiant skin within reach.
•Best for...DULL, ROUGH SKIN: Plasma therapy.
Known as Portrait skin rejuvenation, this new resurfacing tool brightens and smooths skin, improving texture and tone. The device sends plasma energy (a form of magnetized glass) through the dermis without direct contact with the skin. The epidermis is left intact and acts as a bandage, while the skin beneath regenerates and produces new collagen and elastin. Although there is some downtime (about one week), only one 45- to 60-minute session (about $3,000) is needed to treat areas like the face, neck, chest and hands. There's visible improvement for the next six to nine months as more collagen is generated.
•Best for...SCARRING: Fraxel laser resurfacing.
Are you suffering from surface scars or deep, pock-marked acne scarring? In the past, these skin concerns were treated with carbon dioxide lasers, which removed the entire upper layer of the skin; though they were effective, they required weeks of recovery time. Now, the Fraxel laser can achieve similar results without the lengthy downtime. "The beams extend from the surface of the skin down to the dermis, stimulating new collagen formation and allowing a new, smooth epidermis to form," says Weksberg. Five or six treatments (ranging from $200 to $1,500 each, depending on the area being treated) are usually needed, and redness and swelling can last anywhere from one day to one week, depending on the strength of the treatment. Results are permanent, unless you experience more acne, hormonal changes or sun exposure.
•Best for...AGE SPOTS AND PIGMENTATION: Erbium laser.
This treatment uses infrared light to target water in the skin; the skin cells soak up the water, which allows them to be removed without absorbing a great deal of heat. While only one treatment (from $900 to $2,500) is necessary, you'll have about a week of downtime. Again, results are usually permanent, unless you experience more acne, hormonal changes or sun exposure post-treatment.