Anti-aging boom: even modest changes can revitalize, rejuvenate

December 1, 2006

Well-chosen procedures can help improve issues that make our faces look older. Brown spot, rough texture, fine lines, thinning lips and nasolabial folds are all aging culprits that don't take a lot of money to fix.

Key Points

Every day, every cell in your body is engaged in a process known as aging.

"Although sooner or later most of us are faced with the conscious and even subconscious realization that we're not looking like we used to," Dr. Fried says, "I've found that even modest changes can make people feel happier and better about their appearance. The good news is you don't need extreme makeovers to have a dramatic improvement in the way you feel about your appearance."

If your brown spots (hyperpigmentation) remind you of Grandma, he suggests speaking to your dermatologist about products such as Tri-Luma, Lustra, Epiquin, Retina-A Micro and Tazorac. Certain lasers such as the Nd:Yag and the intense pulsed light (IPL) laser can also be effective at lightening brown spots - and they generally work faster than creams and lotions.

Rough skin texture, fine lines and brown spots respond well to topical treatments with products such as Retin-A, Renova, Tazorac, alpha and beta hydroxy acids, glycolic acid, and stabilized Vitamin C, such as that found in Active C Cream. The Obaji Nu-Derm System is a physician-prescribed skincare system that accelerates cellular turnover. Estée Lauder's Advanced Night Repair Concentrate Recovery Boosting Treatment can be purchased over-the-counter.

Microdermabrasion treatments and chemical peels can also do wonders to reduce the appearance of fine lines and rough texture. There is also a large spectrum of peels from which to choose - from very gentle glycolic peels to TCA or phenol peels that can leave your skin looking very red for weeks.

PUCKER UP "Restoring lips to a plumper, fuller appearance can also do wonders for the face and is a very easy procedure," Dr. Fried says.

He recommends not wasting time or money with store-bought topicals that don't do much except irritate the lips for a temporary fullness. For lasting improvement, injections of a filler called Restylane - which lasts about three to four months in the lips - is an excellent choice. And, for those annoying lines that run from your nose to the corners of your mouth, consider injections of Restylane which can last for up to four to six months.

A new filler to look for soon is Radiesse, which lasts at least a year and works as both a filler and a stimulator. This means it restores volume and also stimulates the production of collagen. It is currently pending U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval.

If broken blood vessels make your complexion look red or blotchy, ask your dermatologist about eliminating them with the use of the pulsed dye laser, the Nd:YAG laser or intense pulsed light. These lasers are very effective in removing visible blood vessels with very little chance of scarring.

"The bottom line," Dr. Fried says, "is that, if what you're seeing in the mirror doesn't please you, you don't have to jump to the conclusion that you need a radical facelift to look better. You'd be surprised at how much satisfaction can be gained from doing smaller procedures. This is clearly a case of less equaling more."