Treating wrinkles of the skin
Anti-wrinkle treatments come in a variety of forms, including everything from laser resurfacing and surgery to topical creams and collagen injections. The treatment that's right for you will vary, depending on the location of your wrinkles, their severity and your expectations.
The Cost of Facial Wrinkle Treatments
The price you'll pay to reduce or remove your wrinkles depends on the technique you use to treat them. Anti-wrinkle creams typically cost $50 to $100 per jar; you'll need to use them continually to maintain results, which you should expect to be modest.
Medical interventions, such as a facelift or laser and radiofrequency treatments, can cost several thousand dollars, as can a deep chemical peel. Budget-conscious patients are advised to try moderately priced strategies, including dermabrasion and microdermabrasion, before resorting to surgery.
Injectable compounds, such as Botox and collagen, are priced per injection, usually in the range of $200 to $400. You'll need injections every six months or so to make sure your face retains its youthful vigor.
Your doctor will use several factors to determine which wrinkle treatment is right for you. He or she will consider:
- Your age and relative health
- Your medical history
- Any known allergies you have
- The depth of your wrinkles
- The location of the wrinkles you want to treat
- Your expectations
Regardless of the results of your patient evaluation, you'll have more than one alternative available to you; you should discuss the advantages, disadvantages, risks and side effects of each of them in detail to help you make an informed decision.
An Overview of Wrinkle Treatment Procedures
Broadly speaking, wrinkle treatments can be broken down into three categories:
- Chemical-based wrinkle treatments. These treatments include both injectable compounds, such as Artecoll and Juvederm, as well as the chemical peel. A chemical peel uses corrosive compounds which are introduced to the skin; they then literally eat away the outer layers of the skin, revealing the youthful-looking, new skin underneath.
- Radiofrequency, light source and laser treatments. These are noninvasive alternatives to surgery, and make use of radio waves, light waves and heat to stimulate your skin and zap away wrinkles. They include ablative laser systems which destroy the outer epidermis as well as gentler pulsed light and radio-based treatments that do not damage your skin's outer layer, but tighten them instead. Thermage is an example of a noninvasive treatment that uses heat to stimulate your body's natural production of collagen.
- Surgical treatments. A facelift is the longest-lasting treatment, with results remaining visible for 5 to 10 years, but it is also the most invasive, the most expensive and carries the most risk.
Risks Associated with Wrinkle Treatments
The risks depend on the technique you choose to treat your wrinkles. For chemical-based wrinkle treatments, the risks include allergic reactions to the compounds used, infection at the injection site and misplacement of the injection; the latter two risks should not be a problem if you rely on an experienced doctor to administer treatment. Chemical peels can be painful and cause permanent changes in skin pigmentation.
Skin irritation, bruising, swelling, bleeding, scarring and possible infection are the most common side effects of radiofrequency, light source and laser treatments. Surgery carries the greatest risk, including scarring, swelling, bleeding, delayed healing, infection, reactions to the anesthetic and unsatisfactory results.
Recovery from Anti-Wrinkle Treatments
Your down time will be minimal if you use chemical injections to treat your wrinkles; chemical peels take longer to heal. You may need to keep your face protected with a dressing or ointment if you get a chemical peel, and patients who get deep chemical peels typically require extra sun protection for the rest of their lives. Laser, light source and radiofrequency treatments also typically require only modest recovery times.
Recovering from facelift surgery takes the longest. You'll have to clean your surgical wounds several times a day, monitor the site for any abnormal side effects and wait for the bruising and swelling to subside. It can take several months before the final results settle in.