Knifeless Techniques for a Rejuvenated FaceJan 01, 2023 06:00AM ● By Susan Gonzalez
Photo: Susan Gonzalez
Time changes everything, and your skin is no exception. The collagen and elastin that plump and firm skin during youth surrender to the aging process while the reduction of hormones leads to slower cell turnover, visible wrinkling and sagging. Plastic surgery yields the most dramatic transformations, but the cost and risks are high.
Luckily, there are many safe and effective natural treatments that can help refresh the facial structure to achieve that desired look with low risk and great results.
Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation (laser) is a powerfully focused beam of light that causes a transfer of energy from light to heat. The heat causes cell destruction and injury. The body responds to this injury by tightening and firming that area and stimulating the formation of collagen. Collagen is the substance under the skin’s surface that acts as filler to retain plumpness and a youthful look. Technicians must be highly skilled and licensed to operate most laser equipment. There are many types of lasers and each one acts differently on the skin:
CO2 Ablative: Used primarily for deep wrinkles and texture, this type of laser is the harshest and most destructive to skin cells, but it can produce the most dramatic results. “Ablative” means that all the skin cells at a certain level or area are targeted for destruction. This laser basically destroys the outer layers of skin and heats up those under the surface, so that in healing, the skin is tightened and renewed. Some people see a 90 percent reduction in their wrinkles, and results can last for ten years. Local or general anesthesia can be used. Downtime is 10 to 14 days; the skin will be so red and raw that you shouldn’t—and won’t want to—go outside. Risks include infection, scarring, burns, discoloration of the treated area and redness that can persist up 12 months. The cost can vary from $3,000 to $5,000 or more. Done once, this procedure is performed by a medical doctor or plastic surgeon.
CO2 fractionated: Similar to CO2 ablative, this type of laser uses selective columns of light instead of a blanket destruction. The method is the same, but because less of the skin is targeted, there is a less dramatic result and less downtime. Fractionated lasers can be customized for various recovery lengths, comfort and final results. Several treatments can be done for desired results. Costs are lower than ablative but vary depending on the area treated and level of intensity.
Halo: The Halo laser combines both ablative with fractionated laser techniques producing better results with only a day or two of downtime. A medical esthetician can perform this type of laser, and the costs are much lower—running from $500 to $1,500 on average. The Halo laser can target fine lines, dark spots, scars and large pores, and results can last for years. Anesthesia is not necessary.
BBL: BroadBand Laser is the easiest and most cost-effective laser treatment for facial rejuvenation, eliminating dark spots and redness. With virtually no downtime, activities can be resumed the same day. Some of the effects, such as fading dark spots, can last several years. Prices range from $200 to $500 per session. Several sessions are usually recommended. Intense Pulsed Laser (IPL) is very similar to BBL, but BBL is proving to be more effective.
Caution! Darker skin reacts to lasers very differently than less-pigmented skin, and many methods cannot be performed on darker skin tones. The best options for wrinkles and dark spots or scars on darker skin is the Nd:YAG laser, which is similar to IPL, Halo, and Pico laser, which is also used for tattoo removal. A highly skilled laser technician is needed to customize the settings so there are no unwanted side effects.
Microneedling (Collagen Induction Therapy)
Microneedling stimulates collagen formation under the skin to erase fine lines and wrinkles, help reduce scarring and rejuvenate skin. It works on all skin tones. The microneedling pen contains dozens of needles that move up and down, and as it is worked across the face, it causes tiny micro damages that activate collagen in response. The skin is numbed before the session so it’s painless, and the whole process takes about an hour. Skin is mostly back to normal in three to five days, and results are seen over several months, improving over time.
PRP microneedling, short for Platelet Rich Plasma, is also called the “vampire facial.” It uses a blood sample taken before the procedure to extract blood platelets that will be applied to the skin. The needles pass over it, pushing the extracted platelets into the skin, creating a better environment for healing and collagen formation.
Costs for microneedling can range from $175 to $900 per session.
Note: Handheld needle rollers that roll across the skin and are available online are not microneedling tools! Nonprofessional needle rollers are not recommended, as they are ineffective and can cause infection and injury to the surface of the skin.
Micro-focused ultrasound therapy
Ultrasound technology has been used for decades in healthcare to visualize soft tissue inside the body. That same technology can be used to heat up certain layers of the skin, causing cell death and a tightening effect. One kind of ultrasound therapy, Ultherapy, targets the sagging skin of the jaw, chin and neck. Since it only uses sound waves, the method is safe and effective with a 72 to 77 percent reduction in wrinkles and sagging lower face. It’s relatively painless and prices range from $500 to $5,000, depending on the areas treated. It works on all skin tones.
Radiofrequency (RF) therapy is similar to ultrasound, except that it uses radio waves. Small areas of the face, such as the eyes and the mouth, can be treated. Multiple treatments are needed for results, the look of the skin improves over time, and it’s safe on all skin tones.
Microcurrent stimulates the muscles of the skin and face with small amounts of electricity which, over time, lift and sculpt the facial structure. A consistent routine should be performed for best results. Handheld home devices, such as Ziip or Nuface, can be very effective when used on a regular basis. Home microcurrent should be done five days a week for the first 60 days and then reduced to three times a week for maintenance. Home devices range from $150 to $600, and professional services average around $350 per session. Results are seen over time; microcurrent works on all skin tones.
LED light therapy
Light Emitting Diode (LED) therapy uses certain powerful wavelengths of colored light, each color targeting a different aspect of the skin. Red light stimulates collagen production, and blue light controls oil production and kills acne-causing bacteria. Infrared light helps with cell metabolism and reduces swelling. The method is painless, safe and effective for all skin tones, and the look of the skin improves over time. Treatment costs vary from $75 to $200. Home LED devices vary widely in strength and effectiveness—so buyer beware.
There are many other nonsurgical facial treatments, such as facial acupuncture, Sculptural Facial Lift technique and facial cupping that may help as well. Consistent at-home techniques such as gua sha, self-facial massage and face yoga can also be very effective. There are dozens of resources on social media that can walk you through sessions. Like any kind of exercise, regular and persistent practice yields the best results.
Facial rejuvenation doesn’t have to be painful or risky. Every day, more techniques are being discovered and created to offer options for those wanting a more natural approach to achieving the look they desire to feel more comfortable in their own skin. ❧
Susan Gonzalez is a holistic licensed esthetician, author, nurse and owner of MOON Organics, a skincare company providing clean, healthy skincare and personal care products. Reach her on FB, IG and TW: @MoonOrganics or visit MoonOrganics.com.