By Dr. Dominique Laatz MSc. (German Dental & Dermatology Center, Doha, Qatar)
As the years pass by, the human body undergoes some substantial, age-related changes. One of the cosmetically unwanted changes is the continuous loss of subcutaneous fat in the facial area. Other unwanted signs such as fine lines and skin discolorations derive from the accumulated effects of chronic, long-term sun exposure. Nutritional science reports anti-aging benefits from keeping proper body hydration and having a balanced and healthy diet. While natural ways and good lifestyle habits are always a great fundament to address preemptive aging, they will not significantly alter most of the physical signs. Since the most visible signs of aging will show on the skin, a proper skincare protocol and professional skin treatments can help to slow down the process effectively.
Cosmetic dermatology identified several minimally invasive, nonsurgical procedures to help to reverse or milden some of these cosmetic issues. Listed below are the 4 best nonsurgical anti-aging skin treatments for a refreshed and rejuvenated beauty!
1. Laser Skin Resurfacing and Rejuvenation
All Laser applications are based on energized light, which is being used either in an ablative or non-ablative mode. With the ablative mode, laser can resurface your skin by removing the older outer layers through vaporization. This is commonly referred to as “laser skin resurfacing” or “Fraxel”, a name derived from the pioneering device. Non-ablative functions, like the popular carbon laser peel or others, are less invasive since skin isn’t as deeply penetrated. This leads to shorter downtimes but isn’t effective when it comes to resurfacing the facial skin.
Here are the reasons for laser anti-aging skin treatments:
- No need for pain medication after treatment.
- Boosts fresh collagen production for plump, refreshed, and rejuvenated skin.
- Can help to significantly improve acne scarring in the ablative mode
- Helps to even out the skin tone (especially from carbon laser peel)
Possible Risks of Laser Skin Treatments
Like in any other treatment, there are certain, mainly minor risks coming with medical laser applications. That is why any laser treatment should be performed or supervised by board-certified dermatologists or other, specifically trained medical professionals, who know how to limit the risks associated with laser energy.
These potential risks are:
- Skin discoloration
2. Botox Injections
Botox is the leading brand name in what is formally known as botulinum toxin. This substance, when injected into the skin, blocks the motoric nerve function of the targeted facial muscle, which prevents facial wrinkling from muscle contractions.
This effect makes Botox the most famous, temporary anti-aging solution, which is currently administered to over 6 million patients each year.
How Botox Injection Works
Botox, when injected into a muscle, results in blockage of nerve impulses for facial muscle activity responsible for frowns, fine lines, and wrinkles. The facial skin will look smoother and rejuvenated results as an indirect result.
Benefits of Botox Injections
Botox is mainly known for its cosmetic application to reduce or eliminate fine lines and wrinkles. These results typically last for 6 – 9 months.
The benefits of Botox:
- is the best standard for wrinkles and frown lines, by eliminating their very reason of existence, though only temporarily.
- Botox can be used to relax hyperactive muscle activity of masticatory muscles
- Botox is also effective at treating Hyperhidrosis (palmar or axillary excessive sweating).
Risks of Botox
Botox is considered a safe procedure for both cosmetic and medical applications. Like other injectables, it is safest, when administered by a trained medical doctor.
Possible (temporary) side effects and complications include:
- pain, reddishness, swelling or bruising
- Eye dryness
Botox should not be used during pregnancy or during the duration of the breastfeeding period. Other contraindications are rare allergic reactions and unrealistic expectations.
3. Chemical Peel
Chemical Peel – how does it work?
The Chemical Peel is perhaps the most effective approach to skin resurfacing. The peeling agent – a solution of different acidic chemicals will be applied to the facial skin, which, depending on the strength of the chemical agent, causes the superficial layers of the skin to peel off. The result is a much smoother skin surface and a fresh production of new, smoother skin. Scars and fine lines can therefore be effectively treated.
The sole purpose of the peel is to remove superficial skin cells to make room for the regenerative reconstruction of fresh, smooth skin. It is known to improve the appearance of fine lines, acne, skin discoloration among others.
There are several strong, moderate, and mild medical-grade chemical peels, which are only available to medical professionals, such as Dermatologists. The effectiveness and aggressiveness of these chemical acidic agents, far surpasses classical over-the-counter chemical peels and therefore must be applied by trained professionals only, and ideally in a clinical setting.
Some of the most utilized chemical peel formulas:
- Trichloroacetic acid (TCA)
- Lactic acid
- Alpha hydroxy acid (AHA)
- Resorcinol exfoliant
- Salicylic acid
The solution is first applied to the (cleaned) face. After this most patients describe a warm to hot sensation lasting for approximately 5 to 10 minutes, followed by a (bearable) stinging sensation. Post-treatment application of cool compresses can help to ease the discomfort.
Benefits of Chemical Peels
- Exfoliation and smoother skin
- Improved skin tone
- Reduction of Hyperpigmentation and Melasma
- Improvement of acne and acne scarring
- Softening of fine lines
- Improvement of the appearance of large pores
Potential Side Effects of Chemical Peels
Especially some of the more aggressive chemical peel protocols can come with typical side effects, which is important to consider for patients with sensitive skin. Some classical side effects are:
- Feeling of numbness of the skin.
- “Burning” skin sensation.
- Crusting or scabbing of the skin.
- Increased skin sensitivity to sun exposure, which makes a patient more susceptible to sunburns.
4. Dermal Fillers
As an unwanted sign of aging, the skin loses important structural elements like collagen and hyaluronic acids, which causes a reduction of skin elasticity and therefore results in the formation of wrinkles and lines, especially visible in the facial area. (e.g. Juvederm, Restylane) can be injected into these areas which usually results in significant improvements in regards to wrinkle reduction and volume augmentation (e.g. to the lips or cheeks).
How Dermal Fillers Work
After a thorough cleaning of the face, and marking of the injection points, a numbing agent is applied to the area of interest. The numbing crème can be skipped for those dermal fillers, which contain a numbing agent in their formula. Then, the filler, which is usually a hyaluronic acid or a collagen-inducing chemical, will be injected with a tiny needle. Much of the result is up to the skill level of the medical professional, in regards to sculpting and injection technique. The procedure itself is usually not painful, though some patients report an initial stinging or a burning sensation while the filler is being injected.
Possible risks of Dermal Fillers
- Unlike traditional collagen-based dermal fillers, the modern hyaluronic acid-based fillers (e.g. Juvederm & Restylane) are usually very well tolerated.
- Swelling and bruising can occur
- Some distinctively hydrophilic fillers can cause a watery swelling around the eye area (periocular edema), and should therefore be avoided in close proximity to the eyes.
- Discomfort during injection (stinging and/or burning sensations) can occur and varies from individual to individual
This content is brought to you by Dr. Dominique Laatz MSc.