When it comes to fixing the deep wrinkles you already have, you are not going to to find your miracle cream in the department store aisle. You're just not. I don't care what the Oil of Olay and Neutrogena commercials tell you, except for Retin-A and other miracle Vitamin A products you are not going to erase your wrinkles by smothering your face in a $10 cream or even a $100 cream (sorry, eye cream aficionados). These creams may temporarily plump up skin and smooth out the finest of wrinkles, but the deep wrinkles require deeper pockets on your part and a professional.
The best wrinkle erasers are to be found in your cosmetic surgeon or your dermatologist's office. These include lasers, chemical peels, Botox and fillers. None are perfect. None last as long as a facelift and all are costly. Here, I feature 5 wrinkle fixes you can have done by a doctor and I weigh both the pros and the cons so you can decide if they're worth trying.
A Face Lift or Eyelift
I know many women who have told me (always in hushed voices) that they got a facelift and I'm here to say they all looked damn good for their age. Depending upon how I feel in about 25 years, I may get one myself. The secret to a good facelift is in the doctor. You never want to scrimp and save when it comes to your face. Ask for recommendations, go in for a consultation and arm yourself with knowledge (malpractice lawsuits, anyone?) before you go under the knife.
The pros of face lifts: The lift you get tends to be permanent, so in the end the hefty price tag ends up being less than you'd spend on 20 years of regular Botox and fillers.
The cons of facelifts: Sometimes you can tell someone's had one. If you are 70 years old and your face is taut, I'm sorry but people who know your age will know you had one. And as long as you're OK with it, who cares? You look good at your age and that's what counts. I say carry yourself proudly.
BotoxBotox works by targeting and "freezing" muscles that cause wrinkles. It works. I know this because I've tried it. According to dermatologist Tina Alster in Harper's Bazaar, "Botox remains the gold standard for treating crow's lines and wrinkles."
The pros of Botox: Botox tends to be affordable compared to lasers, fillers and facelifts. Botox runs about $300-$500 per treated area. Results last 3-6 months. You can fix lines between the eyes and diminish smile lines along the eyes with Botox.
The cons of Botox: Too much Botox and you can be left with an over-arched eyelid or a frozen forehead as witnessed on several actresses including Halle Berry, Nicole Kidman and Marcia Cross who've fallen victim to "unmoveable forehead" jokes. Also the results last 3-4 months, which isn't a long time considering you may need them for 30 years!
Chemical PeelsEver notice how your foundation looks when it's applied to scaly, dry skin? Yep. Pretty gross. When this happens to me, I find I look older and, well, more ashen. You can sheer a few years off your face in under an hour with a professional chemical peel. Chemical peels work by removing the damaged top layers of skin while helping increase cell turnover at a deep level. You can book a light peel or sign up for a series of them.
A mild, glycolic acid chemical peel will set you back $150-$300, but you can get similar results in just one month with over-the-counter peels. I include peels in my list of the Best Scrubs and Peels.
The pros of peels: They are relatively inexpensive and provide an immediate lift.
The cons of peels: They can be painful. They won't erase deep wrinkles.
Learn more in What are Chemical Peels?.
InjectablesHyaluronic-acid injectable fillers such as Restylane, Juvederm or Juvederm Ultra Plus (for deeper lines) work by replacing the fat lost as you age. These are best used in the lines that run from your nose to your chin (called the "nasiolabial folds") and to puff up the fat lost in the cheeks.
Procedures must be done by a professional and the cost is $600-$1,000 a needle. Results can last up to six months.
The pros of fillers: Done well and you will look 5-10 years younger.
The cons of fillers: They last only a few months and are expensive (think $600-$2500 a visit, depending on how much your doctor charges). When you poke at the face, you can sometimes actually feel the filler, which can be weird.
LasersAs we age, collagen production slows down significantly making our faces appear thinner, and more gaunt (on the plus side, I've found collagen depletion shows off great bone structure if you have it). Lasers such as Fraxel -- currently the most popular laser on the market -- are able to penetrate deep within the skin to treat damaged skin and boost collagen production. According to Fraxel's official Website, the laser creates microscopic tears deep within the skin which trigger the body to naturally produce more collagen in the repairing process.
Non-ablative lasers work by fixing age spots, bumps on the skin, scars and uneven skin tone. You may experience redness afterward, but this usually recedes within a few hours.
Cost is about $1,000 a session. Like most laser therapies (including hair removal, which I underwent), you'll need 3-5 sessions spaced about a month apart.
The pros of lasers: Skin tone is improved immediately and imperfections can be fixed right in your doctor's office.
The cons of lasers: You may experience redness for awhile. These won't fix deep lines and wrinkles.
How Not to Fall For the Shame Behind Cosmetic Fixes
An acquaintance told me she met an elderly woman in NYC who looked much, much younger than her 80 years. My friend was enthralled by her and wanted to know the secret to looking so fabulous. In the course of conversation, the woman (named Ruth) told my friend she'd moved from Europe in the 30s to escape the Nazis and ended up in Manhattan where she became a writer. Her expertise? How to look young naturally. In fact, she claimed to have written the first book on natural beauty which was a success in the 70s.
So what was the secret to Ruth's youthful looks? The secret, according to Ruth, was that after she made all the money on the first book, she spent some of the proceeds on an eyelift.
When I tell this story, some people tend to freak out. They're disappointed in how youth-obsessed our culture is and that someone, who was once into natural beauty, obviously fell from grace. But the truth is, many, many women these days are going under the knife to get eyelifts or facelifts and they're being very secretive about it because they don't want to be judged.
I say, do it and forget what others think. If it makes YOU feel good, that's what counts.
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