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After numerous questions and comments about how various anti-aging facial treatments and procedures work and differ from one another, we are putting together a glossary. Please regard this as a work in progress that we will keep adding to and improving. So, if you’d like us to add a treatment, just leave a comment .
Botox, medically known as Botulinum Toxin Type A, is an injectable compound that disrupts the release of acetylcholine, which essentially paralyzes the muscle and stops the contraction. Results are fully evident within one week after treatment and remain for a minimum of three months. Studies on animals have shown that Botox can migrate to the brain.
Dysport (also called Reloxin) is an anti-aging treatment that works in exactly the same way as Botox, but is typically less expensive. It is said that the effects are more immediate (1-2 days against Botox’s 3-5) and last longer than Botox. However, Allergan, the maker of Botox, counters that Dysport is more likely to cause antibodt formation. Read more about Dysport.
Fraxel is a kind of laser anti-aging treatment that, instead of putting out a solid beam, it puts out lots of very tiny beams (fractionated) that punch microscopic holes in the skin. This approach means that damaged tissue can be targeted, leaving healthy tissue unscathed. Three to five sessions are required about two weeks apart.
Intense pulsed light (IPL) is not a laser per se. It uses broad-spectrum pulses of light which are absorbed into the skin where they eliminate excessive and enlarged blood vessels and brown marks. A computer-regulated light pulse heats a portion of the skin. This removes the unwanted tissue while it spares or avoids the surrounding healthy or “normal” tissue. This is because both long and short wavelengths of light can be delivered allowing better targeting than a traditional laser. Read more about IPL.
Laser treatments remove a layer of skin so that the new skin can flourish and fill in the wrinkles and crevices. An ablative laser facial is like a sandblast, removing the epidermis, or outermost layer of your skin, to reveal a smoother surface below. Typically you would receive topical anesthesia, local anesthesia, and intravenous sedation so that you are awake, but not fully aware. Temporary side effects including swelling, red crusted skin and discomfort. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the national average surgeon's fee for ablative laser skin resurfacing is $2,128. Titan Laser is an example of a non-ablative laser treatment. Read more about laser skincare treatments.
LED is light emitting diode with a low-level power output that uses red light (visible) and infra-red light (invisible). LED is much gentler than intense pulse light (IPL) or laser resurfacing. It works by stimulating the body’s tissues to convert the light energy into cellular energy. It boosts collagen production and scavenger cells that remove excess pigmentation or scar tissue. According to German researchers, it works by changing the molecular structure of a glue-like layer of water on elastin, the protein that provides elasticity in skin, blood vessels, heart and other body structures. The light strips away those water molecules that are involved in the immobilization of elastin, gradually restoring its elastic function and thus reducing facial wrinklesSessions cost in the region of $120 for about 20 minutes and are repeated monthly. Read more about LED.
Microcurrent delivers low level electric currents to that stimulate facial muscles (I believe that the system was originally designed by doctors to help stroke victims regain movement). Face and neck muscles feel toned – the equivalent of having done bicep curls. The process is enormously relaxing and it does result in a youthful glow. I’ve been doing this for at least seven years (it is a monthly treatment) and remain a believer. It’s supposed to increase elastin by 48% and collagen by 14%. In the UK it is called a CACI treatment. Read more about microcurrent.
Mesotherapy – also called lipolysis, lipozap, lipotherapy, or lipodissolve – is unregulated and there are no standard procedures. Mesotherapy uses a cocktail of fat cell busting medications, vitamins and plant extracts. No two doctors will necessarily administer the same cocktail. Some seem to use an emphysema drug called aminophylline. Consumer beware: the FDA has issued a warning about mesotherapy that you can read here.
Pellevé Wrinkle Reduction System is, at least, according to its manufacturer, the next-generation high frequency radiowave technology. One way of thinking about Pellevé – given FDA clearance in May 2009. Billed as a painless alternative to Thermage, it works by heating where the skin and fat layer come together, resulting in the denaturation of collagen fibers. This takes place at 41°C. Cost is typically $700 to $1200 and two sessions 30 days apart are recommended. The results of newly formed collagen won’t be seen for about three months. It is supposed to last 18 month. Read more about Pelleve.
PermaLip implant is a one-time procedure and, unlike injectable fillers, PermaLip can’t redistribute into an undesired portion of the lip, an ugly and obvious sign of having used lip fillers. However, silicone fillers can become hard and migrate in time. See silicone fillers below and Read more about PermaLip.
Restylane and other impermanent, injectable fillers simply worked by providing volume and puffing out the face (especially around the nasolabial folds. The substance injected in a Restylane treatment is sodium hyaluronate. According to an independent study, Restylane relaxes the fibroblasts, which are then re-stretched by the filler, and form collagen. So it may also be doing more than just a temporary job. Read more about Restylane.
Rhytec Portrait Plasma is another high frequency machine. It can be painful and result in damaged skin. People complain about burns, scars, infections, and worsened hyperpigmentation. Some even say that their wrinkles are worse after the procedure.
Sculptra is also called the liquid facelift. It was approved by the FDA in 2005 to plump up the hollowed cheeks of ultra-thin kidney or AIDs patients. Sculptra is made of poly-lactic acid and is injected to add volume beneath the surface of the skin. It is claimed that Sculptra actually stimulates production of collagen. However, I haven’t been able to verify that with any hard evidence. Claims that this is one of those lunchtime treatments that will have you back at your desk before anyone will miss you are also not borne out by studies or anecdotal reports. The cost ranges from around $800 to $3,000, depending on the number of vials used and how many areas are done. Results are supposed to last up to two years.
Selphyl is also known as the vampire filler. Platelets and fibrin are removed from the patients’ blood and then inject the substance into the patient’s face. Skin cell growth and collagen support is supposed to occur as a result. There are no independent studies that prove these claims as of yet. Read more about Selphyl.
Silicone fillers. Liquid silicone is used off-label to fill wrinkles, furrows and acne scars or add volume to lips and cheeks. It is less expensive than fillers like collagen and Restylane (a gel made of hyaluronic acid) and it is easy to work with. But most of all they like silicone because it is permanentOnce silicone hardens, it can also migrate to other parts of the body. Injected silicone is a controversial substance. The Journal of Toxicology reported that silicone injections led to multi-organ failure. Research collected by the Plaintiff’s Steering Committee (PSC) for the National Breast Implant Litigation shows that silicone has marked effects on the adrenal glands and liver, induces chronic inflammation, and degrades into smaller molecules, including silica.
Thermage is a high frequency treatment. It is notable for being painful and results are inconsistent and often disappointing. In 2008 the FDA declared that Thermage had been cleared to introduce its Thermatip CL system for the “temporary improvement in the appearance of cellulite”. However, results are not convincing and may even make it look worse. Read more about Thermage.
Ulthera System was launched in 2010, has been FDA cleared and approved to use the word “lift” It uses ultrasound and delivers a focused beam of heat (about 60 degrees celsius) for 20 mili-seconds. This induces production of more elastin and collagen. A full face treatment costs in the region of $2,500 to $3,000, but is supposed have permanent results. Read more about Ulthera.