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Anti-Aging Treatments - What Are They?

anti-aging treatments
Is a Solution for:
Sagging Skin
September 4, 2014 Reviewed by Marta 24 Comments

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.

Chemical Peels are when a chemical solution is applied to the skin, which causes it to "blister" and eventually peel off. There are three types of peels. Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) — such as glycolic, lactic, or fruit acids — are the mildest of the formulas and produce a light peel. These peels may cause stinging, redness, and crustiness. Weeping scabs are considered normal providing they clear up after a couple of days. Trichloroacetic acid (TCA) is a deeper peel that requires a couple of days of recovery time according to the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. However, you’d probably empty the subway if you went out after only 48 hours. Phenol peels work on removing really deep wrinkles. Considerable swelling, oozing and crustiness can be expected afterward and they should only be attempted if followed by two weeks off from work. The upside is results that can last years. Read more on chemical peels.

Dermaplaning requires the use of a sterile, surgical scalpel to gently "shave" the skin's surface, removing the top-most layer of dead skin along with fine, vellus hair (aka peach fuzz). Physical exfoliation triggers the cell regeneration process and allows products to better penetrate skin. Some practitioners perform a chemical peel post-dermaplaning. Read more on dermaplaning.

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.

HydraFacial exfoliates (similar to microdermabrasion) while simultaneously hydrating skin with water. A treatment is approximately 15 minutes and painless, usually with immediate, visible effects after one treatment. It is marketed as a specialized facial designed for all skin types, even sensitive skin (but not rosacea), and treats a variety of skin issues, including acne (not cystic), fine lines and hyperpigmentation. There is no skin irritation or downtime needed, and the smoothness and hydration should last five to seven days. The procedure employs two types of exfoliation: a gentle version of crystal-free microdermabrasion and a mild, pneumatic chemical peel. Skin is hydrated throughout the facial with water infused with antioxidants and vitamins dispensed from a wand connected to the system. Read more on Hydrafacial.

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.

Jet Peel A handheld device sprays a high velocity jet stream of sterile saline solution and compressed oxygen on the skin. (The liquid/oxygen combination is the only thing that ever touches your skin.) Benefits from the procedure are deep cleansing, exfoliation, hydration, oxygenating and micro-circulating of the treated area. A Jet Peel can help in treating clogged pores, acne and blackheads, scars, skin discoloration and multiple signs of aging. Also, there is no down time required afterward. Read more on Jet Peel.

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. There are different LED colors and they perform different functions. For example, red LED light is for wrinkle repair, rosacea and broken veins. Blue or violet LED light is for treating acne. Blue light works on acne by penetrating the skin and producing singlet oxygen, which can destroy acne-causing bacteria. Read more about LED.

Microcurrent uses a subsensory electric current that delivers a pulse to the facial muscles and stimulates them and the surrounding tissue. The theory is that microcurrent improves the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the chemical in muscles that provides energy. It’s supposed to increase elastin by 48% and collagen by 14%. The effects are cumulative and the muscles are purported to “remember” where they are supposed to be (eg: lifted, not sagging). Regular (monthly) salon treatments are an effective face firmer, especially augmented with an at-home device for maintenance. I do both and am a big believer. Read more about microcurrent.

Microdermabrasion is a form of exfoliation that removes the top layer of dead skin cells and uneven, thicker layers of skin. Professional machines use crystal and diamond microdermabrasion tips. The crystals are sprayed and the machine follows by vacuuming them.  The suction or vacuum action also serves to pull the skin closer to the sandy disc in order to abrade the skin and remove dead cells. Home devices use crystal or diamond tips, however, unlike with professional machines, the amount of suction cannot be controlled. Microdermabrasion can be helpful for mild sun damage but will not remove sunspots in the way that laser will. 

Micro-needling is a treatment that constitutes a form of Collagen Induction Therapy (CIT). It is also referred to as a non-ablative skin treatment. This means that the deeper parts of the skin are treated without removing the top layer of skin. Little needle pricks serve to cause bleeding. As a result, the skin perceives that it has undergone a trauma, and it starts to produce collagen to repair the wounds. There are 300 perforations made per square centimeter of skin treated. Needle depths typically range from 0.25 mm, which only affects the epidermis, to 2.5 mm, which can reach the reticular dermis. Micro-needling can be performed by a dermaroller, dermastamp or dermapen. Read more on microneedling.

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 permanent. Once 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.

Ultrasound Therapeutic ultrasound frequency ranges from 1-3 MHz. The higher the frequency, the less effective the ultrasound is. Ergo, 2 is stronger than 5. Ultrasound for the face is typically 3MHz. As the ultrasound waves pass from the treatment head to the skin, they cause a vibration of the surrounding tissues, particularly those that contain collagen. It is important to note that this is not a thermal therapy like Ulthera (see below). The idea is that the rapid oscillation of tissue created by ultrasound energy promotes movement of fluid waves against cells, facilitating movement between the inner and outer cells and thereby increased fibroblastic activity and collagen formation. Read more on how ultrasound works

Vi Peel consists of a blend of trichloroacetic acid, Retin-A, salicylic acid, phenol and vitamin C. Retin-A is a proven wrinkle fighter, TCA can relieve the skin of fine wrinkles and surface blemishes, salicylic acid is an exfoliant and an anti-inflammatory agent, vitamin C stimulates collagen and battles wrinkles and hyperpigmentation and phenol provides long lasting solutions to major issues such as deep set wrinkles. Read more on the Vi Peel.

Note: This article was last updated on September 4, 2014


Marta Wohrle is an anti-aging skin care and beauty expert and the founder/CEO of Truth In Aging. Marta is dedicated to uncovering the truth behind anti-aging product claims.

  • September 5, 2014

    by Annette

    Love this! Just a note, because both Botox and Dysport are on the list. Xeomin is a muscular neurotoxin and Botox and Dysport competitor that seems to be gaining some ground. FDA-approved botulinum toxin type A that is free from complexing proteins.

  • January 7, 2011

    by marta

    Georgia - Titan is a non ablative laser and I have added it to the laser entry in the post.

  • January 6, 2011

    by marta

    Hollis, I couldn't find any information on SILQ. I have however added an item on silicone fillers and on Permalip. Please point me in the direction of anything you think I should include.

  • January 3, 2011

    by Stephanie

    Thanks to Marta and Isanna! I'll report back....

  • January 2, 2011

    by marta

    I agree with Isanna that Balance would be good. I also find Platinum's Blemish Treatment helpful: http://truthinaging.com/face/reviewed-and-recommended-acne-and-oily-skin-control-from-platinum

  • January 2, 2011

    by Isanna

    Stephanie, I am using YBF Balance as spot treatment. I am in process of writing reviews for YBF Balance and Nourish. Balance cleared my acne in a matter of days. It is very drying to use all over the face but as a spot treatment it is excellent.

  • January 1, 2011

    by Stephanie

    I forgot to ask whether you or the rest of the TIA gang has any as of yet unreported acne spot treatments to recommend. My skin has been breaking out, and the pimples aren't responding to the treatments which worked previously, including the astara blue flame mask. I see lots of cleansers, but no recent effective spot treatments.

    Thanks,
    Stephanie

  • January 1, 2011

    by Stephanie

    Hi Marta,
    I've not tried anything from Arcona previously. I see that you've tried it before http://truthinaging.com/face/reviewed-and-recommended-arcona-peptide-firming-complex

    Why did you stop? Has the formula changed since the last time you used it? I'm putting it on my shopping list. As soon as my bank balance perks up, I'll order it.

    Happy New Year!
    Stephanie

  • January 1, 2011

    by marta

    Hi Lori, great find. Another <a href="http://truthinaging.com/eyes/are-you-paying-double-for-the-exact-same-cosmetic" rel="nofollow">product twin</a>! The Cosmedix version looks very worthy of trying out. Peumus boldus extract is new to me and I just checked it out and it seems to be a potent antioxidant. The Cosmedix is available on <a href="http://www.amazon.com/CosMedix-Affirm-1-fl-oz/dp/B0032ET18S/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=beauty&qid=1293900929&sr=8-1" rel="nofollow">Amazon.com</a> for $48 so I ordered it. I'll come back with a post on this. Thanks Lori!

  • December 31, 2010

    by lori

    Hi Marta, I'm curious what you think of these two antioxidant serums, and would this be a viable alternative to Replenish or possibly a companion serum. They are nearly identical in their ingredients, but Sircuit Skin is priced higher.

    Cosmedix Affirm: $78.00
    Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Water, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Protein, Aqua (Water), Peumus Boldus (D-boldine) Leaf Extract, Glycerin, Catalase, Cassia Angustifolia Seed Polysaccharide, Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG), D-alpha-tocopherol, Silicone, Heavy Water (Deuterium Oxide), Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Extract, Resveratrol, Whey Protein, Thioredoxin, Xanthan Gum, Vaccinium Angustifolium (Blueberry) Fruit Extract, Glutathione (L), Superoxide Dismutase, D-beta-glucosamine, Aminoguanidine, Spin Trap (PBN), Fullersomes, Citrus Reticulata Leaf Oil, Santalum Album (Sandalwood) Oil, Benzyl Alcohol

    Sircuit Skin Addict $115.00
    Ingredients:
    Witch Hazel (Hamamelis Virginiana) Extract, Glycine Soja, Distilled Water, D-Boldine,(Peumus Boldus) Extract, Vegetable Glycerin, Cassia Beta-Glycan (Cassia Angustifolia) Extract, Green Tea (Camellia Sinensis) Extract, Vitamin E (D-Alpha-Tocopherol), Silicone, (Deuterium Oxide) Heavy Water/D20, Grape Seed (Vitis Vinifera) Extract, Whey Protein, Xanthan Gum, L-Glutathione, L-Super-Oxide Dismu-Tase, D-Beta Glucosamine, L-Carmosine, Resveratrol/Polydatin, L-Asca-Ridole, Spin Trap, Fullersomes, Amino-L-Ascs-Ridole, Spin Trap, Fullersomes, Amino-Guanidine, Sandalwood (Santalum Album) Essential Oil, Grapefruit (Citrus Grandis) Essential Oil.

  • December 31, 2010

    by marta

    Stephanie, I just had an idea. Well actually it was Olivier, who reminded me about Arcona's products. Have you tried them? I have just ordered the<a href="http://www.amazon.com/ARCONA-Peptide-Firming-Complex-Regenerate/dp/B001ENTYFE/ref=pd_sim_bt_29" rel="nofollow"> Peptide Firming Complex</a>. Not sure if it would be a substitute for Replenish, but it has good actives and is in a similar price range.

  • December 27, 2010

    by Marta

    My bottle of Replenish (almost finished) is from the old batch). Danny tested the new one and liked it and had no problems.

    You could get tetrahydrocurcuminoids at Lotioncrafter http://www.lotioncrafter.com/. You could use turmeric, but it will stain orange.

    I need to keep thinking about this.

  • December 27, 2010

    by Stephanie

    Marta,
    Glad to hear you had a good holiday.

    I am reluctant to give up Replenish, but the new formula irritates my skin- stings, then itches. Are you still using it? If so, have you noticed anything from the new formula? I submitted feedback to Osmosis, but I've not heard a thing in response, which is disappointing. I've got more than 2/3 of a bottle left which I do not want to waste so I may try using it in the spring/summer when the humidity goes up.

    I've got the SenZen Infinity, which I love for décolletage, but I am worried it will make my face break out.

    I've got the YBF Antioxidants,and coincidentally started using it this evening, prior to reading your suggestion. How would I add tetrahydrocurcuminoids?

    If you think of anything else, please let me know....

    Thanks again,
    Stephanie

  • December 26, 2010

    by marta

    Merry Christmas to you too Stephanie. Your question as to what to replace Replenish with is a tough one. Replenish has some very good and not especially common ingredients for a good price. I can't think of anything that is similar. Here are a few thoughts though. One of the main ingredients is phosphatidycholine. You don't see this too often, but it is in SenZen's Infinity (a lot more expensive, but there is <a href="http://truthinaging.com/store/SenZen-Infinity-Never-Ending-Moisture" rel="nofollow">20% off right now</a>). And it has good peptides and antioxidants. Another approach would be Your Best Face Antioxidants Concentrate, it has ferulic acid and spin trap (like Replenish) and you could add your own tetrahydrocurcuminoids (tumeric).

    I'll keep thinking about this though.

  • December 24, 2010

    by Stephanie

    Marta,
    Per our earlier conversation, I wanted to let you know that the irritation from Replenish has gotten extreme, and I am in need of a replacement for it. What would you recommend?

    Thanks and Merry Xmas!

    Stephanie

  • December 23, 2010

    by primrose krasicki

    Hi Marta you are a treasure for posting this fascinating article of facial treatments .Im going to have serious read after Christmas . Please keep us aware and updated on these treatments and if FDA approves is so important. Off the line ihave given up expensive night creams no matter how good and its plain old 100% rose hip oil! Have a Cool Yule Christmas in freezing USA and thank you again for the article that encourages and warns ... Primrose Krasicki,Australia

  • December 23, 2010

    by Georgia

    Marta,
    Where does Titan laser fit in with these anti-aging methods?

  • December 22, 2010

    by Hollis

    Great summary, Marta! I'm going to print this out and take it along when I discuss these options with my doctors. You omitted Silicone products such as SILQ, which is alleged to affect permanent changes (inspiring fear in some, elation in others, and hopefully caution in everyone!) Thank you for making this useful information available to us.

  • December 20, 2010

    by marta

    One of our regular contributors, <a href="http://truthinaging.com/contributor/danny" rel="nofollow">Danny</a>, has promised to write a review of his Sculptra experience.

  • December 20, 2010

    by marta

    Stephanie, I'm not sure. But the old formula listed "ethyl" as the third ingredient, which I guess was alcohol. New the new lists "corn alcohol". Perhaps, there has been a change there too and the new alcohol is stronger or different and possibly irritating.

  • December 19, 2010

    by Stephanie

    Thanks Marta! Do you think that the lack of Astaxanthin might account for the sudden sting of the product on my sensitive skin? I was a huge fan of Replenish specifically because it worked so well for me....sigh now I need to find something else.

    Thanks again,
    Stephanie

  • December 19, 2010

    by Marta

    Hi Stephanie, yes Osmosis has changed the formula. I asked them about this a few weeks ago. Replenish no longer has astaxanthin. When I asked why, they said that this was purely to do with the color. Astaxanthin is the stuff that makes salmon pink. It is also a great antioxidant so its a pity that it is no longer included. The ingredients list in the TIA shop is the most up to date. http://truthinaging.com/store/Osmosis%20Replenish?keyword=osmosis%20replenish&category_id=0

  • December 19, 2010

    by Lori

    Thanks Marta! Now can we hear from folks who have experience with any of these and what results, if any, were obtained? Personally, I had 3 or 4 Fraxel treatments. They were not the most comfortable experience, depending on your pain tolerance, mine is quite high. After the procedure I looked and felt sunburned but most of that was gone the next day. Not sure that I have seen amazing results (you have to wait a few months for results). Some age spots are lighter. No one but my aesthetician has commented on improved appearance (and of course she would) I might try one more time unless I hear of something better. Thanks for this info Marta, you're an amazing support to us all. Love TIA... seek and ye shall find!

  • December 18, 2010

    by Stephanie

    Marta,
    I have an unrelated question; I'm putting it here as it's your most recent post.

    Has Osmosis changed its formulation Replenish recently? I bought a new bottle (via the TIA store) a few weeks ago, and it seems "different". The color is now milky white, whereas it used to be pinkish; when I put it on my skin it stings a bit which it never used to do. So, I'm wondering why this bottle is different than the others I've used?

    Thanks,
    Stephanie

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