Fractional Nonablative Laser

Star Power: With pixilated beams of light, this laser can boost collagen, smooth wrinkles, and in some cases break up pigment beneath the skin—without the weeks of redness, swelling, and peeling that accompanied its predecessors. Only a fraction of the skin is targeted with each treatment; after about five, you have "resurfaced" your face, giving you a profound improvement in skin texture, and even some tightening.

Who Might Benefit: Are fine lines and roughness your issue? The Fraxel Re:store, Palomar XD, and Syneron eMatrix (which uses radiofrequency energy) minimize lines and leave skin luminous. If discoloration is your problem, consider the Fraxel Dual. It uses two wavelengths of light: One remodels collagen for smoothing; the other erases age spots.

You Should Know: Fractionated lasers leave your skin red and peeling for several days. Even with topical lidocaine, you'll experience heat and stinging during each treatment.

Chemical Peel

Star Power: A chemical peel, in which an acid solution is painted on the skin to lift away the upper layers, minimizes discoloration, smooths lines and crepiness, and even—when done deeply enough—helps tighten the skin. Doctors use various cocktails of differing strengths: Tricholoracetic acid (TCA) is one of the more powerful chemicals, malic acid is gentler, and glycolic acid falls in between.

Who Might Benefit: If you want a glow for a few days, a glycolic peel is your best bet. To reduce breakouts, try a series of salicylic acid peels. A TCA peel can erase pigment. To improve the skin on your chest, back, or hands, a chemical peel is a great option. "It's much faster—and much more affordable—than a laser treatment on a large area," says Erin Gilbert, MD, PhD, assistant professor of dermatology at SUNY Downstate.

You Should Know: Some peels, like TCA, yield dramatic results in one treatment—but leave skin red and peeling for up to ten days. Light glycolic peels require little downtime but have a less transformative effect.

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As a reminder, always consult your doctor for medical advice and treatment before starting any program.


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