Confused by dermatology terms like "Fraxel" and "acid filler"? Find out what doctors are talking about when they talk about…
B Botox: A purified form of botulinum toxin that when injected smooths lines by blocking nerve impulses that trigger wrinkle-causing muscle contractions. Results last three to six months. Cost: $300 and up per area.
C Chemical peels: Acid solutions painted on the face like a mask lift away upper layers of the skin (the higher the concentration—and longer it's left on—the deeper they go). Most superficial peels use glycolic or salicylic acid (better for oily skin); trichloroacetic acid (TCA) offers more intense exfoliation (and a few days of flaking and redness). Cost: $100 to $200 for a glycolic or salicylic acid peel (series of three to six is standard); $250 for a mild (less than 25 percent) TCA peel.
CO2 laser: "Ablative" resurfacing vaporizes the top layers of the skin (epidermis) before penetrating the dermis. One treatment obliterates dark spots, smooths deep wrinkles—and can leave your face red for months. Cost: $5,000 and up.
Collagen: There are two forms of human collagen (bioengineered from human foreskin tissue): CosmoDerm is thinner and primarily used in fine lines and along the lip border, and CosmoPlast has a thicker consistency preferable for deeper wrinkles. They have largely replaced bovine collagen, which requires an allergy test. Usually lasts only two to six months, but there's less risk of temporary bruising and swelling than with other fillers. Cost: $400 per injection.
E Endoscopic brow lift: A modified brow lift that requires three to five small incisions at the hairline. Cost: $5,000 to $6,000.
F Fat transfer: Fat harvested from one part of the body (usually the stomach, thighs, or butt) is used to recontour the face. Variable longevity, six months to two years. Cost: $1,200 and up.
Fraxel: A laser with a pixilated beam targets only small portions of the skin's surface at once (leaving healthy tissue between each "wound"), rather than removing the entire outer layer of skin (like the CO2 laser)—which means less recovery time (about three to ten days of redness). Results aren't as dramatic as with the CO2, but it will soften fine lines and improve uneven pigmentation. Up to six treatments, over eight to twelve weeks, suggested. Cost: $500 to $1,500 per treatment.
G GentleWaves: Pulses of low-energy light (from two panels that you sit under for about 45 seconds) help even out skin tone and stimulate skin cells to produce more collagen and elastin. At least six sessions are required. Often combined with other laser, peel, or intense pulsed light treatments. Cost: $100 and up.
H Hyaluronic acid fillers: Restylane is used to fill moderate to deep wrinkles and lasts an average of six months. Cost: $550 per injection. Hylaform causes slightly less postinjection swelling than Restylane, but results may not be as long-lasting. Cost: $550 per injection. Juvéderm, recently approved by the FDA, should be widely available some time next year; it could last a bit longer than Restylane. Cost: As yet undetermined.
I Intense pulsed light (IPL): Pulses of light are delivered through a handpiece held to the skin to reduce hyperpigmentation and redness. Four to six treatments are usually suggested. Cost: $400 per treatment.
S Sclerotherapy: A glycerin or saline solution injected into spider veins causes them to collapse; they're then reabsorbed into the body. Three to six treatments may be needed, depending on the size of the area. Cost: $300 and up per treatment.
Sculptra: A poly-L-lactic acid injectable that is considered a "dermal stimulator" because it triggers skin cells to make more of their own collagen. Requires three to four injections over several weeks; lasts about two years. Cost: $850 per injection.
Silicone: A permanent filler used mostly for wrinkles, acne scars, and lip enhancement. Banned in the early '90s for safety reasons, but now FDA approved for ophthalmological uses. Lasts forever. Cost: $500 to $1,000 per injection.
T Thermage: Radiofrequency energy heats the lower layers of the skin, causing tightening of collagen. Usually only one treatment is required. Cost: $1,200 to $2,500 (depending on areas being treated).
Thread lift: Barbed sutures are threaded into the tissue of the cheeks, jowls, brow, or neck and then pulled to lift the skin. Cost: $2,500 to $4,000.
Titan: An infrared laser that tightens collagen. Considered less painful than Thermage but requires three to five treatments. Cost: $700 to $2,000 per treatment.