Woman's face before and after skin treatments
Photo retouching simulates product/treatment results.

Easy Does It: Makeup and Creams

Concern: Crow's Feet and Forehead Lines
A retinoid cream will help your skin build collagen and soften lines around the eyes and on the forehead. Prescription formulas (brand names include Retin-A and Renova) yield improvement in two to three months; an over-the-counter retinoid (retinol) will also smooth lines, though results are less dramatic.
Cost: $46 for 20-gram tube of generic tretinoin (brand name Retin-A); $21 for Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Night.

Concern: Droopy Lids
Slightly arched brows make your lids look more lifted. Tweeze any hairs below your browbone, then dip a stiff, slanted brush into a brow powder (two shades lighter than your hair color) and fill in your arches with short, feathery strokes.
Cost: $7 for Sally Hansen Raise Some Brows Slant Tip Tweezer; $14 for Nyx Eyebrow Kit.

Concern: Undereye Circles
The fat pads under your eyes thin with age, creating shadows. A creamy concealer one shade lighter than your skin tone helps illuminate your undereye area.
Cost: $35 for Mally Beauty Cancellation Conditioning Concealer.

Concern: Nasolabial Folds
Nasolabial folds (the lines running from the corners of the nose to the corners of the mouth) are the result of volume loss in your cheeks. They'll be less noticeable if you create the illusion of higher cheekbones: Blend a cream blush above the apples of your cheeks.
Cost: $10 for Revlon Cream Blush in Berry Flirtatious.

Concern: Slackening Jawline
There's no cream that can lift or tighten a sagging jawline. But here's a surprising solution: Invest in a new haircut. A chin-length style that's slightly shorter around the face than in the back will give your face a lift. A few shorter layers at your crown create height that offsets drooping in your lower face.
Cost: $50 to $500 for a great haircut.

Concern: Brown Spots
You can fade brown spots with a lotion containing hydroquinone. A 2 percent concentration is available over-the-counter; for more significant lightening, your dermatologist can prescribe 4 percent. (Both concentrations yield results in about a month.) Supplement the lotion with a retinoid cream to speed cell turnover and slough away surface pigment. And if you don't want the spots to return, sunscreen is a must, every day, rain or shine.
Cost: $39 for Glytone Fading Lotion; $30 for 28.35-gram tube of prescription hydroquinone; $10 for Coppertone Oil Free Foaming Sunscreen SPF 75.

Next: What injections and lasers can do
Simulated results of needle and laser skin treatments
Photo: Philippe Salomon

The Middle Way: Needles and Lasers

Concern: Crow's Feet and Forehead Lines
Botox injections can make your crow's-feet disappear. Results are noticeable within a week and last at least three months. The injections can soften the grooves between your brows and across your forehead as well. If the lines are deep, your doctor can also inject a hyaluronic acid filler, like Restylane, in the lines to achieve total smoothness.
Cost: $400 for Botox; $600 for Restylane.

Concern: Hollows Under the Eyes
A hyaluronic acid filler with a very soft consistency (like Juvéderm Ultra) can be injected in the tear troughs to plump sunken areas under the eyes. You see results immediately, and they last up to a year.
Cost: $600

Concern: Nasolabial Folds
Injecting a hyaluronic acid filler (like Juvéderm UltraPlus and Perlane) in the cheeks will lift that area and soften the nasolabial folds. Results last six months to one year. Injections of your own fat sometimes last longer but require a two-part procedure—the fat must first be suctioned from your thighs or buttocks.
Cost: $600 for hyaluronic acid filler; $1,500 for fat transfer.

Concern: Slackening Jawline
Fillers can add definition to a softening jawline. Calcium-based Radiesse works well in this area; Juvéderm UltraPlus and Perlane are also effective. Results last up to six months.
Cost: $700 for Radiesse; $600 for Juvéderm or Perlane.

To improve moderate sagging, some doctors also recommend a noninvasive tightening procedure, like Thermage or Titan. After these treatments, effects peak around six months and last one to two years.
Cost: $1,000 to $2,000 per treatment (Thermage requires one session; Titan requires three).

Concern: Yellowing Teeth
A 15 to 35 percent hydrogen peroxide gel, followed by exposure to blue light, whitens teeth in the dentist's office. At-home whitening now works almost as quickly with good results.
Cost: $1,500 for professional whitening; $55 for Crest 3D White 2-Hour Express Whitening Strips.

Concern: Discoloration and Rough Spots
A series of three to six monthly chemical peels or microdermabrasion treatments helps lighten dark spots and smooth rough patches.
Cost: $150 per treatment.

Three to five monthly intense pulsed light (IPL) treatments even out diffuse freckling and redness.
Cost: $500 per treatment.

Concentrated dark spots can be zapped with a Q-switched laser; after one treatment, scabs (formerly dark spots) fall off in about two weeks.
Cost: $200 to $600 (depending on size and number of dark spots).

Next: What surgery can achieve
Simulated results of cosmetic surgery

No Holds Barred: Scalpels and Sutures

Concern: Forehead Lines and Falling Brows
Botox is your best bet for smoothing forehead lines, but surgery is necessary to reposition a drooping brow. A browlift can be performed one of three ways (see
our glossary); all of the procedures require anesthesia. Downtime is about five days; bruising and swelling may not completely subside for several weeks.
Cost: $400 for Botox; $3,000 for browlift.

Concern: Crow's Feet
One treatment with a fractional ablative laser can dramatically smooth deep lines around the eyes. The procedure requires pain medication, and you'll have red, flaky, swollen skin for several days afterward. The nonablative version of the fractional technology involves only mild redness and swelling but requires three to five treatments (at 30- to 60-day intervals), and won't completely efface deep lines. (Both lasers can also be used all over the face.)
Cost: $1,500 for fractional ablative laser; $1,000 for fractional nonablative laser (per treatment).

Concern: Droopy Lids and Hollows Under the Eyes
Eyelid surgery (blepharoplasty) removes excess sagging skin above and below your eyes, and in many cases the undereye fat pads can be repositioned to plump up hollows in your tear troughs. If that's not possible, some surgeons also inject fat (harvested from the patient's thighs or buttocks) under the eyes. Blepharoplasty calls for anesthesia; downtime is about four or five days (with potential bruising and swelling for weeks).
Cost: $3,000 for blepharoplasty; $1,500 for fat transfer.

Concern: Deep Lines, Sagging Cheeks, Loose Jawline
A facelift can smooth deep lines and add fullness to the cheeks by repositioning sagging fat pads and tightening underlying tissue. The surgery may also minimize hollowness under the eyes. Many surgeons now perform "short scar" facelifts, cutting from the temples (behind the hairline) down in front of the ears, stopping just behind the earlobes. If you also want to tighten your jawline, the incisions can continue up into your hairline behind your ears; the surgeon will reposition underlying tissue and remove excess skin in the lower face. The procedure is performed under anesthesia; downtime is a week or two, and bruising can last over a month.
Cost: $7,000.

For more details, read our skin treatment dictionary

Our Expert Panel

Lisa Airan, MD, aesthetic dermatologist in New York City
Trevor Born, MD, clinical lecturer of cosmetic surgery at the University of Toronto
Charles Boyd, MD, assistant clinical professor of otolaryngology at the University of Michigan Medical School
Fredric Brandt, MD, director of the Dermatology Research Institute, Coral Gables, Florida
Anne Chapas, MD, clinical assistant professor of dermatology at New York University Medical Center
David Colbert, MD, director of New York Dermatology Group
Jeffrey Dover, MD, associate clinical professor of dermatology at Yale School of Medicine
Haideh Hirmand, MD, clinical assistant professor of surgery at Cornell-Weill Medical College/New York Presbyterian Hospital
Ranella Hirsch, MD, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Boston University Medical Center
Stanley Jacobs, MD, Founder of the Center for Facial Cosmetic Surgery, Healdsburg, California
Arielle Kauvar, MD, clinical associate professor of dermatology at NYU School of Medicine
Alan Matarasso, MD, clinical professor of surgery at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University

Your Guide to Perfect Skin
Photos: Philippe Salomon


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