There are so so many kinds of skin rejuvenation.
The choices can feel overwhelming. How do you decide what to work on first?
First, it's important to do an honest self-assessment. What do you consider your best feature? Think about what other people say. Do they tell you that you have beautiful eyes? Are your teeth pretty and straight? Consider all these things and come up with one aspect you’d like to focus on. If you have great teeth but wrinkles around your mouth, maybe it’s time to take care of those wrinkles. Make your beautiful teeth your focal point.
So you’ve decided which feature to restore first. What's the best method to fix it? There are many kinds of skin rejuvenation. Everyone tells you theirs is the best. But you should research your options. Many medical spas offer free consultations. Take advantage of them! Most people find their choices are limited by time or money - or both.
Two important things to consider before any kind of skin rejuvenation treatment:
- Can you take time off of work after a laser treatment – or are you comfortable going out in public looking red and swollen?
- Insurance doesn't cover cosmetic treatments. Can you afford the treatment?
Here's a rundown of the average costs & down time for some of the most common kinds of skin rejuvenation:
Laser Skin Resurfacing / Laser Peel for Aging, Sun Damage, & Scars
Lasers use concentrated pulses of light to cause a carefully controlled amount of damage to your skin. The damage starts a healing response, which creates smoother, new skin.
In general, the more skin removed, the better the result - but also the more expense, pain, recovery time, and possibility of side effects.
Lasers can be ablative or nonablative. Each kind has a different recovery time and gets very different results.
Ablative lasers remove part or all of the top layer of your skin while heating the lower layers. Depending on the type of ablative laser used (more skin removed = more downtime), you may need to plan on a week off of work while your skin heals. People who have the entire top layer of skin treated (as opposed to just parts like with a fractional laser) should expect to look severely sunburned - possibly swollen and blistered - followed by crusting and peeling. Some people's skin stays a pink or red color for months - even as long as a year.
Nonablative lasers leave the top layer of your skin perfectly intact while heating the bottom layer. These treatments usually cause redness and swelling for a few days, but most people don't need time off from work. However, they do require multiple treatments to get a good result.
How much does laser resurfacing cost? RealSelf.com lists the average cost at $2,300, but it can range anywhere from $100 to $6,200 based on 625 reviews.
Micro-Needling for Aging, Sun Damage & Scars
Micro-needling is a newer option. It uses tiny needles to puncture the top layer of your skin, which in turn, starts new growth of collagen and elastin. It minimizes wrinkles, pores, dark spots and even some stretch marks. It's one of the best options for scar reduction. Down time consists of 1 day of redness. Most people go back to work the next day.
Micro-needling is better than lasers in that it can be used on all skin types. Check out this video on Good Morning America about micro-needling. And be sure to read our post, Why Micro-Needling Is Better Than Other Kinds of Skin Rejuvenation.
How much does micro-needling cost? The average cost is $650, and can range anywhere from $25 to $1,650. These numbers are based on 620 reviews submitted on RealSelf.
You'll need several treatments. Six treatments are recommended, but most people stop when they're happy with their results.
IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) / Photorejuvenation / Photofacial) for Dark Spots & Discoloration (Technically Not a Laser)
How is IPL different from lasers? IPL uses many wavelengths of light, while lasers use one focused wavelength. Light from IPL is more scattered (think a flashlight vs. a laser pointer). The advantage is that the light from IPL is able to reach the bottom layer of your skin with less damage to the top layer. This is much harder to do with a laser.
IPL can be used for hair removal or to correct dark spots. For this article, I will be talking about IPL for skin rejuvenation - not hair removal.
This treatment works best on areas with discoloration including spider veins, sun damage, and hyperpigmentation.
“While IPL photorejuvenation is generally more costly than procedures like microdermabrasion and chemical peels, it is less expensive than most cosmetic surgery and laser skin treatment. Still, the price for a single photofacial/fotofacial session can be as high as $500 or $600. The overall cost of photorejuvenation treatment will depend on the severity of the aesthetic issues involved as well as the number of treatments needed to resolve them.”
In other words, multiple treatments are necessary. Expect to have as many as 6 treatments depending upon the condition of your skin. The more dark spots you have, the more treatments you'll require. Your time between treatments could be as long as 4 - 6 weeks.
Do people like IPL? IPL gets a 75% "Worth It" rating based on 130 ratings over the last 24 months.
How much does IPL cost? The average cost for IPL is about $625, and ranges anywhere from $50 to $1,400 based on 1,046 reviews submitted on RealSelf.
Skin tightening works in different ways depending on the kind of machine used. Below is an overview. To learn more details, read our post, 4 Ways to Tighten Your Skin - No Surgery Necessary!
Thermage is one of the better known devices. It uses radiofrequency to heat tissue. It can be painful and usually requires 1 - 3 treatments with little to no downtime.
How much does Thermage cost? The average cost for Thermage is $2,450 and ranges from $900 - $4,500 based on 388 reviews submitted on RealSelf.
Ultherapy is another way to tighten skin, but instead of radiofrequency it uses ultrasound to start new collagen production. You'll feel pain during the treatment as heat energy is delivered to the muscles and deeper layers of your skin. For most people, the pain is well controlled with a topical anesthetic or by taking ibuprofen prior to treatment. Many doctors recommend 2 treatments.
Do people like Ultherapy? Ultherapy gets an 80% "Worth It" rating on RealSelf based on 236 ratings over the last 24 months.
How much does Ultherapy cost? RealSelf.com lists the average cost of Ultherapy as $2,600, with a range of anywhere from $1,200 - $4,500. Pricing changes with the number of areas you choose to have treated.
Ultherapy pricing varies WIDELY from practice to practice. Some guarantee results - so if you need a second treatment it's free. Others give a discount for a second treatment. Some practices don't give discounts at all. I highly recommend you check pricing before your appointment!
Chemical Peels for Scars, Dark Spots, Wrinkles, Sun Damage & Improved Skin Texture
Chemical peels use acid to cause a very controlled first- or second-degree burn that makes your skin peel. When the old skin comes off, new, healthy tissue forms that is tighter and smoother. Blemishes and imperfections “peel” away. They are excellent at resurfacing your skin and brightening dark spots.
Chemical peels vary in price and recovery time depending on the type of peel used. Deep peels require more down time and cost more. Light peels cost less and recovery time is quicker. According to Docshop.com:
“For light chemical peels, patients can expect to pay between $150 and $300. While the price of this chemical peel is the lowest of the three types, light chemical peels usually must be repeated multiple times for optimal results.”
Deep chemical peels often require anesthesia and follow-up care. Recovery time for a light peel can be up to a week. A medium peel can take 2 weeks and a deep peel recovery can last 21 days. To learn more, read our blog post, 3 Types of Chemical Peels to Make Your Skin Radiant!
How much do chemical peels cost? RealSelf lists the average cost for a chemical peel as $375. That cost can range anywhere between $25 and $2,050 based on 519 reviews. Your cost will vary by the type of peel. Often you can get a discount by buying a package of peels. Also, as the strength of the peel increases, your price will increase too.
Microdermabrasion smooths & brightens skin
Microdermabrasion is generally for people with minor skin imperfections. The device uses tiny crystals to remove the outer layer of dead skin cells. There is no downtime.
MedicineNet.com describes it like this:
“Microdermabrasion costs may range from $100-$250, the average cost being around $100 per session. Mild pinkness of the skin is the desired outcome and usually resolves within minutes to hours after microdermabrasion.”
Do people like microdermabrasion? On RealSelf, microdermabrasion gets an 89% "Worth It" rating based on 36 ratings over the last 24 months. It gets a 73% "Worth It" rating based on 216 ratings over all time.
How much does it cost? According to RealSelf, the average cost is $175, but it can range anywhere from $25 to $800 based on 243 reviews. 4 - 6 treatments are recommended to get the best result.
Botox & Other Botulinum Toxins for Wrinkles
Botox is an Allergan product that is a form of purified botulinum toxin A. It softens wrinkles by blocking the nerves that move your muscles. These injections work best on the wrinkles that you see when you move your face (like crow's feet and frown lines).
Recent studies have shown Botox Cosmetic increased skin elasticity and pliability for about 4 months.
Dysport and Xeomin are 2 other kinds of botulinum toxins that compete with the Allergan brand, Botox; but they all work in a similar way.
There is no downtime, but you must wait about 2 weeks for the medicine to take full effect. If you have more questions, read our article, Considering Botox? and How much Botox will you need? How much will your Botox cost?
Do people like Botox? Botox gets a 95% "Worth It" rating on RealSelf based on 1764 ratings from the last 2 years.
How much does Botox cost? The average cost per treatment runs about $550 according to RealSelf.com. This number is based on 12,686 patient reviews. (Those reviews show a price range anywhere from $25 to $1,050. BUT THE LOW NUMBERS may be the cost per unit - usually $10-$25 - instead of the total cost of one treatment.)
The deeper the line / wrinkle, the more units of Botox are needed. Most people get Botox injections every 3 1/2 months. Manufacturers do not recommend getting them any more frequently than every 3 months.
Sometimes there are sales or discounts - usually for people who regularly get Botox.
- Offices run promotions
- Allergan (the pharmaceutical company that makes Botox) has a program called Brilliant Distinctions where you can earn a discount on future treatments.
Juvederm & Hyaluronic Acid Fillers Fill Wrinkles & Scars & Add Volume
“Restylane and Juvederm are usually priced by the syringe. For example, filling out the nasolabial folds (the lines from the nose to the mouth) will take one or two syringes usually. One syringe will range from $450 to $600. Perlane and Juvederm Ultra Plus (the thicker versions) generally cost about $500 to $750 per syringe.”
There are different fillers within the Juvederm (by Allergan) line. They vary by thickness. Generally, the thicker the formulation, the more expensive and the longer it lasts:
- Juvéderm Voluma adds volume and is placed on your cheekbones. This is the thickest formulation.
- Juvederm Ultra and Ultra Plus are often used to fill the deeper lines that run from your nose to your mouth. The thinner formulation can be used to plump lips.
- Juvéderm Vollure is used to fill lines and can add volume to thin lips.
- Juvéderm Volbella plumps lips and minimizes the vertical lines around lips. This is a very thin formulation.
The results are instantaneous with possible bruising and no down time. Depending on the type of Juvederm used, results can last anywhere from 9 months to 2 years. For more information, check out our blog post, Juvederm and hyaluronic acid fillers.
Do people like Juvederm? The Juvederm family of fillers gets a 92% "Worth It" rating on RealSelf based on 714 ratings over the last 2 years.
How much does Juvederm cost? RealSelf lists the average cost for Juvederm as $750, but the cost ranges anywhere from $200 to $1,625 based on 4,814 reviews.
All the Juvederm products are priced by the syringe. Most people need 2 syringes to start. Discounts are often given with each additional syringe purchase.
Juvederm Voluma is a hyaluronic acid filler that adds cheek volume. When we’re young, we have pockets of fat in our face that plump the forehead, temples, cheeks, and areas around the eyes and mouth. With age, that fat loses volume and shifts downward, so our features sink. Skin looks like it is sagging, but your face is actually losing volume – or deflating. Voluma takes the place of those lost fat pads. It adds volume by creating a scaffolding for the skin.
Skin Care Products for Wrinkles, Texture, & Sun Damage
Skin Care Products work beautifully, but you have to be patient while awaiting their effects. Results have been well documented with use of Vitamin A (Retinol or Retin-A), vitamins C and E. Antioxidants have been proven to have benefits. And the number of choices here can be overwhelming.
How much do skincare products cost? Prices vary by skin care line, but skin care products are one of the less expensive options for skin rejuvenation. While individual products may seem expensive, most products last 6 months, so the cost over time is greatly decreased.
Skin care products must be carefully coordinated with any sort of skin rejuvenation treatment to ensure the best outcome. For more information, read our articles, Want Younger-Looking Skin? 3 Ways Retinoids Make Skin Beautiful and Vitamins C and E for Skin.
We like the SkinCeuticals line which has gotten excellent results in clinical studies.
The good news is there are treatment options for every budget. The bad news is that there are so many options that choosing among them can feel overwhelming.
Talk to medical spas and take advantage of their free consultations. Determine a budget and how much time you can allow for recovery. RealSelf.com is a great resource. It has before and after pictures and ranks many skin rejuvenation methods according to real people’s evaluation of their results.
Amy Takken, RN
Amy Takken is a registered nurse with 20+ years of experience helping people improve their health. Her in-depth skincare articles have been featured on Nazarian Plastic Surgery and The Palm Beach Center for Facial Plastic & Laser Surgery.
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The Information provided on our website is not medical advice and should not be viewed as such. By law, only a medical doctor can diagnose or give medical advice. As a registered nurse, my goal is to educate, so I provide information on skin care, skin care products, and skin care treatments. If you have any condition that concerns you, please see a medical doctor. While most skin conditions are benign, some – like melanoma – can be deadly. If there is any doubt, please, please consult your physician. Thank you!
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