Cellulite-blasting machines, fat-melting lasers, age-erasing injections — not so long ago, all of these things would have seemed like treatments straight out of a sci-fi novel. But, thanks to insane technological advancements in the beauty industry, all of these procedures not only exist, but are being used around the world as we speak.
“People are looking for less-surgical and less-aggressive interventions,” says Dr. Neil Sadick, an NYC dermatologist, when asked to explain why these innovative new procedures are suddenly becoming so much more common. “They want minimal downtime and cost-effective procedures that don’t interfere with their lifestyle.”
What that means is a host of new lasers, ultrasounds, LED, and high-tech ingredients are now de rigueur at your dermatologist’s office.We have the ability to do everything from sculpt our love handles and blast away cellulite to make our skin look years younger — we can even eradicate annoying problems like excessive sweating with just one simple, non-surgical treatment.
From costs and frequency, to what you can expect if you try them, read on for the full, expert scoop on these next-gen beauty treatments. Oh, brave new world, indeed.
Body Sculpting & Cellulite Reduction
The very first non-invasive fat removal treatment that uses radio frequencies, TruSculpt heats tissue by electric currents with a very high frequency. As Dr. Sadick explains, this means it can heat the fat layer without damaging the skin layers above, resulting in high efficacy and very low pain. “The fat cells are disrupted by this heat, and your body then absorbs the fat and disposes of it naturally over a period of two to three months,” he says. According to Sadick, this treatment can be used on any areas of fat on your body that are “pinchable,” and it’s a great option for those with areas of fat that no amount of exercise or diet has been able to reduce. The treatment takes about 40 minutes and consists of the doctor holding the radio frequency probes against the sections being treated. Dr. Sadick says you will need two or three treatments over the course of two months in order to see best results, and that the cost per treatment is usually around $1,500.
One of the major issues with cellulite is that it’s not just about getting rid of fat cells — you also have to address the breakdown of the connective tissue in the skin that caused the cellulite to happen in the first place, otherwise it will just keep coming back. “Cellactor is the first in a generation of shock wave technology for body tightening and cellulite improvement,” says Dr. Sadick. “It blasts the fat cells with shock waves and shakes up the skin cells, so that they create new collagen for improved contour.” You’ll need a total of five or six treatments over a course of six weeks, with each session costing around $600 a pop. Dr. Sadick says there is no pain with this treatment and absolutely no down time.
There’s been a lot of buzz lately around this particular treatment, which has seen increased popularity in Europe and just recently received FDA approval in the U.S. It uses focused ultrasound to flat-out destroy fat cells, heating them up to the point that they “melt” and are disposed of as waste by the body. Dr. Sadick says this treatment can reduce a patient’s waistline by one inch after just one treatment. He notes that patients must pass a screening that shows they have at least 2.5 cm of tissue and a BMI below 30. The treatment takes about 30 minutes and costs $1,500 for one session. Dr. Sadick says you can expect some mild side effects (prolonged tenderness, lumps, and some pain), but that you will see an average circumferential reduction of four or five centimeters after treatment of the abdomen and waist.
Cellulite and sculpting aren’t the only treatments available for the body. There are also new technologies that can address everything from excessive sweating to uneven skin tone.
In the fight against melanoma, MelaFind might just be your dermatologist’s new best friend. Traditionally, doctors would need to biopsy suspicious moles to assess if they might be cancerous. “With this new imaging device, we now have a way to assess moles and the probability of whether they are skin cancer without doing a biopsy,” says Dr. Sadick. The device does not, however, identify the abnormal moles in the first place, notes Dr. Julie Karen, a spokesperson for the Skin Cancer Foundation. “It is an amazing device in its ability to process lesions and determine if it is melanoma, but it does not replace your doctor’s initial examination,” she says. Translation: Your doctor needs to first identify a suspect mole and use the device on it to determine if it is melanoma — the machine does not scan your entire body and find melanomas. The device isn’t currently offered in a large number of doctor’s offices, scans cost about $150 per patient to screen their moles, and it should be done once a year at your annual skin check. That said, both Dr. Sadick and Dr. Karen agree that MelaFind is a very helpful device for patients that have “tons” of atypical moles, as it means a potential reduction in the amount of biopsies that person will have to undergo.
Vargas Healing Bed
LED treatments — using red and near infrared light — have been on the market for quite some time, but celebrity aesthetician Joanna Vargas is the first person to take the LED concept and create a full-body experience. “Studies have shown that LED light builds collagen in quantifiable percentages, brings down inflammation, corrects damage to the surface of the skin, and speeds up the body’s healing process,” she says. Her Healing Bed is a full-body treatment (it looks a bit like a tanning bed) lined with panels of red and near-infrared lights. Clients strip down and lay in the bed for 20 minutes, then get dressed and head on their merry ways. After a series of 12 sessions, once a month, Vargas says the bed will provide “amazing” results, including a reduction in stretch marks and cellulite, firmer skin, reduced acne scars and fine lines, smaller pores, stronger skin, and less visible sun damage. Currently, the treatment is only available at her salon (with each session costing $150, or $225 for her signature Sleeping Beauty Treatment — which includes microdermabrasion beforehand and a pure oxygen treatment afterwards), but Vargas believes in her treatment so much, she’s applied for (and, just recently, been granted) a patent on the bed. She plans to start selling the bed to other spas and aestheticians, meaning more Healing Beds will start popping up nationwide in as little as six months.
Excessive sweating may not seem like something worthy of a high-priced dermatological device, but for anyone who has ever suffered from it, the new MiraDry treatment might just be the sweat-free savior they’ve been looking for. “It uses microwave thermal energy to destroy sweat glands,” explains Dr. David Goldberg, an NYC dermatologist and director of the Skin Laser & Surgery Specialists of NY & NJ. The treatment is done in two parts, about three months apart, and costs around $2,500 total. That may seem steep, until you look a little more closely at the cost of Botox, the traditional treatment of choice: “Botox costs about $2,000 per injection for the armpit, and only lasts about six months. In 90 percent of MiraDry patients, we’ve seen it last at least two years in long-term sweat reduction,” says Dr. Goldberg.
Your body shouldn’t have all the high-tech fun — there are plenty of new ways to rejuvenate and refresh your face, as well, including new advancements in topical treatments and a sci-fi way to reduce wrinkles.
Another ultrasound superstar, Ulthera uses focused ultrasound to heat up the dermis and tighten collagen bundles. “By bypassing the skin’s surface and heating the dermis directly,” says Dr. Sadick, “your body reacts by building new collagen.” This results in tightened skin and a reduction in wrinkles, making it a great treatment for neck lifts, sagging breasts, and jowls, says Dr. Sadick. You only need one treatment to see results, and that will cost you anywhere from $2,500 to $4,000, depending on the area treated.
The Madonna Lift
Named after you-know-who, a reported fan, the Madonna Lift helps eradicate dark circles, hollowing, and wrinkling around the eye area. It’s a combination of a second-generation CO2 resurfacing laser (a.k.a. Fraxel) in conjunction with PRP — the “vampire facial,” which consists of withdrawing a patient’s blood, running it through a centrifuge, and then injecting it back into the patient in the areas with issues he or she wants to address. “This is the first time without surgery that we can create an improvement in discoloration and laxity lines around the eyes,” says Dr. Sadick. You’ll need a total of two or three treatments over the course of six weeks, and each treatment costs about $1,500. Sadick says you can expect some redness and a bit of micro-bruising after each treatment.
“Pyratine is a new anti-inflammatory ingredient in skin-care products that has amazing capabilities to reduce pigmentation and inflammation,” says Dr. Sadick. Developed by the same people who created kinetin, pyratine has shown significant promise in being able to reduce redness caused by rosacea or flushing symptoms — something that used to only be able to be achieved by using IPL or a skin laser. Dr. Sadick says it’s currently only being used in physicians’ skin care lines, but that it should start trickling into the general beauty market in the next year.
Last but not least, your crowning glory — your hair. Just because it’s dead, doesn’t mean it can benefit from a little high-tech love, right?
Hair color is notorious for having a very short lifespan, fading and turning brassy very quickly after it’s applied. Most in-salon treatments try to prevent fading by acting on the surface of the hair, creating a protective film around the hair fiber. The problem with this method, says Dave Shablesky, curriculum development manager for L’Oréal Professionnel, is that frequent shampooing can alter this protective film and allow the color molecule to escape outside of the fiber, which causes fading. “L’Oréal Professionnel’s new Cristalceutic treatment is the first product of its kind to interact with the color molecule itself,” says Shablesky. “It uses a glucomineral technology — glucose and zinc — which work together in a positively charged formula to attract the negatively charged hair color molecule deep within the hair fiber.” According to the brand, this “crystallizes” the color molecule, locking it into the hair fiber and preventing fading for longer-lasting hair color results. The treatment is done at the time of the color service, in order to receive the optimum benefits, says L’Oréal Professionnel artist and owner of Muse Salon, Daniel Jones. After your hair is colored, your stylist will apply a mask on the mid-lengths and ends of your towel-dried hair. After five minutes, he or she will rinse out the mask and towel-dry your hair again, then apply four to six pumps of the Cristalceutic Serum Spray, massaging it into the hair to create a protective layer before the blow-dry service.
Illustrations by Zhang Qingyun
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