Lasers: They work by traumatizing the skin to quicken cell turnover. Best for smoothing wrinkles and fine lines, fractional laser resurfacing technology uses narrowly spaced micro-beams of energy to prompt new collagen growth. Unfortunately, for at-home use, FDA-cleared PaloVia has been withdrawn from the market. Tria’s new Age-Defying Laser and the Skin-Smoothing Laser by Iluminage Beauty are driving the anti-aging segment’s double-digit growth along with introductions from brands such as Rio and Beurer in Europe. Many young women deal with pimples and wrinkles. FDA has recently approved for acne, a smooth beam laser to be used for in-office treatment. A gentle burst of light selectively targets oil glands, heating them and altering their structure to stem production of blemishes. Each treatment costs $500; several sessions are needed to terminate breakouts.
LED (Light Emitting Diode) Therapy: This anti-aging breakthrough works by targeting water layers on elastin. The most common is red LED, which is best for wrinkle repair, while blue is best for acne. Other LED types include infrared, yellow and amber. LED effects are cumulative and reward those willing to put in time for regular use. It calms rosacea, plumps skin and smoothens wrinkles. For at-home use, there’s the FDA-cleared Baby Quasar Plus ($399). Red and blue LED lights are incorporated into the FDA-cleared Truth Vitality Lux Renew ($299) that also features ultrasound.
In 2014, one of the most unique launches came from newcomer La Lumiere with its illuMask brand of wearable LED light masks. It is available in two varieties: Anti-Acne and Anti-Aging, and has an affordable $29.95 price tag. IlluMask caters to the mass market, which has until now, lacked traction. Recently energy-based devices are increasingly providing technology for wrinkle treatment. Facial photo-rejuvenation is provided by NuLase from NuLase Company and Clear Touch Lite from Radiance. These light-emitting devices are safe, relatively pain free, and can provide subtle but real changes in the skin.
Microcurrent: A sub-sensory electric current delivers a pulse to facial muscles, stimulating them and surrounding tissue. It improves ATP production, the chemical in muscles that provides energy and reportedly increases elastin and collagen. The effects are cumulative and are said to be best for firming sagging skin. Truth Rejuvenate is available for at-home use. Two metal probes effectively sculpt and tone the face.
Another at-home use concept is BioBliss anti-wrinkle patches, which utilize microcurrent technology to drive peptide and hyaluronic acid into the skin. Four patches cost approximately $80.
Microdermabrasion: This form of exfoliation removes the top layer of dead skin cells and uneven thicker layers of skin. Professional machines use crystal and diamond microdermabrasion tips. It is best for fine lines and sun damage. Riiviva Microderm Device ($299) is equipped with medical grade diamond tip technology.
Microneedling: This technology uses skin’s natural recovery process to boost collagen and elastin. Dermatologists use a pin-tipped wand to poke tiny holes into skin, creating controlled micro-injuries. During the healing process, the damaged tissue is replaced with newer collagen which smoothes wrinkles, fades acne scars and improves skin texture. It costs about $200 per treatment session. About three to six sessions are required. At-home devices include Dermapen, Skinpen and Eclipse MicroPen.
Radio Frequency: This high frequency radio wave technology, known as Thermage, was both painful and ineffective, probably due to poor temperature control. New versions include the Pelleve Wrinkle Reduction System, which causes heat to build up where the skin and fat layer come together. Enough heat is required to cause a process called denaturation, where collagen fibers contract and they start stimulating new collagen to improve sagging skin. The operating temperature must reach 41°C for denaturation to take place At-home devices include Silk’N FaceFX and Dermawand.
Ultrasonic: As these high frequency (800,000-2,000,000Hz) sound waves enter the skin, they cause vibration of the surrounding tissue, particularly those that contain collagen generating heat within the tissue. This heat does not become very intense. The temperature rise in surrounding tissue increases oxygen to the cells and aids in waste removal. The skin feels instantly energized, rosy and firm. Dermatologists use Ulthera, which is said to be best for firming and lifting skin.
For at-home use try Truth Vitality Lux Renew ($279), which is FDA-cleared for the treatment of facial wrinkles and acne. This hand-held device combines ultrasound technology with red and blue LED light therapy. But for best results, try Ultherapy, a procedure that sends ultrasound waves deep into skin to stimulate collagen production and tighten connective tissue. Only one, $3,000 treatment is needed. This procedure is a bit painful but results last for years.
FDA does not censor device maker ads as long as they do not make medical claims. FDA sanctions at-home anti-aging devices for safety, not efficacy. Hence, the consumers should be skeptical of promises. Yet, at-home versions of anti-aging devices are effective due to the proven technology that they use. They are attractive because they cost less than professional treatments. High flyers and those with demanding jobs that keep them in the public eye are the most frequent customers in this category. Basic anti-aging remedies can only do so much; for the deepest wrinkles and facial sagging, it’s off to the plastic surgeon.
A final word to the wise: many treatments are so new that long-term effects are not known.
Navin M. Geria
Senior Technical Advisor and Principal Doctors Skin Prescription
Navin Geria, ex-Pfizer Research Fellow, is senior technical advisor and principal of the dermatological research company, Doctors Skin Prescription (DSP), Boston, founded by dermatologist David J. Goldberg, MD JD and plastic surgeons William P. Adams, MD FACS and Jason Pozner, MD. Geria has more than 30 years of experience in the personal care industry and was previously with Clairol, Warner-Lambert, Schick, Bristol-Myers and most recently, Spa Dermaceuticals. He has earned nearly 20 US patents, has been published extensively and has been both a speaker and a moderator at cosmetic industry events. www.dspskincare.com