The battle against aging can be fought without a face lift.

Skin rejuvenation treatments, offered everywhere from plastic surgeons' offices to spas, are appealing to women who want to achieve a younger, fresher look without surgery.

"A lot of people want to avoid surgery," said Dr. Kathryn Boyse of Dermatologists of Greater Columbus. "Now, we have some great in-betweens that are going to make people say, 'Why does she look so good?' It's just you-improved, basically."

With age, skin becomes thinner and loses elasticity. A combination of genetics, sun exposure and gravity are to blame for facial wrinkles, discoloration and sagging.

A growing menu of less-invasive procedures help to reset the clock by changing the texture of skin, said Dr. Jeffrey Donaldson, who performs "no-knife" treatments such as chemical peels, microdermabrasion and laser resurfacing at his Columbus practice, Donaldson Plastic Surgery.

"As aesthetic medicine has evolved and people are more aware of their options, they are seeking treatments that have very little downtime, are affordable and are effective," Donaldson said.

Adding to the allure, he said, is less pain and less risk than traditional plastic surgery.

Donaldson's patients usually fall into one of two types. "One is the person who says, 'I can tell I'm getting older. Tell me what to do to look better.' The second has a very specific problem area that they've identified."

Most patients fall between the ages of 40 and 60, and are looking for ways to combat aging and maintain healthy skin, said Dr. Walter Bernacki of Bernacki Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. In some cases, he said, non-surgical treatments offer a temporary fix to patients considering a more permanent, surgical solution.

"The more dramatic the procedure, the more dramatic the results," Bernacki said.

There is a remedy for nearly every skin dilemma, from acne scarring to age spots.

Donaldson and other skin specialists say they prefer to tailor a mix of professional treatments and medical-grade skincare products to help each client achieve results.

"We have more ways to maintain healthy skin than we ever used to," Boyse said.

Narrowing the barrage of beauty products can be overwhelming without expert advice.

"There are a lot of creams out there," Boyse said. "And there are a lot of skincare lines (available) over-the-counter at department stores that are a great expense. People spend a lot of money trying to find the right thing. I hate to see people spend a lot of money on different products and not have it help."

But keep in mind that, even under professional care, attaining healthy skin takes time, said Erika Taylor, a clinical esthetician and owner of Erika Taylor Urban Spa Downtown. "Don't want immediate gratification," she advises. "You didn't get these lines overnight. You're not going to get rid of them in 10 days. Take your time. Find the right thing that works."

The secret to healthy, youthful-looking skin is balance, Taylor said. She recommends women invest in these three essential products: cleanser, sunscreen and eye cream.

"If you're on a budget, there's a way to do it," Taylor said. "You do not need 17 products."

Dr. Carol Clinton of Timeless Skin Solutions in Dublin said that most of her clients share realistic goals. They don't expect Clinton to shave 20 years off their appearance. They simply want to emerge from her office looking like a better version of themselves.
"There are just so many great things we can do for people to keep their skin looking fresh and not artificial," Clinton said.

DERMAPLANING
Method:
Dermaplaning exfoliates skin by having an expert use a scalpel to lightly scrape the top layer of skin from the jawline to the hairline. The scalpel's small, precise motions remove dead skin cells from the surface. Benefits extend beyond exfoliation: dermaplaning also removes fine facial hair. The procedure is not recommended for treating acne or very sensitive skin, and works best on light to medium skin tones, said Erika Taylor of Erika Taylor Urban Spa. Regular clients say it instantly smoothes and tightens their skin. "There's zero downtime, other than going home to put your makeup on," said Megan Byrne, 39, of Clintonville (shown above and, at left, having the procedure performed at Erika Taylor Urban Spa). "I get compliments on my skin all the time."
Results:
Exfoliates skin; removes unwanted facial hair
Risk:
Knicks or cuts caused by human error
Cost:
$65 and up; often combined with a chemical peel
for additional cost

CHEMICAL PEELS
Method:
Peels rejuvenate and improve the surface texture of the skin. They come in varying strengths-light, medium and deep-so they are easily customized to match a woman's skin type. "It's a nice thing to add into a skincare regimen that you have as sort of a jumpstart," said Dr. Kathryn Boyse of Dermatologists of Greater Columbus. "It's a way to get a fresh look without a lot of downtime. People can come in during the week in between errands and still go on with the rest of their afternoon." Boyse favors gylcolic acid peels, which are among the mildest of formulas. Glycolic acid softens skin, evens pigment irregularities and reduces pore size. Peels generally are more effective when used in a series, and should only be performed by a professional. "I think that in experienced hands, a chemical peel is really one of the most effective ways to treat age spots, surface irregularities and wrinkles," said Dr. Walter Bernacki of Bernacki Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.
Results:
Reduces fine lines; treats mild scarring and acne; diminishes skin discoloration; refreshes skin texture and color
Risk:
Temporary or permanent skin color change; persistent redness; scarring
Cost:
$70 to $200, depending on peel strength

LASER REJUVENATION
Method:
Lasers once required a long post-recovery period, but advancements in technology have changed that. "You don't need to have a visual reminder that you've had something done," said Dr. Carol Clinton of Timeless Skin Solutions. She routinely uses lasers to treat problems from blemishes to wrinkles. And it's not for faces alone; the procedure works on many body areas. Clinton also has used lasers to treat clients with surgical scars, such as those from breast-reduction surgery. Some of her older patients who've previously undergone face lifts have told Clinton they wish they'd had it done earlier. It should be noted that some laser treatments do require some "social downtime," generally 7 to 10 days, and are not pain-free. Boyse said the laser she uses is well-tolerated with a topical numbing agent applied 45 minutes prior to treatment. It does feel warm, and has a snapping sensation, Boyse said. The laser penetrates the skin and causes thermal damage, which stimulates collagen production.
Results:
Reduces fine lines and wrinkles; improves skin texture; evens skin tone; decreases or eliminates age spots
Risk:
Pigmentation changes (skin may turn lighter or darker)
Cost:
$700 to $2,000


MICRODERMABRASION
Method:
Performed with a crystal- or diamond-tipped wand, microdermabrasion gently removes the top layer of skin and triggers new skin growth. The exfoliating treatment is a popular choice because it improves skin's appearance and requires no recovery time. But routine maintenance is essential to achieving clear, healthy skin, said Kate Amicon, director of operations at Timeless Skin Solutions in Dublin. "People typically do it once a month and call it their monthly vacuuming," Amicon said. Her office offers a Silk Peel treatment that combines a diamond-tipped microdermabrasion wand with the infusion of customized solutions to revitalize skin. Amicon recommends the treatment before a big event. "This really will leave you refreshed."
Results:
Rejuvenates skin; improves skin tone and texture; reduces the
appearance of fine lines and large pores; produces a healthy glow
Risk:
Infections are a risk if microdermabrasion tools are not properly sanitized
Cost:
$100 and up for face; additional cost for neck and decolletage