Great skin is the foundation of looking good. Harsh chemical peels and under-the-knife surgeries are giving way to kinder and gentler treatments, and new advances in laser and light therapy offer non-intrusive alternatives for a variety of skin conditions

By Alison Garwood-Jones

Lasers and light therapy

Age spots

For those who prefer a visit to the dermatologist, there are several options for those telltale marks. Vitamin A has proven to be an effective treatment for mild age spots but for more persistent pigmentation, four to six sessions of broad spectrum white light therapy (IPL) should do the trick. Price range from $250–$600, depending on the extent of damage.

Fractional lasers like the Pixel can make the most highly pigmented spots disappear. Probably the most significant advancement with this treatment is that it’s now safe on all skin tones: white, black, Asian and Middle Eastern. Prices range from $300–$3,000, depending on how many treatments are required.

Red, irritated skin

For flushing that is persistent, but not as severe as rosacea, beauty companies, including Dermalogica, Aveeno and Origins, are turning to ingredients like soy and white tea. These extracts are gentle and effective at keeping inflammation and redness at bay, while daily use of an SPF of 15 or more has been shown to keep capillary walls strong and leak-free.

Most dermatologists treat persistent redness with a Pulsed-Dye laser, with anywhere from two to six treatments ($250–$2,500, depending on the size of the area treated). This treatment is effective for coagulating leaky blood vessels by up to 90 percent, resulting in clearer, less blotchy skin. If you have reactive skin you may want stop using exfoliators and home microdermabrasion kits as they can irritate the skin further.

Dullness

As for collagen loss—and remember, collagen loss is responsible for wrinkles and inhibits a natural glow—the best solution is not in a needle or an over-the-counter product, but a wand. Dermatologists agree that fractional laser treatments, like the Pixel, outperform injectible fillers—which are essentially space fillers—by stimulating the production of real, light-reflecting collagen (prices range from $600–$3,000, according to surface area and number of treatments required). These laser treatments can actually stimulate the creation of more collagen, thereby offering more permanent results.

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Web exclusive: October 2008

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