Plagued by less than taut skin but don’t want to go the surgical route? From your face and your neck to your stomach and beyond, loose skin can be treated nonsurgically with skin-tightening devices, which offer real results—in record time—making them totally worth the expense. "Skin tighteners are safe for all skin types and colors. They are not long procedures—30 minutes at most. And, when used on the face, they tighten skin in a way that is really natural," says Montclair, NJ dermatologist Jeanine B. Downie, MD.
With a handful of options to choose from, skin-tightening machines, make use of radio-frequency or ultrasound energy, infrared light or direct heat to tighten skin from the inside out. With each treatment (six to eight every one to two weeks are needed, as well as annual maintenance treatments; if you have your doctor perform it rather than a physician’s assistant you’ll drive the cost up), the skin tightens as new collagen grows via the energy source that was emitted.
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For the best results, you need to have some loose skin but firm muscles. It can take three to six months for the results to appear. “You can’t beat the results you get for the price without having to undergo anesthesia and a recovery period,” says Dr. Downie. “Skin tighteners are virtually pain- and downtime-free,” says Beverly Hills, CA, dermatologist Rhonda Rand, MD. “It’s a great option for someone who doesn’t want to spend what surgery costs or isn’t ready for surgery but wants to fix the laxity,” adds Carmel, IN, plastic surgeon Janet K. Turkle, MD.
While they don't produce the same results as a facelift, skin tighteners (most machines are not first-generation and major research dollars have gone into fine-tuning them) do have a better price. (Facelifts can run from $7,000 to $15,000.) “A skin tightener isn’t even in the same ballpark price- wise. There’s no downtime and next to no risk. You can’t even put a price tag on that,” says Dr. Rand. However, they do not produce the same results as a facelift.