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Look younger without going under the knife

Last year Americans spent more than 40 billion dollars on anti-aging products, while nearly nine million people underwent age-reversing plastic surgery. But what if we could repair our skin, diminish wrinkles and even out skin color without going under the knife? In the continuing series, “About Face: Look Younger Without Plastic Surgery,” “Weekend Today” explores the latest technologies i
/ Source: Weekend Today

Last year Americans spent more than 40 billion dollars on anti-aging products, while nearly nine million people underwent age-reversing plastic surgery. But what if we could repair our skin, diminish wrinkles and even out skin color without going under the knife? In the continuing series, “About Face: Look Younger Without Plastic Surgery,” “Weekend Today” explores the latest technologies in the anti-aging industry.

Did you know that you control 70 percent of your aging process? Susan West Kurz, author of “Awakening Beauty,” says eating the wrong foods can spike the aging process and eating the right foods can slow it down. Here's the good and the bad:

Fruits and vegetables

Fruits and vegetables, especially those with dark colors, are loaded with antioxidants that save your cells from premature aging. Eat 3-5 servings per day of these fruits and vegetables: prunes, raisins, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, plums, brussel sprouts, kale, broccoli, spinach.

  • Blueberries, cranberries, strawberries, raspberries, prunes, raisins: They are all loaded with antioxidants that save your cells from premature aging. Blueberries, for example, have more antioxidants — called anthocyanins — than any other food, three times more than the second richest sources: red wine and green tea. In one study, older people who eat strawberries had the lowest rate of all kinds of cancer. Berries are particularly rich in antioxidant vitamin C, an overall youth potion.
  • Broccoli, kale, spinach, brussel sprouts: Broccoli and spinach are packed with free radical fighters, vitamin C, betacarotene, querectin, indoles, glutathione and lutein. Broccoli is one of the richest food sources of the trace metal chromium, a life extender and protector against the ravages of out-of control insulin and blood sugar.

    In women, broccoli helps the body get rid of the harmful type of estrogen that promotes cancer. Broccoli eaters also have less colon and lung cancer and cardiovascular disease. It's even been linked to longer survival in lung cancer patients.

Whole grains

Whole grains not only have antioxidants, but are also a great source for vitamins, minerals, proteins, and fiber. Whole grains like spelt, bulgar and quinoa can reduce cholesterol and high blood pressure and even help prevent heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

Examples of whole grains:

  • brown rice
  • quinoa
  • millet
  • barley
  • bowl of cooked oatmeal

Servings per day: the USDA just recently recommended eating at least three servings a day.

Whole grains help flush fat and cholesterol out of your system and provide powerful antioxidants that help you stay healthier, look younger and live longer. Whole grains are an insoluble fiber — they pull the water out of the food and bind to other “unhealthy” foods you are eating.

Green tea

Green tea contains the super-antioxidant EGCG, which prevents and even reverses inflammation and the effects of oxidation — the underlying cause of aging — skin damage, scarring, and wrinkling. Research has shown that people in Eastern culture consume about four cups a day, and have reduced incidence of heart disease and cancer.

Coffee vs. green tea

Coffee has organic acids that raise your blood sugar and insulin. Insulin puts a lock on body fat. When you switch over to green tea, you will drop your insulin levels, and body fat will fall very rapidly. Green tea has about half as much caffeine as coffee.


A fruit, vegetable or food that is labeled “organic” means it has undergone minimal processing, is free of synthetic chemicals, has no genetically-modified organisms, no animal testing, is free of synthetic fragrances, colors and dyes, and all raw materials are derived from nature. If a food product is organic, there are no poisons to initiate oxidation and inflammation.

Healthy fats

Healthy fats not only reduce oxidation, but inflammation as well. They are very important to your skin's aging process.

Examples of healthy fats:

  • salmon
  • flaxseeds
  • olives and olive oil
  • nuts and seeds
  • safflower oil
  • sesame oil

Servings per day: healthy fats should make up 30% of your dietary intake. Meaning: if you are on a 2,000 calorie a day diet, your healthy fat intake should be between 400-600 calories.

Fat is one of the big three nutrients, along with carbohydrate and protein. We need it as an important energy source. It also is a carrier for the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K as well as being important for normal body cell function.

Foods to avoid

Foods that will speed up the aging process:

  • saturated fats found in red meats
  • trans fats found in donuts, pastries, muffins
  • hydrogenated oils: fast foods like Big Macs, fries, fried chicken

Dr. Debra Wattenberg breaks down the three different categories of anti-aging creams, and explains whether they really work.

Faux Botox creams

Instead of having Botox injections, many women (and men) are turning to “Botox in a bottle” or “faux-tox.” The claim is that the cream will work just as well as the Botox injections. The makers of the various products below insist “faux-tox” is safe because it does not use the key ingredient of Botox injections — a diluted strain of deadly botulinium toxin.

The makers of “faux-tox” creams say they work by simply locking moisture beneath the skin's surface, making it appear plumper.

Freeze 24/7

Freeze 24/7 is the latest product on the market. The manufacturers of Freeze 24/7 do not use botulism, but instead use the active ingredient “gaba” (gamma-amino butyric acid) — a muscle relaxant that is produced naturally in the body. The manufacturers compare “gaba” to melatonin (melatonin is produced as the body's natural sleep-inducing agent). “Gaba” works to help diminish the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles on the facial area quickly, safely, and effectively with no side effects — just results. Freeze 24/7 says 100% of the study respondents experienced a 50-90% visible reduction in the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles within 10 minutes of a single application.

1 oz. jar = $115

DDF Wrinkle Relax

DDF Wrinkle Relax is another anti-aging cream. It is a combination of two non-toxic anti-aging peptides chemically combined from naturally derived amino acids. Its main ingredient is argireline magnesium ascorbyl (collagen builder) and hyaluronate shea butter. DDF Wrinkle Relax claims to help prevent fine lines induced by repeated facial movements without the loss of expression. Increases collagen and elastin production. Helps prevent premature aging. Visible results within two weeks.

5 oz. jar = $80


Strivectin is the product that started the whole “better than Botox” craze. Strivectin was originally touted for its ability to visibly reduce the depth, length, discoloration and roughness of existing stretch marks. It's only when women in clinical studies started putting the cream on their face that they saw some of their facial lines diminish. Strivectin claims to: decrease the depth of indentations in the skin, increase stimulation of collagen synthesis, correct skin coloration irregularities, increase the smoothness, thickness and firmness of the skin. Strivectin SD uses a combination of agents, elasticizers, and skin hydrators, all designed to address every issue of stretch mark repair.

6 oz. jar = $135


Hydroderm is a patented collagen infusion delivery system developed over the last several years by scientists. The manufacturers of Hydroderm say that by using its technology, women are now able to get collagen molecules directly to the skin. Hydroderm claims to: decrease fine lines and wrinkles, deliver whole collagen to the skin, and boost skin's natural glow, tone and texture. In addition to the patented collagen infusion delivery system, hydroderm contains the collagen-promoting power of matrixyl 3000 peptides, which work to significantly reduce the appearance of wrinkle depth and density, and skin promote smoothing. Its key ingredients are “matrixyl 3000” peptides, which reduce the appearance of wrinkles by 45%. A user study shows matrixyl 3000 fights the appearance of wrinkles with: 45% reduction in the area occupied by deep wrinkles, 15% reduction in the mean depth of the main wrinkle, 18% reduction in complexity.

Hydroderm Wrinkle Reduction System = $79

Olay Regenerist

Olay Regenerist claims to regenerate skin's appearance, without irritation, by renewing its outer layer one cell at a time. The result is skin that looks, feels, and behaves more like new skin. This next generation line of three products — a serum, cream, and lotion — helps improve the skin's moisture barrier and renew its outer layer to reduce the appearance of wrinkles, delivering optimal skin health.

1.7 oz. = $18.99

Antioxidants & topical vitamin creams

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is an antioxidant nutrient that helps recycle Vitamin E. It also promotes collagen formation. It claims to repair and protect skin by stimulating cell renewal and increasing healthy circulation.

The facts

Topical vitamin C may reduce wrinkles, thicken skin and protect against sun damage. It's difficult to manufacture and degrades rapidly, however, so it must be stored in airtight, light-resistant containers. Many of the first vitamin C products couldn't penetrate the skin deeply enough to be effective, but newer products may be more absorbent. Side effects may include stinging and irritation. Larger studies are needed to prove whether topical vitamin C can reduce wrinkles.


  • MD Skin Care Aging cream, $58
  • Skinmedica Vitamin C Complex, $76
  • Avalon Organics Vitamin C Renewal facial cream, $19.95

Vitamin E

Vitamin E, an antioxidant nutrient, is the major antioxidant found in human skin. Declining levels in skin are associated with wrinkles.

The claim

Neutralizes free radicals for a soft, smooth, radiant complexion

The facts

Animal studies show that topical vitamin E may reduce wrinkling. One of the few human studies shows a slight reduction in wrinkling, skin roughness, length of facial lines and wrinkle depth. Side effects may include swollen, reddened and itchy skin (contact dermatitis). Tocopherols and tocopherol acetate are the most common forms of vitamin E found in cosmetics, but they may be poorly absorbed by skin. More research is needed to determine if vitamin E reduces wrinkles effectively by itself or in combination with other antioxidants.


  • Nutra-E Pure Vitamin E skin cream, $5.99
  • Nutra-E Pure Vitamin E skin oil, $7.99
  • Jason Vitamin E cream, $12

Soy isoflavones

Protein extracts of soybean and soy milk contain several different estrogen-like substances called isoflavones. Because they may mimic the effects of estrogen, they're sometimes called phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens may produce wrinkle-reducing effects on skin that are similar to those resulting from hormone therapy.

The claim

Reduce fine lines and wrinkles

The facts

Animal studies show that soy isoflavones protect skin against sun damage and may increase production of hyaluronic acid, a substance that thickens skin and reduces wrinkles by binding to water molecules in skin. A small clinical study of soy isoflavones shows that they may lighten age spots. Although oral soy isoflavones may increase the risk of some cancers, it's unknown if topical products do the same. Researchers believe that soy isoflavones may help reduce wrinkles, but caution that more human research is needed to determine their safety and effectiveness.


  • Aveeno Positively Radiant Anti-Wrinkle cream, $15.99
  • Archipelago Botanicals Milk Soy cream, $16

Prescription topical creams (recommended by Dr. Wattenberg)

The following two prescription creams (Retin-A and Renova) contain “tretinoin.” Tretinoin is most commonly used to treat acne. It works partly by keeping the skin pores clear. But now, tretinoin is also in two creams: Retin-A and Renova.


Retin-A is an acne treatment that also removes wrinkles and improves skin appearance and condition. Retin-A contains tretinoin (sometimes called retinolic acid), which is derived from vitamin A. It can reduce severe wrinkles within only 6 weeks and completely remove fine lines. Retin-A acts by improving blood supply to the skin, which in turn increases the turnover of dead skin cells. Accordingly, new more subtle and younger looking skin appears at the surface.


There are two versions of Retin-A available: the 0.05% cream, which is designed for wrinkles, and the 0.1% cream, which is designed for acne. If you have never used this product before, it is strongly recommend that you start at the lowest dosage and if necessary, work your way up slowly.


Renova is prescribed to reduce fine wrinkles, discoloration, and roughness on facial skin (as part of a comprehensive program of skin care and sun avoidance). While using Retin-A or Renova, keep exposure to sunlight, including sunlamps, to a minimum. If you have a sunburn, do not use the medication until you have fully recovered.


Tri-luma cream is the only triple-action cream approved for the short-term and intermittent long-term treatment of moderate to severe melasma. “Melasma” is a natural darkening of the skin on your face caused by excessive production of melanin, the pigment that causes your skin to tan. It is the scientific name for dark spots, sunspots or darkened patches of the face/skin. Tri-luma cream is a unique medicine because it combines three effective ingredients into a single tube — giving you a single, once-a-day product to put on your face at bedtime. The latest long-term safety studies confirm that Tri-luma cream is safe and effective when used for longer than eight weeks and repeatedly thereafter when melasma recurs.


Avage cream is an elegant formulation that has been proven to effectively reduce facial fine wrinkles and certain types of dark and light spots on your face. Avage cream contains the active ingredient tazarotene in an emollient cream formulation. Tazarotene is a retinoid, a potent prescription medication. Although scientists do not know how tazarotene works, they believe that it works below the skin's surface to provide proven visible results.

Dr. Brandith Irwin, dermatologist and author of “Your Best Face: Looking Your Best Without Plastic Surgery,” explains the hot, new product on the market that is safer, cheaper and some say better than Botox — Restylane:

What is Botox and how does it works?

The cosmetic form of botulinum toxin, often referred to by its product name Botox, is a popular non-surgical injection that temporarily reduces or eliminates frown lines, forehead creases, crows feet near the eyes and thick bands in the neck. The toxin blocks the nerve impulses, temporarily paralyzing the muscles that cause wrinkles, while giving the skin a smoother, more refreshed appearance. Studies have also suggested that Botox is effective in relieving migraine headaches, excessive sweating and muscle spasms in the neck and eyes. Botox can cost up to $750 and will only last about 3-4 months.

What is Restylane?

Restylane is a safe and natural cosmetic substance that is injected into the skin and restores volume and fullness to the skin to correct facial wrinkles and folds, such as the smile lines around your nose and mouth.

Restylane has a highly favorable safety profile. It is composed of non-animal stabilized hyaluronic acid — meaning hyaluronic acid is a substance that's found naturally in the human body. It is found in the connective tissue of the body that cushions and lubricates. Injecting hyaluronic acid lubricates the skin and also creates volume in the face, giving it a healthy, youthful appearance

Restylane maintains its shape using the body's own moisture. The hyaluronic acid in Restylane is hydrophilic or “water loving.” As hyaluronic acid gradually degrades, each molecule binds to more water and over time, the same volume can be maintained with less hyaluronic acid. This ability of hyaluronic acid to bind to water is what helps provide long-lasting results.

Restylane is proven to deliver long-lasting results, twice as long as Botox. Studies have shown that Restylane effects generally last for about six months. The unique NASHA technology helps maintain the cosmetic effect until the injected material is nearly gone.

How does Restylane work?

Restylane is injected directly into the skin in tiny amounts by an ultrafine needle, resulting in minimal discomfort. The procedure is simple and convenient and results are practically instantaneous. To optimize your comfort during the short procedure, your physician may decide to numb the treatment area.

How is Restylane different from Botox?

Restylane is a natural, cosmetic filler. Botox is a drug that blocks nerve transmission and relaxes the underlying muscles. Many patients have been very pleased after receiving treatment with both products.

pagebreakFraxel laser treatment and anti-aging productstrue

Dr. Pat Wexler, a dermatologist in New York City, explains the new non-invasive and FDA-approved laser procedure called the “fraxel”:

Fraxel laser treatment

The promise: Claims to zap away sunspots and fine lines by delivering microscopic laser hits to problem areas while simultaneously preserving healthy skin. It has all the benefits of nonablative lasers, or lasers that don't wound the skin, including minimal pain and no scarring. But it's more effective at evening out skin tone.

The reality: “Everyone I've seen try this has shown improvement,” says David McDaniel, M.D. of Eastern Virginia Medical School. Be prepared for red, swollen, peeling, and sandpaper-like skin for a couple days or so.

The numbers: Three 60-minute treatments spaced a few weeks apart. While some benefits are noticeable after the first treatment, the full effects won't kick in for several months. Results can last for a year or more. Cost: $1,500 to $2,500 per treatment.

The bottom line: An all-in-one treatment for blotchiness, sunspots, and fine lines.

Fraxel laser vs. traditional laser/chemical peel

The key difference between fraxel laser treatment and more traditional ablative methods is that fraxel does not affect all of the skin at once. Instead of a blanket surface treatment, fraxel treats pinpointed areas on the skin.

Fraxel laser treatment produces thousands of tiny but deep fractions by 400 to 700 microns — just deep enough to stimulate significant collagen regeneration.

These treated areas, known as microthermal zones, begin to regenerate collagen and the surrounding non-affected areas help to speed up the recovery session.

This treatment eliminates old epidermal pigmented cells. It also penetrates deeply into the dermis to improve imperfections such as acne scars. Just as important, though, are the areas of skin the fraxel laser leaves untouched. The fraxel laser is so precise that it penetrates the non-living, protective barrier of the skin, called the stratum corneum, as if it were a window and leaves it completely intact. For every microthermal zone the laser targets and treats intensively, it leaves the surrounding tissue unaffected and intact.

This “fractional” treatment allows the skin to heal much faster than if the entire area were treated at once, using the body's natural healing process to create new, healthy tissue to replace skin imperfections.

The results are often compared to the superior results of ablative laser peels (like CO2 laser resurfacing). Patients get the results of the laser peels, but without the uncomfortable and long healing process.

Other non-invasive over-the-counter products:

Patricia Wexler M.D. Dermatology MMPI Skin Regenerating Serum

MMPs are naturally occurring enzymes that catalyze the breakdown of collagen in the skin. MMPI actively rejuvenates skin's surface at the structural level, measurably reducing visible lines and imperfections. MMPI technology boosts skins own regenerative powers, diminishes the visible signs of aging and restores a youthful appearance by inhibiting all 20 known MMPs.

Price: $55

Availability: Bath & Body Works stores nationwide

Patricia Wexler M.D. Dermatology Exfoliating Glyco Peel System

This 3-step, 6-minute 10% glycolic acid peel safely exfoliates skin, evens skin tone, reduces signs of fine lines, and minimizes and unclogs pores. It employs peptides, alpha bisabolol and MMPI technology to rejuvenate skin's surface at the structural level.

Price: $65

Availability: Bath & Body Works stores nationwide

Patricia Wexler M.D. Dermatology Skin Brightening Daily Moisturizer SPF 30

The Skin Brightening Daily Moisturizer SPF 30 improves the appearance of age spots and discoloration by brightening the skin with MMPI and botanical brighteners such as haloxyl peptide, arbutin and vitamin C. Thus, warding off the natural breakdown of collagen and protecting the skin from environmental stressors and UV exposure.

Price: $39.95

Availability: Bath & Body Works stores nationwide

ROC Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Serum

Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Serum is clinically proven to visibly reduce deep wrinkles, smooth expression lines and diminish signs of photodamage by stimulating the skin's renewal process. The formula's patented technology combines pure ROC Retinol with magnesium, zinc, and copper to stimulate the skin's renewal process and bring newer, younger-looking skin to the surface.

Price: $19.99

Availability: Drugstores nationwide

Olay Regenerist Daily Regenerating Serum

Olay Regenerist helps regenerate skin's appearance with concentrated amino-peptides to hydrate and regenerate damaged skin.

Price: $18.99

Availability: Supermarkets and drugstores nationwide

Olay Regenerist Thermal Skin Polisher

This self-heating, exfoliating formula can be used daily to regenerate skin. It deeply warms skin's surface to relax pores and exfoliates with micro-crystals, emollients and glycolic acid to gently polish away dry skin cells.

Price: $13.49

Availability: Supermarkets and drugstores nationwide

Neutrogena Advanced Solutions at Home Microdermabrasion System

The Advanced Solutions at Home Microdermabrasion System is specially designed to provide professional level microdermabrasion results at home for skin rejuvenation. The micro-oxide crystallized cream contains the same aluminum-oxide crystals used by dermatologists and salon professionals for professional level surface cellular renewal.

Price: $37.99

Availability: Drugstores nationwide

Coppertone Sport Ultra Sweatproof/Waterproof Lotion SPF 30 and Coppertone Sport Sunblock Lotion SPF 50

These high performance UVA/UVB, ultra sweatproof sunscreens bond to the skin on contact with an ultra dry formula that doesn't leave a greasy residue. The formula is oil free, hypoallergenic, waterproof and PABA-free. Key ingredients include homosalate, octinoxate, octisalate and oxybenzone.

Price: $9.99

Availability: Drugstores nationwide

La Roche-Posay Anthelios l

Anthelios l is a maximum strength, broad spectrum UVA/UVB SPF 60 sunscreen, formulated into a cream with mexoryl XL and mexoryl SX. This patented sunscreen is designed to protect from both UVA and UVB rays in order to prevent sunburn. This formula, containing La Roche-Posay thermal spring water, also has soothing and softening properties.

Price: $30