Dr. David Goldberg maneuvers the hand piece around Jennifer Fojtlin's face like he's playing a bizarre sort of video game. The machine beeps, and he moves the little gun-like device to the next spot. This, of course, is not a game, Goldberg reminds observers. But it hardly seems like a medical procedure, either.
Goldberg is performing eMatrix, a radio frequency technology treatment that helps rejuvenate skin and eliminate acne scars and some wrinkles. It works well for all skin colors, while earlier technologies had trouble with darker tones and even tanned skin like Fojtlin's.
"He [Goldberg] suggested other things, but this had the least downtime," says Fojtlin, who was hoping to remove acne scars.
The Warwick, N.Y., resident is far from alone in choosing a nonsurgical, non-invasive cosmetic procedure that doesn't resemble the complex, painful and disruptive ways of the past.
"There's a huge drop in the amount of surgical procedures people are undergoing and a huge increase in the number of non-surgical cosmetic procedures," says Goldberg, a cosmetic dermatologist and the director of the Skin Laser & Surgery Specialists of New York and New Jersey, which has a Hackensack office.
"Between the economy and the fact that surgical procedures always cost more, the availability of technology and the ability to do a treatment and go back to work, it's logical people want these treatments."
Dermatologist Jeffrey Rapaport, medical director and founder of the Cosmetic Skin and Surgical Center in Englewood Cliffs, agrees that non-surgical cosmetic procedures are on the rise because of the economy and lack of downtime following the procedure. He adds that even people who can afford the surgical procedures and the subsequent time off from work to recover have been staying away lately.
"The combination of not wanting to take time off and not wanting to look like an exaggerated consumer, people are going much more to non-invasive, non-surgical, non-downtime things," says Rapaport.
Eighty-three percent of all procedures in cosmetic plastic surgeons' offices in 2010 were non-surgical, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery — and the American Society of Cosmetic Dermatology and Aesthetic Surgery reports a similar trend. Almost 8 million non-surgical cosmetic procedures were done last year at a cost of $4.1 billion.
People looking to jump on the bandwagon have plenty of options, and more seem to pop up every day. As in most areas of medicine, different doctors prefer and perform different methods, and each patient's expectations and pain tolerance are different, making each experience unique.
Facing the future
Combined, Rapaport and Goldberg have more than 50 years' experience. Both concede that no single machine can do everything and not all technologies are what they claim to be. But procedures are leaps and bounds better than they once were. Give it a little time, and there will be more options, new technologies and treatments for those looking to improve their appearance without an incision — or even inconvenience.
Barely 10 minutes after Goldberg started, Fojtlin is done, getting a little Vaseline on her face and headed out the door. She is a bit red, but nothing is very noticeable. She can put on makeup immediately (and plans to head directly to the ladies room to do so). The end result is still unknown, but at the moment, she is happy with her choice — it didn't hurt, and she's quickly off to continue her day.
Here are a few of the newer non-surgical, non-invasive cosmetic procedures with no downtime:
The Price of Beauty
The basics: Radio frequency device is used to eliminate acne scars, deeper sun damage and wrinkles.
Used on: Face; stretch marks elsewhere on the body
Approximate cost: $500 to $1,000 per treatment
The basics: Radio frequency device is used to tighten the skin and dissolve fat.
Used on: Mostly face, jowls and neck, but can be done anywhere on the body.
Approximate cost: $400 per treatment
The basics: Cooling treatment freezes fat away.
Used on: Abdominal and flank flab ("love handles")
Approximate cost: $1,400 to $1,800 per treatment
— Kara Yorio
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