Let’s talk frankly about our looks?

They shouldn’t matter right? We’ve “earned” each line, wrinkle, and brown spot we have. We’d NEVER use Botox or fillers. We want to age naturally. RIGHT?

Well that may be true for some, but the numbers don’t lie.

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, 2013 saw 13,447,933 minimally invasive procedures performed in the United States. Total spent on cosmetic procedures in the US during this time was $12,631,581,051. (Billion with a B)

Jackie Bernardi-Cosmetic Procedure spend 2013

So, for those who are still “pretending” that our looks don’t matter, here are 5 minimally invasive cosmetic procedure that provide amazing results without the use of anesthesia or a knife.


Microdermabrasion $75-$150 per treatment

Microdermabrasion is an effective surface exfoliating technique when used on a frequent basis. It is the least invasive, and least expensive of all minimally invasive treatments.

Microdermabrasion is not a product, but a tool that fits in the hand, and looks like a pen. The hand piece of the microdermabrasion machine is connected to a pump, and sprays out crystals on to the surface of the skin. The crystals lightly abrade the skin, pulling up dead skin cells, evening out the texture, and allowing for better product penetration.

The wonderful aspects of microdermabrasion are that there are virtually no side affects, there’s no down time, and it can be used in conjunction with other cosmetic procedures for glowing results. In fact, microdermabrasion is an excellent technique for preparing the skin for chemical peels.

If you are younger and have only mild skin irregularities, or fine lines, microdermabrasion may be all that you need.


Chemical Peels $75-$250 per treatment

Chemical peels have the ability to make a dramatic change in the quality and texture of your skin in just a matter of days. Light to medium strength peels are inexpensive and require very little time to receive—just 30 minutes for the treatment and 5 or 6 days of peeling (a little like the peeling you used to get as a kid after too much sun at the shore).

There are many different types and strengths of chemical peel available, but for the purpose of this post, I am only going to discuss light to medium strength peels. Deep peels are very invasive, and require a long recovery time, often with round the clock medical attention. In recent years, this type of peel has become less popular as light to medium strength peels have proven to be enormously successful without the downtime and complications.

The purpose of all chemical peels is to remove the dead and damaged layers of skin, creating a natural wound healing response, which enables the skin to generate new, healthy cells.

A chemical peel almost always is a deeper exfoliation than a scrub, microdermabrasion and enzyme peels. Chemical peels should only be performed by well-trained, experienced professionals.

When recommending a chemical peel protocol, your doctor or esthetician will take several factors into consideration before determining what type of peel (if any) is appropriate for your skin, and desired outcome.

Factors that will be considered are color of skin, condition of skin, allergies, sensitivity, medications you are currently using, and past procedures.

The following are the most commonly used light to medium chemical peels today. You can learn more about each one here.

  • Alpha Hydroxy Acid
  • Beta Hydroxy Acid
  • Retinoic Acid Peel
  • TCA (Trichloracetic acid) Peel
  • Jessner’s (modified Jessner’s) Peel
  • Alpha Hydroxy Acid Peels


IPL or Photo Facial $400-$800 per treatment

Woman undergoing laser skin treatmentIntense pulsed light (IPL), sometimes referred to as “Photo Facial” uses high-intensity pulses of light that penetrate the skin. Doctors typically recommend several treatments spaced three weeks apart for optimal success.

IPL is extremely effective in “lifting” brown spots, fine lines, wrinkles and broken capillaries. You might be surprised by what difference your skin can look like if you get rid of even the tiniest of broken capillaries that tend to show up in our 40’s.

What makes this a favorable treatment option is that IPL treatments are quick and non-invasive. When a doctor, or well-trained nurse/technician performs the procedure, the result can be the overall improvement of the skin’s tone, and reduction in facial redness, resulting in a more luminous, younger looking skin. The great news is that patients can see dramatic results within a very short period of time—with no downtime, or interruption of routine activities.

The treatment itself is performed in your physician’s office, and does not take very long. After applying a topical anesthetic to the treatment area, a gel is applied and a glass prism is placed over the treatment area.

Pulses of intense light will be flashed through the prism, directed at specific areas. When complete, the area that was treated may be slightly red with a bit of inflammation, or swelling.

Just like any other cosmetic treatment, IPL is not intended for everyone. If your body’s ability to heal wounds easily is challenged like with some diabetics, or you scar easily, IPL might not be an option for you.

Side note: It is VERY important to wear a broad spectrum sunscreen daily when you have had the IPL treatment.


BOTOX® Cosmetic $9-$20 per unit

Box of botoxBotox is the gateway treatment into more invasive cosmetic procedures. We all have heard of it, many of us refer to it whenever cosmetic treatments are discussed (like Kleenex), but do you really know anything about it?

First, it’s important to know that Botox is a brand name, actually, it’s BOTOX® Cosmetic to be specific. What it really is is a protein produced by a bacterium which can relax muscles. There are other brands, but Botox has the lion’s share of patients.

It has only been used cosmetically for the past 15 years when two eye doctors noticed that patients being treated with Botox for different eye ailments seemed to be losing their fine lines and wrinkles in the treatment area.

In 2002, Botox received clearance by the Food and Drug Administartion (FDA) for the treatment of glabellar, or “frown” lines, between the eyes. It has since also received FDA approval for the treatment of hyperhidrosis, or excessive sweating (and it really works!).

Botox treatments consist of a series of quick, tiny injections. Most treatments take less than 15 minutes, and there is no downtime. You can return to your daily routine immediately, although you should avoid heavy physical exercise and lying down flat for at least 4 hours.

Botox is a safe and effective treatment when used in accordance with FDA-approved procedures, however all minimally invasive procedures can have side effects, and for Botox, the most common one is over-use by the treatment provider. A little Botox can be a good thing. A lot of Botox can make your eyes droop, or worse, could immobilize your lips.

Make absolutely certain that your doctor, or nurse who is doing the procedure REALLY knows what they are doing.


Jackie Bernardi - Botox Hot Tip


Botox will take a few days to really start working, and you can expect it to last up to 4 months. Follow-up treatments are then need to keep wrinkles at bay. Some evidence suggests that repeated treatments extend the time that Botox stays effective.


Dermal Fillers $250 to $2500 per syringe

Injectable dermal fillers can give you a more youthful look for a fraction of what a traditional face lift costs. Most will fill lines and wrinkles in less than 30 minutes with results that can last from four months to more than a year.

Injectable fillers, unlike Botox, fill the line or crease with one of several different substances. As a result, the line or crease seems to have nearly disappeared.

Fillers can also be used as “volumizers,” plumping and lifting cheeks, filling out thin lips, and plumping sagging hands.

The treatment is fast and easy, with some discomfort. Fortunately, most brands of dermal fillers now include Lidocaine in the syringe to numb the area immediately.

There are several types of fillers, each resulting in something different.

Hyaluronic dermal fillers give structure beneath lax skin. Brands include Juvederm Ultra & Juvederm Ultra Plus and can last up to 1 year.

Synthetic dermal Fillers like Radiesse and Radiance are thicker, more substantial fillers and can last up to 18 months

Collagen fillers tend to look more natural, but only last for a short time, about 6 to 9 months. Brands include Cosmoplast/Cosmoderm

Autologous Fillers are made (usually) of your body’s own fat. Because the fillers come from your body, these injections do not require FDA approval. The length of time that these will last will be wildly different for every patient.

Jackie Bernardi-Dermal Fillers


Who should do my procedure?

There are many things to take into consideration when looking for someone to perform minimally invasive procedures like the ones discussed above.

Even though some of these procedures are offered at salons and spas, the only place I would have them done on me would be at a doctor’s office. To be more specific, a board certified Plastic Surgeon’s or Cosmetic Dermatologist’s office.

Here’s why. Their business and reputation are built on successful outcomes in the field of personal appearance, and (super important) you are likely to be in a much more sanitary environment.

Yes, you can get Botox injection from your Dentist, but why on earth would you do that? Same with using coupons for cosmetic procedures…this is your face we are talking about.

I hope that the information in this post has shed some light on some effective procedures that are minimally invasive, and very effective.


What are your thoughts on cosmetic procedures? Tell me in the comments below.

Jackie Bernardi