While many people have no issue with injections and even plastic surgery, there are plenty of others who want better skin without anything invasive. The good news is there are more non-invasive options than ever for treating the skin’s epidermal, dermis and subcutaneous layers. These can tighten, brighten, boost collagen production, remove sun damage, tackle fine lines and wrinkles and lead to a refreshed, rejuvenated appearance – with minimal downtime.
1. Fotana 4D facelift
This non-surgical procedure works to improve most of the visible signs of ageing, including sagging, wrinkling and age spots. It is now being offered by the UAE skincare expert Rebecca Treston at Al Thanya branch of Dubai London Clinic.
The Fotana 4D facelift works owing to what is called an extended pulse duration, explains Treston. That enables it to reach deeper layers, causing controlled injuries that work to restore and enhance collagen production, without damaging the skin surface or any surrounding tissue.
The Fotana 4D treatment has four different elements: an infrared light for inside the cheeks and on the inner lips; a mode for the outer cheek and jowl area; one for controlled deep-tissue heating and another for a light facial peel. The entire process takes about an hour. Pain from this treatment is minimal and it results in several days of downtime.
Treston can customise treatments, too, using other technology to address different issues, such as removing stubborn sun spots. She advises several sessions. Each last about an hour and start at Dh4,000.
Treston also offers Ultherapy, which uses ultrasound to heat the tissue under the skin, stimulating the production of collagen.
Ultherapy lifts, tightens and rejuvenates visibly. Results can be seen immediately, with no downtime, and over a period of two to three months. However it is painful, feeling like a series of sharp needles to the face. The procedure starts from Dh1,500 for the eyebrow area and rises to Dh15,000 for the full face and neck.
3. Mesotherapy and microneedling
Mesotherapy involves injecting vitamins, minerals and amino acids under the skin to enhance the surface. This is done with microneedling, which creates a series of fine traumas in the skin with a roller, to enhance collagen production.
The treatment is used to address a variety of issues, including pigmentation, fine wrinkles and age spots, says Dr Cherry Ezzat, a functional medical and anti-ageing specialist at the new Dermalase Clinic at Boxpark, Al Wasl Road, Dubai. Prices for mesotherapy vary, depending on how many treatments are required, but tend to start at Dh900. Downtime is minimal, from several hours up to a day.
Platelet-rich plasma application – also known as the "vampire facial" – is certainly trendy. But it works, explains Dr Ezzat, because it uses the body's own platelets, which are part of the human wound-healing arsenal, to enhance collagen production and plump the skin.
"That will work on deep wrinkles and it helps as well in rejuvenation of the skin," Dr Ezzat says.
The procedure involves drawing a small amount of blood, using a centrifuge to pull out the platelet-containing plasma, and then injecting it back into sites on the face, neck, decollete and even hands. Prices vary, as the treatment is customised for each patient, but tend to start at about Dh1,000. Downtime is about 24 hours.
5. The thread lift
When The Goop Lab hit Netflix earlier this year, one segment showed Goop's vice president of marketing Wendy Lauria getting what's known as a "thread lift".
After injecting local anaesthetic into her face, a plastic surgeon sewed strings just under the skin, up across her cheeks, creating a slight lift. Lauria was left with some puckering, which was gone by the next time the audience saw her, looking refreshed.
At the London Centre for Aesthetic Surgery in Dubai, Dr Maurizio Viel does two or three thread lifts each week. The procedure takes from 30 to 45 minutes, is done under local anaesthetic, and uses absorbable threads that have small, also-absorbable barbs that catch and lift tissue. The threads also create a slight inflammatory response that stimulates collagen production. They may leave a few initial marks and possibly some bruises, which will fade.
The procedure costs Dh6,000 to Dh12,000, depending on how many threads are used. The effect only lasts for about a year to 18 months, tops, and the procedure is not for everyone, Dr Viel says.
The threading won’t work for people who have thicker skin, more fat on their faces, or who already have deep wrinkles that extend downward around the nose and mouth.
"It's best for patients in their late 30s or early 40s with a mild, tired look, especially on the lower face," Dr Viel says.
6. Facial yoga, rolling and gua sha
When Isidora Peric launched her company Fit Face in 2014, she says it took "a lot of education and time to spread awareness".
Six years later, Peric has taught her methods to thousands of people online, worked with global brands and expanded into retail. This summer she will launch the Fit Face Academy, to train new teachers.
“When we strengthen the muscles of the face, they get bigger and give a more sculpted and toned look,” she says. “It’s also incredible for circulation, lymphatic drainage and even helps with migraines.”
Peric advises following an online tutorial, using light pressure, building it over time and making sure to pull up, not down. Important tools include rose quartz or jade rollers and the gua sha, a heart-shaped scraping tool.
"We call it the 'sculptor' because of its ability to instantly contour the face," Peric says.
7. Facial cupping
When Sinead Kelly took over as director of the spa at Native Club, Zabeel House by Jumeirah, she made sure to introduce facial cupping into the 90-minute signature facial.
Cupping is used in Chinese medicine on the body for pain relief, relaxation and to promote detoxification. One of the main ways it does this is by stimulating lymphatic drainage, which is what happens when smaller cups are used on the face, explains Kelly, who has a diploma in acupuncture and Chinese medicine.
"Honestly, if you do it and follow the routine you will see such a difference," Kelly says.
Sets of small, plastic facial cups are available online for delivery in the UAE, starting at about Dh40. Each set comes with tiny cups, too, which work well for around the lips but can easily bruise the thin skin around the eyes, says Kelly. She recommends watching an online tutorial to get the hang of it, first practising on your leg or arm.
“It’s very easy to do,” says Kelly. “You just need to put on a good-quality oil – one pump of the oil on to the whole face and neck before. It allows the cup to not drag, but to move a lot easier on the face.”