Anti-Aging Skin Care

10 ways to look younger without plastic surgery

By Kim Crawford, M.D. Last updated: November 3, 2018
ways to look younger without plastic surgery

My pick for the top 10 ways to look younger without plastic surgery:

All of the ways to look younger without plastic surgery work best if you have a “virgin face” meaning you haven’t had “extensive work done” already. However, they still do work even if you’ve had a full facelift- I just hope that you haven’t gone that far before reading this and other articles.

If you are realistic and don’t expect to look 30 when you are 60, the technology of “appearance science” is evolving to where it’s all about the right inside out care, the best anti aging skin care regimen, the best products and the more current esthetics procedures. No longer do we need to run for the scalpel and risk looking “too tight” or un-natural.

Again, looking young means looking naturally, not artificially young. It’s  2017 and life has changed for those of us who want to know how to look young into our 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and more.  We have advanced esthetic dermatology procedures now. And if you couple them with the right skin care products, you are “in business.”

We don’t need to immediately have a full face-lift as soon as things start going south as people did in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. There is a plethora of dermatology treatments which includes everything that stimulates the skin’s building blocks. I’m writing this article assuming that you are versed in “fillers” and botox and if not, I have other articles which go into those topics. (Or just ask me!)

Those building blocks are collagen and elastin and even hyaluronic acid. All of these diminish in quantity as we get older. However, the great news is we now know how to increase the amount of all of these vital skin structures to keep looking young long past are “expectancy” to look young. “How old do I look” is something you can ask with confidence once you get on board with some of what I’m going to talk about in this article.  I’ll start with what is the least work for you and the most bang for the buck.

A Quick Reminder

First, beauty starts with good health. Good health means taking care of your weight, getting enough exercise, and fixing things like oxidative stress and inflammation. It means making sure you have a healthy GI tract and GI microbiome. You can search this blog and find information on this. Another good place to start is the article discussing the idea to look young you need to start with your “insides.” Then, always remember to use the best, most pure and effective products on your skin. All of the procedures I will mention work tons better if accompanied by the right skin care products. Note you can find them in the anti-aging skin care kit I’ll link for you at the end. And no matter what you do, I recommend (yes I’m an affiliate but this is WHOLESALE!) that you read about this product, the best face cleanser that does much more, and you go here to get one, at a wholesale price!

Advanced Dermatology lasers:

It is important before doing any procedure that you have done well-informed research. You need to know the Esthetic Dermatologist you have chosen is well trained (staff too!) in the methods I’ll mention in a moment.

Fortunately for you, I have conducted the research to steer you in the right direction regarding procedures. After that, it’s up to you to “vet” the practitioner you choose, OK? Don’t find someone who’s “a bargain” because that’s usually a recipe for disaster. Invasive (read DOWN TIME) lasers are really “where it’s at” for big results so, I’ll discuss them first.

Carbon dioxide laser resurfacing:

Carbon dioxide laser resurfacing is more invasive, but much more effective for those with a large amount of sun damage. In other words, if you have aging skin and know by looking and being honest with your sunning and smoking history that you need skin re-surfacing then this is for you.

It has a long recovery period. Certainly, lots more than the other lasers I will mention. So, make sure your desires are well known when you have your dermatology consultation. It is a procedure to wipe out sun damage but is definitely also a form of laser skin tightening. In addition, there can be up to 6 months of facial redness. However, do note that studies using the Lifeline Proplus+formulations topically after CO2 laser resurfacing, show it produces a real shortening of recovery time.

cytokines therapy

Day 3-L treated with Lifeline Proplus and already healing

The hour-long procedure is usually done in an outpatient setting, and patients are sedated.

As the laser is passed across the face, it sears through the paper-thin epidermis and into portions of the dermis—the skin’s thicker layer beneath the epidermis—to purge old, damaged collagen and generate four to five times more new collagen than retinoic acid does.

Prepare yourself.

Your face essentially becomes an open, oozy wound that must be rigorously cared for until healed. That means virtual house arrest for two weeks, during which skin must be soaked with ice-cold water every few hours then slathered with a layer of ointment to avoid scarring and infection.

During this time expect to take pain medications and scale down on the work-from-home stuff.

Once healed, skin may remain red for up to six months. However, again, the Lifeline Proplus products shorten this time. If I have patients who get this done, I put them on nitric oxide enhancers because one of the most incredible nitric oxide benefits is increased blood flow to the skin. This means more repair and more collagen and elastin production. You get some skin tightening with this procedure as well as resurfacing benefits. How to tighten skin the best with the most downtime? CO2+Lifeline Proplus+ serums. How to do it with the least downtime? See what’s coming up and opt for the last one, Ultherapy plus the Lifeline stem cell products. And perhaps throw in some threads-yes, I’ll explain.

Less “invasive” lasers that offer less healing time, which are also “ablatives”:

A newer generation of lasers (“fractional ablatives”) are less invasive. They are what the Dermatology Specialists really rely on to augment their botox and filler regimens. They do indeed promote skin tightening, but it’s more “gentle” than you just read with the CO2 laser. Instead of burning off the skin’s entire surface, microscopic beams of energy singe tiny plugs of tissue, leaving areas of untouched skin.

This method promotes quicker healing. Patients are usually just red and swollen for a week and can usually resume their daily routine after that. While one carbon dioxide laser resurfacing session may yield results that last eight years, fractional ablatives may require two or three sessions for optimal effects. How to look young forever is not an inexpensive endeavor. The traditional CO2 procedure can cost between $5,000 to $8,000, and the fractional ablatives, between $3,000 and $5,000 per treatment. Fraxel® is the best known and most widely used fractional ablative laser.

Corrective Chemical Peels:

you look youngWhen peels are properly administered, they are known to be one of the most powerful non-surgical skin improvements available. They remove cellular buildup, stimulate skin regeneration, and reduce wrinkles, fine lines, large pores, and oiliness. In addition, they improve overall texture and tone. Skin appeal goes way up! :-)

Undergoing a chemical peel is a popular anti-aging non-surgical treatment because it’s an effective alternative to costly surgery. The procedure involves applying an acid-based solution to small areas of the skin, be it the face, hands, or neck. The peels are how to look young – well younger actually your late twenties to age forty with skin refinement effects after that age.

The acid peel solution is typically washed away after two minutes and, to minimize discomfort, a small fan may be directed to the spot where the acid was applied.


Depending on the strength of the formula used, it may take several treatments to see any noticeable results. With stronger peels, like phenol peels, the recovery time can be up to three months, because of the severely sunburned look the skin takes on. This peel will allow you to look younger over age 40, but be very careful with this one.

The results of a phenol peel are close to laser skin tightening results of a CO2 laser treatment at a fraction of the cost. Again, be careful because, in un-trained hands, chemical burns which leave scars are not all that un-common. Phenol peels, to be quite honest are not particularly “current.”  They are a bit of a throw-back to the 70’s and are not recommended by most Esthetic Dermatology Specialists.

Light glycolic peels can be done as often as bi-weekly with no “down time.” Light TCA peels will work more quickly, and you’ll have as little as 3-4 days of “down time.” These are less useful as aids to look younger but are great at clearing acne, reducing pore size and cleaning up minimal sun damage. They fall into the “skin refinement” category. They stimulate collagen and elastin a little bit. In addition, they are useful for some skin refinement, and for certain types of acne scars.


now needs serious skin care productsThis is not something new per se but is now “hot” due to celebrities like the Kardashians. It is being used for fine lines, acne scarring, and collagen-elastin stimulation. It is also showing great promise for stretch marks. The beauty of this is hyaluronic acid mixtures are used to drive the product down into your dermis. This is where your own dwindling hyaluronic acid “lives.” And then healing is a snap with the Lifeline Proplus day/night serums.

Hyaluronic acid product results give your skin a radiance for “several months,” and there are only several days downtime. I mention this procedure because it is equivalent to having one Fraxel® laser skin tightening treatment at a much lower cost and less “down time.” Mesotherapy used to be used for a similar effect but has fallen out of favor due to very short improvement times and no real long term effects. Dermapen® is a popular instrument now in use. It looks pretty bloody but cleans up with minimal after effects, believe it or not! You’ll have 4 to 5 days of minor downtime with a deep microneedling, and perhaps 1, maybe 2 at most if you use the LifeLine Proplus products afterwards. This combo works!

The little sister to Microneedling = Derma-rolling:

You can purchase a small rolling device and do this yourself or have it done by an Esthetician or even a N.P. through a Physician’s office. These rollers can be used at home at .5 mm depth. Numbing cream is not of need, and the purpose is to enhance penetration of good skincare ingredients. It does indeed work and is an excellent way to stretch the effects of your skincare regimen. At this depth, minimal scar reduction or collagen stimulation is achieved. The skin magic of a deeply penetrating hyaluronic acid serum or a stem cell serum or both factors augments the results of this procedure. As with the micro-needling, the effects of Lifeline Proplus products significantly speed up healing and minimize downtime.

ways to look younger without plastic surgeryIf you use a 1.5 mm roller, you usually require some numbing cream. This will give you some of the effects of the micro-needling you read about above. For maximal results, you would see a professional for a 2.0 to 2.5 mm depth of derma-rolling.

However, you can use a 1.5 mm do-it-yourself roller. Please make sure you get one of high-quality and sterilize it between usages which can be as much as every two to four weeks. For both of these procedures, if you use the Lifeline Proplus day/night serums to quiet down the inflammation and speed up the healing, you can get away with pretty much zero downtime after a 1.5 mm treatment. If you do not use a good stem cell cytokine therapy and growth factors product you are looking at 2-3 days downtime for an at-home 1.5 mm and a little more for the professional, deeper treatments.


Intense Pulsed Light (IPL): Intense pulsed light, or IPL, is an anti-aging non-surgical treatment that uses wavelengths of light to correct wrinkles under eyes, on foreheads and cheeks. It is another way to treat sun-damaged skin.

It is also used as a hair removal treatment. The procedure uses intense bursts of light applied to a small area via a handheld device. The process triggers a damage-control response in the skin, leading it to shed the old skin and take on a smoother, more youthful appearance. There may be mild pain and discomfort following the procedure. This is also often used for “age spots” and other skin discoloration issues such as red blotches with very good results. It too will stimulate collagen and elastin, although not to the extent that the other laser skin tightening methods will.

 Now for my favorite non-invasive lasers:


GentleWaves LED photo modulation is noninvasive, as are all of these next procedures I’ll talk about. This means no down time! Yes, unreal isn’t it? How to look young on a lunch-time procedure with zero downtime! Unlike invasive surgical procedures or treatments that use harsh chemicals, GentleWaves uses low-intensity light-emitting diodes (LEDs).  These LEDs stimulate the skin’s production of collagen, resulting in more youthful, rejuvenated skin. It also reportedly suppresses the enzymes that break down collagen.

This process only takes five minutes. No aftercare is necessary, and the device is compatible with all skin types. It usually takes four to eight treatments to see results with this anti-aging non-surgical treatment, and the procedure is completely painless.


looking young foreverThermage® is indicated for those who want to address the visible signs of aging in just one treatment.

It’s an anti-aging non-surgical procedure with clinical proof showing it safely treats fine lines and wrinkles on most body parts. These include the face, eyes, neck, stomach, arms, hands, thighs, and buttocks.

Thermage® has even been approved by the FDA for improving cellulite.

(But IMHO it just doesn’t work for cellulite at all. AND this and GentleWaves IMHO don’t work as well as the two procedures below. BUT some women swear by them so “the practitioner” makes a big difference in all of these laser results).

I could go into detail about the results and benefits of each of these procedures. However, the claims are just not conclusive. I, therefore, urge you to do your research before doing Thermage or GentleWaves as there is an abundance of different reviews. Results depend on who is doing the procedure, not just “the procedure.”


take years off your faceTitan skin rejuvenation is an infrared laser treatment that uses light energy to stimulate new collagen growth deep beneath the skin’s surface.

It can tighten skin on your face, arms, abdomen, and legs.

A Titan procedure can also tighten pores and smooth away fine lines.

While some patients report seeing results in as few as one or two months, the full benefits of the Titan procedure are not usually noticeable for at least three to six months.

Another caution: Reviews show best and most predictable results on face and neck only, but it does seem to predictably work in those areas.

Titan on steroids = Ultherapy:

Ultherapy does what Titan does but deeper and more effectively. A pain killer is recommended and so is a deep pocket as this effective annual treatment runs about $5000. (How to look young? First, have money!) The full benefits are noticeable at 6 months, as with the Titan. I have seen patients have excellent results with this and I do not offer it in my practice so this is a totally unbiased endorsement. This really gives you great results in the right hands. Research conveys the results are visible mostly in the neck and forehead areas.

Pulsed-Dye Lasers: Not a laser skin tightening procedure but I thought you’d like to know!

get rid of skin spotsPulsed-dye lasers (PDLs) are a non-surgical treatment used for skin conditions such as port-wine stains, scars, spider veins, and more. Before the procedure starts, the dermatologist may do several test patches to determine the best strength for the laser.

The laser will then be applied to the area being treated. The process sends short pulses to the area.

There may be mild pain, but most of the time they use a cooling spray to minimize any discomfort. PDL treatment only takes a few minutes, and it may require up to three treatments before any results are visible.

Bruising is the most common side effect. When your skin looks better, you look better and younger, so this is why I have included this.  I have not discussed lasers or procedures where I have found little to no efficacy.

The latest “thing”: Thread Lifts

non surgical faceliftFor the immediate benefits of a surgical neck or facelift, there’s the minimally invasive thread lift. Many refer to it as the contour lift, suture lift or stitch lift. The procedure uses “threads” made out of specialized dissolvable suture material to lift the skin of the eyebrows, mid-face, cheeks, and neck.

Unlike facelifts, thread lifts are minor surgery.

Thread lift procedures involve a local anesthetic, with a recovery time of just two to three days. The threads dissolve over 6 months and stimulate collagen production.

This is not the same as the non-dissolveable threads used 5-10 years ago which did cause issues because they did not dissolve.

This is a quick, easy office procedure and is not plastic surgery. “Novathreads” are the leading “dissolveable” being used.

So, this is that last of the newest, hottest how to look young procedures that is the only non-surgical way to address jowls and sagging necks. Gwyneth Paltrow just went public with her “sugar strings” lift, so I predict that the demand for this will sky-rocket.

The sugar string lifts are not available in the U.S (but are available in London). However, from what I’ve read, they are likely not as effective as for instance the PDO threads. If you want to fly to London, go for the musicals!

best anti aging skin careBut as always, do your research and use great skin care products. If you have a clarisonic, I have found something that is less expensive and works better with none of the bacterial contamination that clarisonic gets. Here it is-my newest, most favorite “have great skin– toy!”

To Sum It Up:

I am a “skin-o-phile” and have been for decades.

Previously, I helped with formulation suggestions for MoorSpa and created some International distributorships for them.

I have done in-office esthetics procedures for over 35 years. But it always starts with what goes on “inside.”

I truly believe that we have total control over our health and looks if we all just truly “pay attention.”



  1. Great blog post, I enjoyed reading about the many various anti-aging procedures and their pros and cons.

    Many Thanks

  2. This is the best article on this topic EVER!

  3. This is very interesting, and sure does beat having surgery….going to try a few of these things….great blog!

  4. Thank you for this great information! Which Lifeline Proplus serum works best to use with derma-rolling?

    • Hi Lynn,
      Thanks! Always nice to provide good info! You want the nighttime serum-put it on, roll, put another layer on, voila!

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