As more Americans dip their toes into the world of cosmetic rejuvenation, there seems to be a bit of an aha moment at play. According to a new report by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, Americans spent more than $16.5 billion on cosmetic plastic surgery and minimally invasive procedures in 2018. And experts say that increasing numbers of patients are focusing on more than just their face. “Lately, the trend has been all about facial and lip fillers paired with facial and body contouring for an all-around more youthful, defined appearance that looks well balanced,” says Dr. Howard Sobel, dermatologist and founder of Sobel Skin in New York City. “The upper arms, abdomen, butt, and legs are major concerns these days.” Manhattan-based dermatologist Dr. Dendy Engelman agrees. “Antiaging does not stop with the face,” she says. “More and more people are focusing on youth-boosting treatments from head to toe.”
Patients are realizing the importance of spending time and money on other telltale areas of the body that can be dead giveaways of aging (hands, neck, décolletage, legs) and taking action, asking their derms what they can do to create a more youthful appearance for the entire body.
Among the most common complaints that patients bring to their doctors’ offices: leg veins; discoloration and age spots on arms, legs, and chest; and overall sagging skin.
Below, we divulge your best bets for achieving that youthful glow on the rest of your body, broken down by skincare concern.
With age, your legs can fall victim to damage from hormones, childbirth, sun damage, standing too much, and, of course, genetics, Dr. Sobel says. “Leg veins are a constant worry. Many of our patients are looking for solutions to help address them.” It’s important to note that there are two types of leg veins: varicose veins and spider veins (you can have one without the other). Dr. Sobel says sclerotherapy, which has been around for quite some time, remains the gold standard when it comes to treating varicose veins. The procedure involves an injection of Aethoxysklerol directly into the veins. The solution irritates the lining of the blood vessel, causing it to collapse and stick together, and the blood to clot. Over time, the vessel turns into scar tissue that fades from view.
When it comes to treating spider veins (which get their name from the weblike appearance of red or blue veins that often become visible on your legs as you age), Dr. Engelman recommends the Nd:YAG laser. “While sclerotherapy is more common, the smaller, fine, reddish spider veins are harder to inject and respond best to laser treatment,” she says.
Discoloration and Age Spots
To treat these perennial aggravations, many are turning to Fraxel, the pioneer in fractional skin resurfacing. “In one treatment, you can diminish discoloration, improve sun damage, and improve the tone and texture of the skin,” Dr. Sobel says. “It is great for freckles on the face, chest, arms, and legs.”
He also recommends use of the new cutting-edge PiQo4 laser for discoloration: “I can effectively treat individual spots on the body.”
Treatment with Fraxel Restore Dual is very popular, and zaps and peels the dark pigment in your skin’s surface layer. Once the discolored cells absorb the heat from the laser, they temporarily darken, scab on the surface, and then flake away. If you don’t have the downtime to spare after Fraxel (recovery can require anywhere from a day to a week, depending on treatment settings), there are less aggressive lasers, such as IPL (intense pulsed light) or the alexandrite lasers, that are not as intense, Dr. Engelman says. “Chemical peels on problem areas are also good for lightening superficial brown spots,” she says.
For that loose skin on the legs, arms, and chest, the Sublime skin-contouring laser combines bipolar radio frequency and light energies to precisely heat dermal tissue and stimulate collagen production.
“The most exciting addition to my practice is the Emsculpt,” Dr. Sobel says. “For patients who are in good shape but want to look amazing, this technology is for them. It is the equivalent of doing 20,000 sit-ups in one treatment. You can have sculpted abs or lift your behind in two weeks. The newest addition to the Emsculpt is the attachment for the upper arms. Just in time for the summer, you can have definition in your arms.”
If you’re not quite ready to go to a derm, you can achieve similar benefits at a spa when you’re already there for your favorite facial or massage. Many spas are adding full-body treatment options to facials. “Light-therapy facials and body treatments are known for reversing the signs of aging and damaged skin, so that’s a growing category for us,” says Joanna Vargas, celebrity facialist and founder of Joanna Vargas spas and skincare. The growing trend inspired Vargas to launch a new add-on body treatment called the Body Booster, in which the client slips on compression air boots during their facial. The boots are used to assist in lymphatic drainage to instantly detox and depuff the body. The treatment ($110) can be added to any facial at Vargas’ New York City salon.
“There is still no easy cure for cellulite,” Dr. Sobel says. “But a combination of skin-tightening laser, massage, and diet can help.” Sobel also uses fillers to smooth out some of the irregularities in the skin.
For an easy cellulite solution you can have right in the comfort of your own home, Vargas recommends dry brushing. “Dry brushing increases circulation, which helps with cellulite, aids in lymphatic drainage, and exfoliates the skin,” she says. “Apply gentle pressure, brushing upward toward the heart.”
Regardless of your cosmetic goals, many doctors agree that the best results will likely come from a mix of treatments that are customized to your specific problem areas, so talk to your derm about the best skincare plan for you.
At-Home Miracle Workers
Can’t make it to the derm? These products will help you get a leg up on the competition, either in tandem with treatments or all on their own.
Sunscreen is essential if you’ve had laser treatment anywhere on your body and to prevent future sun damage. Dr. Sobel recommends ample amounts of sun protection.
Multi-use Skincare Oil
“During my pregnancy, I used Bio-Oil all over my body,” Dr. Engelman says. “Studies show that usage helps prevent stretch marks.”
Dry brushing boosts circulation, which helps minimize cellulite, assists in lymphatic drainage, and exfoliates skin, Vargas says.
Concealer can be used to camouflage imperfections. “I like Dermablend Quick-Fix concealer—or Sally Hansen’s Airbrush Legs is good for larger areas,” Dr. Engelman says.