Experts Call These the Most Cutting-Edge Aesthetic Treatments

From recovery time to side effects, everything to expect from these dermatologist-approved procedures.

Best Beauty Buys: Transformative Beauty
Photo: Courtesy; Illustrations by Jenna Brillhart.

After the longest year of our lives, we made it to 2021. And some of us have big plans for the year ahead.

Over the past few months, plastic surgeons have reported a massive surge in demand for aesthetic treatments. Sounds about right since confinement consisted of staring at ourselves and analyzing our appearance through a computer screen for days on end (the Zoom gloom is real).

So for the first time ever, we expanded our Best Beauty Buys Awards into the world of aesthetics to dig a little deeper. If you're thinking about trying a new treatment but not sure where to start, we've got the need-to-know guidelines before you take the plunge.

We tapped a distinguished group of industry pros to share their stamp of approval on the latest and greatest in in-office procedures, ranging from innovative injectables to body sculpting treatments broken down by age group. However, we must emphasize that every option listed below might not be the right one for you. So it's important to consult a professional first.

With advice on these trusted treatments from industry-leading experts, you can feel confident before going for your first consultation.

Best Treatment in Your 20s: Clear + Brilliant

Overview: It's one of the top lasers on the market; Dr. Mona Gohara praises it for being, "a convenient treatment with big results." It's a fast and simple solution for dark spot removal and improved elasticity in skin texture. Gohara also notes that it is very helpful in reducing the look of fine lines and shrinking pores while leaving behind a radiant finish. The best part? It's pretty mild, making it one of the most pain-tolerant treatments on the market.

Best Candidate: "This is for anyone who is interested in facial rejuvenation," says Gohara. "I love that it can be used on all skin tones and types."

Recovery Time: "Its signature trait, unlike other fractional lasers, is that it is an easy, speedy treatment with little to no downtime — pop in at lunch!" suggests Gohara.

Side Effects: While the process feels fairly comfortable, as with any treatment there can be some minor irritation or inflammation afterward depending on your skin type.

Best Treatment in Your 30s: Botox

Overview: Chances are this injectable rings a bell. So it's no surprise that it is the number one requested treatment in Dr. Dendy Engelman's office. It's the go-to fix for forehead lines and crow's-feet. It's known for helping to relax muscles for a smoother, more relaxed look, and specifically targeting fine lines and wrinkles.

Best Candidate: "When I evaluate patients for Botox, I look at their face at rest and then ask them to make a series of expressions," explains Engelman. "Botox treats dynamic lines, which are formed from repetitive facial movements. Some of my more expressive patients will need to start earlier on in life, while some of my less expressive patients might not need to be treated until well after their 30s."

Recovery Time: "This is a non-invasive procedure with practically zero downtime," says Engelman.

Side Effects: To get the desired result, you must make sure that you are in trusted hands. "Precision is key as you don't want to disengage a muscle where it doesn't need to be," says Engelman. Make sure to go to a trained professional you can trust.

Best Treatment in Your 40s: Juvederm

Overview: Derma fillers are loved for their versatility and this hyaluronic acid formula is no different. It can be used to plump the skin, volumize lips, or sculpt and contour target areas. Dr. Josh Zeichner recommends Juvederm for the versatility and reliable benefits. However, he warns, it's all about who performs the treatment. "Your outcome is completely dependent on the skill and artistry of your injector," he says. "Both [artists] Monet and Van Gogh used oil paint, but the paintings turned out quite differently."

Best Candidate: If you're looking to restore lost facial volume and address issues such as hollowing of the face, sagging cheeks, thinning lips, or worsening jowls, Dr. Zeichner points out this is the procedure for you.

Recovery Time: While the treatment requires no formal recovery period, it can take a week or two for the effects to settle in.

Side Effects: Some swelling and bruising can be expected. While extremely rare, you can end up with a blocked blood vessel, which can scar the skin if done incorrectly.

Best Body Treatment: Emsculpt Neo

Overview: What if we told you that you could simulate 20,000 crunches in just 30 minutes with this popular non-invasive procedure? "It can be applied to the abdomen, buttocks, arms, and calves to simultaneously reduce fat and tone muscle," explains Dr. Engelman. "On average, patients experience a 25% growth in muscle volume and 30% reduction in fat."

Best Candidate: "It can treat most patients with a body mass index up to 35 and is also great for athletes and those looking to elevate their muscular strength to enhance their workout performance," says Engelman. However, you cannot use this device if you have any metal implants such as a pacemaker or an IUD.

Recovery Time: Downtime? Basically none. Dr. Engelman says, "Patients can go back to their daily routine and resume normal activities right after the treatment."

Side Effects: "It is common to feel muscle soreness, similar to the sensation one might feel after completing a vigorous workout," says Dr. Engelman.

Best Anti-Aging Treatment: Microneedling

Overview: Collagen production, improved elasticity, and pore reduction are promoted in this procedure which uses a small group of needles to puncture the first layer of skin for rejuvenation. Oftentimes, it's included in a facial treatment for added rejuvenation. Why is it favored by experts? "Patients experience minimal pain with maximum results," says Dr. Rachel Nazarian.

Best Candidate: According to Dr. Nazarian, those experiencing fine lines, mild acne scarring, or just about anyone who wants a low-lift, anti-aging procedure to preserve their skin should pursue microneedling.

Recovery Time: It can take three to four days for your skin to heal after one session.

Side Effects: You may experience some slight bruising or scarring.

Best Laser: Fraxel

Overview: Meet the queen of resurfacing treatments, ideal for boosting collagen production and reversing scars, signs of aging, and sun damage. Dr. Nazarian is a fan of its multitasking skills. "Multiple aging concerns can be addressed with one device," she says. "It's a win-win!" This is on the more intense side of lasers, but the visible results speak for themselves.

Best Candidate: Dr. Nazarian recommends this to patients with sun spots, deeper wrinkles and lines, or those suffering with deeper acne scars.

Recovery Time: Depending on the specific settings used at your appointment, it can take anywhere from five to seven days for your skin to heal.

Side Effects: After each session there is potential for burning, scarring, or pigment changes.

Best Neck Treatment: Kybella

Overview: In need of a non-surgical solution for a double chin? This injectable is on the rise due to its ability to destroy fat-cell walls, erasing the appearance of excess skin. "By reducing the fullness of the chin, the angle of the neck and jawline look sharper and more defined," says Dr. Chaneve Jeanniton. "And the results achieved are permanent."

Best Candidate: "I've seen best results in individuals with good skin elasticity and a small area of fat under the chin that they're unable to shed despite maximizing their diet and exercise routine," says Dr. Jeanniton. "Someone with more pronounced fullness or significant skin laxity may not be a good fit."

Recovery Time: You can expect some swelling that can last anywhere from two days to two weeks.

Side Effects: It is common to experience soreness, numbness, redness and the formation of temporary hard nodules in the treatment area. On the extreme side, temporary nerve damage can occur.

Editors' Pick: RHA® Collection

We championed this hyaluronic acid filler as our winner, as it uses next-level technology designed to mimic the skin's native facial movements for more natural results. It's no surprise that it also caught the attention of experts such as Dr. Zeichner. "The RHA Collection is different in its ability to integrate into the skin," he explains. "These fillers truly make themselves at home and spread out between skin cells seamlessly." The collection includes a total of three different RHA fillers that can be used to tackle a range of concerns such as volume loss and wrinkles.

For our 26th annual Best Beauty Buys, the InStyle team worked with leading dermatologists, makeup artists, hairstylists, wellness experts, fragrance connoisseurs, and manicurists to find out which products they can't get enough of. Now, the votes are in — and you'll want to get ahold of these 229 beauty game-changers.

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