9 Skin Treatments That Give Instant Results

When it comes to pretty much, well, everything, it’s no secret that millennials expect swift service, same-day delivery, and overall efficiency. Our need for instant gratification is even true with beauty treatments.

After all, if Amazon Prime Now can deliver toilet paper within the hour and UberEATS can promise a warm, cooked meal in minutes, why shouldn’t our dermatologists be capable of fading brown spots or zapping zits in an instant?

Of course, dealing with skin isn’t quite that simple. But as it turns out, there are several beauty treatments designed to target common skin issues and provide (nearly) instant gratification. We called on Zein Obagi, MD, and Michael Lin, MD, two experts in the field of cosmetic dermatology, for their insight into these speedy cosmetic procedures.

Ready to finally get rid of your acne scars? Worried about the once-faint lines etching themselves deeper around your mouth? This one’s for you. Read on for a beginner’s guide to nine skin concerns and the relatively quick treatments that will help bid them goodbye.
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No matter how diligent you are about using sunscreen, years of sun exposure may eventually catch up to you in the form of brown spots that crop up on your face, hands, neck, and chest. “These spots become very common as we age, and are secondary to thinning and weakening skin,” says Dr. Obagi.

At $300 and up a pop (though the cost varies), Clear + Brilliant — a gentle, non-invasive fractional laser treatment that helps with discoloration — is the answer to eliminating these spots. How it works: “Low levels of laser light penetrate your skin, triggering collagen formation and new skin-cell production,” says Dr. Obagi. “The result is improved tone and texture.” Because the treatment doesn’t do too much damage to the top layer of your skin and surrounding skin, it also doesn’t require much downtime. “Your skin may be red with a sandpapery feel for a few days, but you can resume all regular activities,” says Dr. Obagi. “Results typically take four to six sessions spaced about a month apart, but many people notice improvement after one or two.”

You can count prolonged redness, swelling, and blistering among the possible side effects, but for the most part, Clear + Brilliant is known for allowing you to quickly return to your regularly scheduled programming.
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A giant zit on your face — especially when you have a wedding or job interview on the horizon — requires a serious-sounding treatment. Enter: intralesional triamcinolone injections. “I typically perform the injection directly into the pimple,” Dr. Lin says. “It quickly flattens the pimple within 24 hours and reduces redness."

But be warned, this requires thoughtful consideration. Why? "The biggest side effect is that sometimes an indentation can occur after injection. The chance of this occurring is related to the concentration, amount of, and frequency of the triamcinolone injected. Due to risk of indentation, I don’t recommend injecting the same area more than twice per three months,” he says. It is, however, perfectly fine to receive more than one injection at the same time for different pimples — as long as you’re fine with the $100-per-treatment price tag.

Dr. Lin also stresses the importance of at-home treatments (in case your nearest cosmetic derm is booked for the day!). “Apply a generous amount of a benzoyl peroxide-based over-the-counter product, like my Acne Spot Corrector, directly on the pimple and leave it on overnight,” he says. “As a natural remedy, try using egg whites, which contain egg proteins to dry the pimple and lysozyme to kill acne bacteria.”
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Industry standbys like Botox, Dysport, and Xeomin aren’t just capable of smoothing out wrinkles, they’re also great for shrinking down enlarged pores — common in people with oily skin, acne, and rosacea. “Neuromodulators like Botox can be injected into large pores to contract their girth, suppress sebum, and control breakouts,” says Dr. Obagi. “Microdermabrasion is also helpful for large pores and generally refreshing the skin, since it involves a deep exfoliation of the surface layer.”

Based on the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery’s statistics, you should be prepared to cough up an average of $122 per microdermabrasion session. Expect side effects like skin tightness, redness, and minor bruising.

Dr. Obagi also recommends augmenting treatments with topical products: “Daily use of mechanical (such as scrubs) and chemical (like lactic acid) exfoliants [is] preferable for longer-lasting results.”
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The “11s” are a clever way of describing what are basically the dreaded vertical lines carved between your eyebrows, which form from repeated contractions of your frowning muscles (another reason to avoid scowling when stuck in gridlock). “This is one of the most common areas of concern for patients. It makes you look tired or angry — even when you’re not,” explains Dr. Obagi.

Turns out the best treatment for the “11s” is still good old-fashioned Botox. According to Dr. Obagi, “Botox prevents the release of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that causes muscles to contract. This allows facial muscles to remain relaxed and unable to produce a crease. On average, Botox lasts for about three months.” Other similar neuromodulators, like Dysport and Xeomin, work just as well. “They can be precisely injected into target muscles to reduce their activity, and in turn, soften overlying lines. Expect three days to see benefits and two weeks for maximum results,” says Dr. Obagi.

According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, on average Botox can set you back about $392 per area. Less serious side effects might include pain, swelling, or bruising at the injection site, and headache or flu-like symptoms. Not ready for injections? Dr. Obagi also recommends his ZO Skin Health’s Ossential Growth Factor Serum Plus. “It contains an ingredient that mimics a compound found in snake venom (dipeptide diaminobutyroyl benzylamide diacetate), which relaxes the muscles in the forehead, thereby reducing the '11s,'” he says.
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If icons Cindy Crawford and Marilyn Monroe have taught us anything, it’s that facial moles are hardly flaws. But if your beauty icon-approved birth mark just isn’t cutting it, you can elect to have it removed. Dr. Lin recommends checking with your specialist to explore various options. “Flesh-colored moles can simply be flattened with an ablative laser,” he says. “Dark moles may need to be excised. Overall, it’s complicated since 'moles' are a layman’s term and is used to describe a multitude of skin lesions, which all require different treatments.”

Dr. Obagi agrees, saying, “Moles are generally harmless and can be left alone. However, they may be removed if they appear cancerous, are repeatedly irritated (through shaving, combing, clothing), or are of cosmetic concern. You should always have an annual mole check or a full-body check if something seems irregular.”

Side effects include possible post-removal scarring, and the average cost of a removal is around $575.
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Sun exposure, inflammation from rosacea or acne, and genetics may all be to blame for these blotchy, spidery-looking spots. But banishing broken capillaries is possible — and not too painful — thanks to intense pulsed light (IPL) treatments that feel like nothing more than a rubber band snapping against your face.

“Also known as a photofacial, IPL delivers high-intensity light deep into the skin,” says Dr. Obagi. “During treatment, the device produces a range of light waves that target hemoglobin, the red blood cells located within blood vessels, or melanin, the brownish pigment in discoloration. The light emitted from the IPL device is absorbed by the hemoglobin or melanin, fragmenting the pigment, which is then absorbed.” The result? A complexion cleared of visible broken capillaries.

The benefits of IPL usually outweigh any risks, which include minor swelling, redness, and flushing. Based on the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery’s statistics, treatment usually clocks in at about $381 per session.
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As if dealing with adult acne isn’t painful enough, there’s also the unpleasant aftermath (scars that can range from purplish-gray to red and pink). According to Dr. Obagi, however, you can dramatically fade the marks with a variety of methods. “Treatment hinges on whether the scar is raised, depressed, or discolored,” he says. “Raised scars can be injected with steroids to flatten their height. Soft-tissue fillers, like Juvéderm, can be used to treat depressed scars to plump and hoist their base. Some scars will respond to interventions, such as Dermapen micro-needling.”

If you haven’t heard of micro-needling, it’s exactly what it sounds like: a bunch of tiny needles that puncture your skin. (You can do it at home, too, but DIY methods haven't been proven to fade acne scars since the needles are far shorter than those used at the derm.)

How, exactly, does this diminish scars? “The process — which can be performed at various depths, to range in intensity from mild to aggressive — creates micro injuries, prompting the body’s healing response and triggering collagen and elastin production. That helps improve tone, texture, and the appearance of scars,” Dr. Obagi tells us.

A word of warning: Though Dermapen’s needle pinpricks are typically well-tolerated, treatment can be uncomfortable, so a cosmetic dermatologist may apply numbing cream beforehand. Though the procedure is superficial and fairly safe, potential side effects may include redness, swelling, and bruising. The average price tag is around $600 per treatment.
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Call 'em what you will — parentheses wrinkles, nasolabial folds, or smile lines — but those creases surrounding your mouth aren’t going away anytime soon. In fact, they usually become much more pronounced over time.

“We lose the tone in our skin as we age and the fatty layer becomes less robust,” explains Dr. Obagi. “The tissues in the face drop to a degree which causes folds to form from the nose to the mouth — and get deeper as we continue to age.”

The quick fix? “Because these lines occur due to loss of volume in the underlying tissue, soft-tissue fillers — like Sculptra — can be used to replace the depleted mass and elevate overlying skin,” suggests Dr. Obagi. Other options include hyaluronic acid-based Juvéderm or Voluma, which is in the Juvéderm family but has been specifically approved to restore volume in the cheek area. All of these fillers can help restore and correct the loss of volume, though the outcome varies depending on the treatment and your individual metabolism. Expect results to last anywhere from approximately six months to several years.

According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, the average Juvéderm and Sculptra session can demand $552 and $862, respectively. Side effects of both can include pain, redness, tenderness, and bruising at the injection site.
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If only we all still had the baby-smooth skin we possessed as infants. Unfortunately, time and the elements take their toll on your complexion, causing some to experience rough, uneven skin by the time they reach their 20s or 30s. To return your skin to its original state (as much as humanly possible), Dr. Lin recommends ablative fractionated laser resurfacing.

“The two systems that I use are the Sciton ProFractional erbium laser and the Matrix CO2 laser,” he says. “Both produce tiny beams of light in a grid pattern that vaporize skin cells. The destruction of cells in small tunnels through the skin helps smooth the texture of the skin. The laser treatment generates heat and induces repair mechanisms that stimulate collagen production to tighten and firm.” If you have a darker complexion, ask about the ProFractional option, as its decreased heat reduces the risk of hyperpigmentation. Those with lighter skin can go for the CO2 laser, which generates a little more heat and prompts greater collagen production.

Side effects range from redness, swelling, and pain to the more serious possibility of herpes-virus reactivation. “I sometimes will put a patient on prophylactic acyclovir or valacyclovir to prevent that,” Dr. Lin says. Depending on the depth, ProFractional can cost anywhere from $400 to $1,500, while CO2 can set you back $400 to $2,500.
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