At-Home Cosmetic Treatments - Is the Money You Save Worth it?

Samantha Johnson

by Samantha Johnson | May 31, 2012 @ 02:00PM

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At-home treatmentsWhen money's tight, any project that is “do-it-yourself” can be your best friend, but would you risk your beauty and wellness just to save a few bucks?  According to CBS Pittsburgh, more and more people are ending up in their plastic surgeon or dermatologist’s office after they have done some serious damage to their skin.  

Prescription-strength acid peels that are found online can go horribly wrong if misused.  Many women have tried them for the first time the day before an event, and are left with a swollen, red and peeling face.  

“Seeking professional expertise should always be the first step when considering treatment,” says New York cosmetic plastic surgeon Dr. Steven Greenberg.  “A professional procedure may cost more than over-the-counter remedies, but it is safer and could be more cost-effective in the long-run.”

Cost-effective is right.  A $30 at-home laser hair removal kit takes a hefty 20 seconds to remove a single hair, and treatments usually have to be done five times to reap a 50 to 70 percent reduction in hair growth.  This process can be so time-consuming that the whole machine might have to be replaced from prolonged use.  Compare that to the $380 in-office laser hair removal procedure of removing multiple hairs at a fraction of a second with a 70 to 100 percent reduction in hair growth.  Factor in the precision of a professional, plus the value of your time, and you have a lot more bang for your buck.

Even exfoliating scrubs like Lauren Conrad's DIY microdermabrasion treatment can be harmful.  Overuse can dry the skin or cause pain, bleeding or increased sensitivity.  A professional can assess your skin type and will be able to prescribe the number of treatments that are right for you.

“Seeking professional expertise should always be the first step when considering treatment.”

If you find retinoids or products like Restylane and Juvederm from a third party online vendor, there is no guarantee that the product you will receive is the real thing.  Legally, these products can only be purchased directly from a board-certified physician.  Even if you did get the real product, lack of knowledge or precision could have devastating effects that come at a high price to repair.  If you can find these products at a cheaper price than your surgeon can, it is not the same quality product.

2010 Average Surgeon Fees
Chemical Peel $706
Microdermabrasion $146
Laser Hair Removal $383
Botox $375
Restylane $547
Juvederm $547


BOTOX parties are another recent trend that is popular among bridal parties and ladies gatherings.  Much like a Tupperware party, women gather with snacks and friends to socialize while they get rid of their wrinkles.  These procedures must be avoided if they are not performed by a licensed professional.  Be wary of “lunchtime peels” or procedures that take less time, boast a more economical cost and are not performed in a physician’s office.  If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.  Make sure your doctor is board-certified in plastic surgery and that the surgery is performed in an accredited facility.

Whether you are considering microdermabrasion, a chemical peel or any of the procedures above, your choice should always be to play it safe.  It is far better to see your dermatologist or plastic surgeon to perform a procedure rather than to repair a “procedure” you have tried yourself.  

Your doctor or dermatologist can:    

  • Offer precision and speed from quality equipment and medical training
  • Assess whether or not you are a good candidate for any of the above procedures or at-home treatments.  Factors like genetics, skin type and other medications can have a significant effect on treatment.     
  • Suggest the type of treatment that will give you the results you want.
  • Tell you how to best prepare for surgery     
  • Prescribe pre-treatment creams with concentrations of glycolic or lactic acids which can improve the results seen from the chemical peel.     
  • Tell you how much sun exposure you should have 2-3 weeks before treatment
  • Offer recovery advice and prescribe medication.


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