Learn when to spring for a professional and when to DIY.
For at-home cosmetic procedures, you can buy an extensive array of tools and do the work yourself; however, this too can be pricey, and in some cases not as effective.
- Professional cosmetic procedures are most effective but can be very expensive.
- At-home tools can be more affordable but require commitment and a long-term approach.
- When considering purchasing a device, make sure it has clinical trials to back up all claims, and that the return policy is simple.
- Some at-home devices are dangerous, which cost you more than your investment.
- Consult with a board-certified plastic surgeon for free professional advice.
When you want to improve your appearance, options abound. You can go to a med spa or plastic surgeon for professional services. Depending on what you want done, procedures can cost hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars.
The 2023 RealSelf Culture Report found that 24% of people in the United States have had at least one cosmetic procedure, and 12% have had two or more.
Instead of using a professional for cosmetic procedures, you can buy an extensive array of tools and do the work in the privacy of your own home. They too can be pricey, however, and in some cases not as effective.
Here’s when you may want to spring for a professional and when DIY can suffice, depending on your goals.
Goal: Lift Sagging Skin
To reverse gravity’s impact, you may want a facelift performed by a board-certified plastic surgeon. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons data, the average cost for a facelift is $9,281.
With such a high price point, you may consider purchasing tools designed to lift and tighten skin with microcurrent technology. Top sellers include NuFace, which starts at around $200 and FaceGym, which retails at $580.
Dr. Akis Ntonos, founder and owner of the Manhattan-based Aion Aesthetics says to keep your expectations for the devices low.
“There is nothing you can do at home that will tighten your skin enough for you to be happy,” Ntonos says. “Microcurrent devices can activate muscles temporarily but have no lasting impact. They’re not harmful, but are often a waste of money.”
However, Trina Albus, a Los Angeles-based, at-home beauty device expert for Beauty Beyond 40, says that some do work.
“The device should be Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cleared and clinically proven and you need to use it regularly and consistently. Be patient. There are immediate and cumulative results,” she says.
Goal: Soften Wrinkles
Do you look perpetually peeved because you have deep vertical crevices between your eyes? Or maybe you have stubborn horizontal lines on your forehead.
All can be smoothed for three to six months with injectables like Botox, Dysport and Xeomin, available at med spas and doctors’ offices. Prices fluctuate based on location and type, but Botox is frequently $15 per unit. An area like the forehead can require 10 to 20 units, so expect to pay from $150 to $300.
If that’s too much, especially for something that will last only a few months, you may want to try an at-home device you can use every day, like a laser. There are many to choose from, including the NIRA Pro Anti Aging, which retails at around $550 and the LYMA Laser for $2,695.
“The NIRA is the easiest to incorporate into a routine because it’s fast, there’s no mess and it’s affordable compared to Botox,” Albus says. Since you’ll own the device, you don’t have to keep going back for more injections, so it is cheaper over time.
Just lower your expectations for dramatic results, Ntonos says. “Neuromodulators like Botox block signals of the brain to the muscle,” he says, explaining that even the best and most expensive home devices can’t do that.
Goal: Brighten Dull, Discolored Skin
If your skin has lost its youthful glow or has discolorations, you can take a trip to the med spa or an aesthetician to get microneedling done. The procedure involves using thin needles to puncture the skin and create tiny holes. As your skin heals, it produces more collagen and elastin, which give you a brighter, smoother complexion.
The more advanced types of microneedling, such as Morpheus8, penetrate deep into the tissue and incorporate radio frequency technology for maximum results.
RealSelf reports that the average price ranges from $500 for a single treatment session on a small area to $4,000 for a series of treatments.
It’s highly unlikely that you will match the same results on your own, but products that you can buy on the open market are very inexpensive and can actually produce the look you want.
“At home treatments like dermarollers, when mixed with exfoliants, can work,” Ntono says. They can range from $200 for an electric GLOPRO to a handheld ORA Facial Microneedle Roller System for $38, to Karuna Microneedling Patches for just $12 a pack.
If you’d rather not needle, you’re not alone.
“I prefer not to put holes in my skin so I use LED light therapy instead,” Albus says. “My favorite is the Dr. Dennis Gross LED face mask for around $450. It gives a more even skin tone.”