Please note: This information was current at the time of publication. But medical information is always changing, and some information given here may be out of date. For regularly updated information on a variety of health topics, please visit, the AAFP patient education website.

Information from Your Family Doctor

Common Cosmetic Procedures


Am Fam Physician. 2009 Dec 1;80(11):1238.

  See related article on aesthetic procedures.

What are cosmetic procedures?

Cosmetic procedures can help your skin look younger or healthier. These treatments can reduce wrinkles, sun damage, and unwanted hair. Most treatments need to be repeated for long-lasting results. The most common of these procedures are botulinum toxin injections (brand names: Botox, Dysport), dermal fillers (some brand names: Juvéderm, Restylane), microdermabrasion, chemical peels, and laser therapy.

Are Botox and dermal fillers safe?

Yes, they have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Can I really get a “lunchtime facelift”?

Cosmetic procedures are generally safe and effective, cause only minor discomfort, and have short recovery times. Some treatments, like dermal fillers, can provide smoother skin in less than an hour. Others, such as Botox injections and laser therapy, will take a week or more before you notice a difference in your skin.

Is laser hair reduction permanent? How many treatments will I need?

Laser treatments permanently reduce hair growth. On average, six treatments are needed, with at least four weeks between each treatment.

What is intense pulsed light therapy?

Intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy, also known as a PhotoPeel or PhotoFacial, can reduce the effects of sun damage. After three to five treatments, sun spots, uneven coloring, and broken blood vessels should be less noticeable. IPL can help with flushing in people with rosacea.

Will my insurance company pay for my treatments?

Most insurance companies do not cover cosmetic procedures. However, your insurance may cover treatment if it is needed to treat a medical condition, such as rosacea.

Which treatments are right for me?

Talk with your doctor about your specific areas of concern and how you would like your skin to look. He or she can help you decide which procedures are best for you.

Where can I get more information?

Your doctor

American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery

Web site:

This handout is provided to you by your family doctor and the American Academy of Family Physicians. Other health-related information is available from the AAFP online at

This information provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. Talk to your family doctor to find out if this information applies to you and to get more information on this subject.


Copyright © 2009 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.
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