Buyer beware: Experts urge caution when using unproven anti-aging treatments

June 15, 2012

Buyer beware: Experts urge caution when using unproven anti-aging treatments
Buyer beware: Experts urge caution when using unproven anti-aging treatments

Many people who want to achieve a more youthful appearance often use creams and lotions in addition to any surgical or nonsurgical cosmetic procedure such as injections of Botulinium Toxin Type A or hyaluronic acid, laser treatments, chemical peels, microdermabrasion or a facelift. However, a US News and World health report warns that many commonly-used over-the-counter anti-aging treatments may not deliver results - and some may even be dangerous.

The report emphasizes the need for consumers and patients to be careful when purchasing expensive creams, taking vitamin supplements and receiving anti-aging hormone treatments. Much of the field is unregulated and might do more than waste money. In March 2012, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned against mercury in some skin products that have found their way illegally into the country.

"Exposure to mercury can have serious health consequences," said FDA medical advisor Dr. Charles Lee. "It can damage the kidneys and the nervous system, and interfere with the development of the brain in unborn children and very young children."

"The FDA classifies creams and lotions as cosmetics, which are defined as having no medical value," explained the Mayo Clinic. "So the FDA regulates them less strictly than it does drugs. This means that products don't undergo the same rigorous testing for safety and effectiveness that topically applied medications undergo before approval to go on the market."

An August 2011 study conducted by Consumer Reports found that most wrinkle creams are largely ineffective. Nearly 80 participants used various lotions for a period of 12 weeks and had their appearance evaluated by sensory panelists who compared the appearance of their skin through photographs at various intervals throughout the study. Overall, the study found that these anti-wrinkle creams are only slightly effective, and not for everyone who uses them.

Experts say the efficacy of any over-the-counter anti-aging product may depend on your skin type, how often it is used and how you use it. Individuals interested in keeping their skin looking youthful should take common sense steps to protect it such as using sunscreen, eating healthy and avoiding smoking.

A 2007 Aesthetic Surgery Journal article found that many over-the-counter topical products do not have any science behind their claims. Their studies found that while Vitmain C, alpha-hydroxy acids and some ingredients are proven, many ingredients in products cannot live up to their advertising. Researchers also found that keeping the skin hydrated and moisturized did the most to help the overall appearance of the skin.

Those who want help keeping the skin healthy and young-looking should consider discussing their options with a licensed, board-certified plastic surgeon or dermatologist.


The mission of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) includes medical education, public education and patient advocacy. Plastic Surgery News Briefs are summaries of current stories found through various news and magazine outlets that relate to or mention plastic surgery and cosmetic procedures. The views expressed in these news articles do not necessarily reflect the opinions of ASAPS, but are merely published as an educational service to our members and the general public. For additional information on these subjects and other plastic surgery related topics, please go to www.surgery.org

Search by location (Zip, City, or Country)

Related Articles

Illegal buttock injections are more common than you think

September 19, 2013 - How many times have you read a story about illegal plastic surgery in the news?

How to get a top-rate plastic surgeon

September 4, 2013 - For the best results, do your research

Mother-daughters team arrested for illegal Botox injections

July 30, 2013 - You may have heard of a recent trend known as "couples’ surgery."

Two women share nightmare medical tourism tale

July 19, 2013 - Houston’s KHOU 11 News recently reported on a story of two women who took a trip to Mexico in hopes of saving on plastic surgery costs.

Terms to add to your plastic surgery glossary

July 11, 2013 - If you're in the early stages of planning a plastic surgery procedure, you've likely come across a few terms that have made you stop and scratch your head.

Latest Articles

Plastic lips to get rid of wrinkles?

September 25, 2013 - Remember those wax lips you used to chew on when you were a kid? Well, they seem to have inspired the latest fad in the anti-aging realm.

Illegal buttock injections are more common than you think

September 19, 2013 - How many times have you read a story about illegal plastic surgery in the news?

Yet another anti-wrinkle cream faces lawsuit

September 17, 2013 - It seems to be almost cyclical - every few months, a brand new, game-changing anti-wrinkle cream is introduced to the market, only to face lawsuits due to suggestions that the "scientific" claims made on the side of the bottle are absolute bunk.

Study: If you've got wrinkles, thank Mom

September 12, 2013 - Have you ever wondered why some people get wrinkles at a young age and others don't?

About ASAPS
The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), is recognized as the world’s leading organization devoted entirely to aesthetic plastic surgery and cosmetic medicine of the face and body.  ASAPS is comprised of over 2,600 Plastic Surgeons; active members are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (USA) or by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and have extensive training in the complete spectrum of surgical and non-surgical aesthetic procedures. International active members are certified by equivalent boards of their respective countries. All members worldwide adhere to a strict Code of Ethics and must meet stringent membership requirements.

WE ARE AESTHETICS.

Website: www.surgery.org
Follow ASAPS on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ASAPS
Become a fan of ASAPS on Facebook: www.facebook.com/AestheticSociety
Join Smart Beauty Guide: www.smartbeautyguide.com
Locate a plastic surgeon in your area:  http://www.surgery.org/consumers/find-a-plastic-surgeon

Copyright © 2009-2012 ASAPS. All Rights Reserved.