Ouch! How Far Would You Go for Beauty?
4 Painful Beauty Treatments Explained
Even if you say “no way!” to the knife, there are nonsurgical cosmetic therapies that are every bit as painful. Do they work? Are they worth the agony? Let’s take a look at four ouch-inducing options:
How much bee-venom treatments hurt depends out how you get your toxins delivered. For what’s called apitherapy, some practitioners apply live, stinging bees; others inject bee venom with a needle. More likely, though, you or an esthetician will simply spread bee venom on your face via a cream or lotion.
Bee-venom beauty treatments leapt into the news when Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton used one before her 2011 wedding. The radiant royal chose a bee-venom mask, which plumps the skin and increases circulation and may help to build underlying collagen due to the mild irritation it causes. Bee venom also contains several kinds of peptides, which are amino-acid chains the skin uses to renjuvenate itself.
More recently, Gwyneth Paltrow told The New York Times she’s a fan of bee-sting apitherapy, exclaiming, “But, man, it’s painful!”
Does it work? Hard to say: Bee-venom facials combine multiple products and methods and the creams contain a variety of ingredients, so it’s impossible to say for certain that benefits are due to bee venom alone.
Pain factor: If you are allergic to bee stings—something you need to know before trying apitherapy—you could die from an injection of bee venom. But the creams and other products are unlikely to cause any pain beyond inflammation and redness in some people.
Doctor required? No.
Painless alternative: Get the bee beauty benefits without the sting with any of the JAFRA Royal Jelly products. For example, JAFRA Global Longevity Balm contains RoyalActive peptide to help skin rebuild itself—and all products contain nutrient-rich royal jelly from bees.
FOCUSED COLD THERAPY
Imagine being stabbed in the face with icy needles. Wielded by a doctor, the Iovera device’s frozen probes penetrate the skin to deliver a blast of liquid nitrous oxide. That’s why this treatment is nicknamed Frotox: The super-cooled liquid works like Botox to disrupt nerve transmission in the facial muscles and thus smooth existing wrinkles while discouraging the formation of new ones. The bad news (or good, depending on your pain tolerance) is that Iovera Focused Cold Therapy is currently available only in Europe and Canada as a cosmetic treatment.
What is available in the U.S. is a much milder form of facial cryotherapy—the CryoFacial—in which the skin surface is chilled with liquid nitrogen. This anti-inflammatory facial promises to stimulate collagen growth.
Does it work? Yes. Focused Cold Therapy is not a permanent fix, but the anti-aging effects reportedly last 6 months or so, just like Botox.
Pain factor: You’re given local anesthetic at the time of the injections, but you’ll probably need to take a pain reliever later, too. Bruises may appear.
Doctor required? Yes. And you want an M.D. who has experience with this procedure.
Painless alternative: Be your own Botox and relax your face. Make an effort not to habitually frown, grimace or bite your lips. Wear sunglasses to avoid squinting. And always apply sunscreen, of course!
To a get a fresh, new face, free of superficial wrinkles, creases, brown spots and even small scars, you can opt to shed facial skin via laser, chemicals, or abrasion. The catch is that for the procedure to make a dramatic difference in your appearance, the doctor needs to burn or sand off many layers of skin—and that hurts. A lot.
If your whole face is being resurfaced, you may need general anesthetic. At the very least, you will be sedated and have a local anesthetic applied to the skin.
Does it work? Absolutely, after your skin heals completely in three weeks or so. It won’t stop you from aging forever, but it does turn back the clock.
Pain factor: Intense, if the resurfacing is extensive and deep. Prescription steroids and painkillers help with swelling and pain. Your face will be swollen and raw and you will need to hide from the sun for several months.
Doctor required? Yes. And choose a specialist. You can have a mild facial peel with fruit acids in a salon, but that’s not the same thing as resurfacing.
Painless alternative: Make it a consistent ritual to exfoliate gently a couple of times a week.
The Vampire Facial got a lot of attention recently when Kim Kardashian posted a photo of her face slathered in her own fresh blood. However, unless you’re really squeamish, it’s not having your blood drawn for the facial that hurts—it’s the accompanying lasering and microneedling.
For the procedure, the top layer of the skin is burned off with a laser and your blood, which has been collected and separated to remove the nutrient-rich platelet-rich plasma, is applied to your face. The doctor then rolls over the skin with a device covered with fine needles that puncture the skin surface to encourage penetration of the plasma.
Does it work? Yes, but it’s probably the laser treatment and microneedling that improve the skin’s firmness and texture, not the application of the blood.
Pain factor: Burning, stabbing and a face covered in blood? Ow! The doctor may apply a numbing cream or local anesthetic, but your face is going to be inflamed and sore later.
Doctor required? Yes, although there are salons and home versions of the microneedling roller that have shorter, less painful needles.
Painless alternative: Be consistent about cleansing and exfoliating and follow up with products that contain peptides and other nutrients the skin needs to rejuvenate itself.