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The Best Cosmetic Procedures - How to Improve Your Face and Body Without Surgery

29 Nov, 2016
By Daniela Massenz
'Tis the season of rest and renewal, not to mention parties and bikinis... What better time to discover the latest and best non-surgical face and body treatments that go more than skin deep?

Most of us have a few niggles about our appearance. We either accept it as part of who we are, or find out how to tackle these. There have never been so many options for skin maintenance, repair and improvement, and many young women are taking preventive measures to ensure their skin stays good looking for as long as possible. It goes without saying that the sooner you take preventive measures, such as religiously protecting your skin from too much sun exposure and using creams with effective active ingredients like antioxidants and peptides, the fewer sun damage issues you will have to deal with in your thirties and forties.
When it comes to technology, you can adjust things that make you unhappy (like breast size) with cosmetic surgery. But we think the really interesting work is happening somewhere in the intensive professional non-surgical treatment arena. Improve skin quality, and everything else will look better. The whole trend in skin care and treatments is to improve and maintain what you have, rather than try to fix what is damaged.
The new tech helps maintain what you have, tweaks your bugbears, and can make a true difference to the quality and appearance of your skin without the surgeon’s scalpel. The most popular of these, of course, are Botox, chemical peels, fillers (especially for lips), light and laser treatments.
Science and technology brings us ever-smarter machines that promise to improve skin structure, tone and elasticity. You can buy some of these technologies and DIY, but the results you’ll obtain when you go the high-tech, professional route will be more intensive and much safer in the hands of an expert technician.
Of course, no cream or tech can have the same result you can expect from a skillfully wielded scalpel (and many plastic surgeons are using these therapies with or instead of surgery), but most of us aren't looking for extreme results. Find the 'scalpel-free' solutions that suit your preference and pocket among our hot contenders.
The number of sessions required depends on the treatment and your therapeutic need. Ask the therapist to give you an estimate, and you may be able to negotiate a better cost with a treatment package. With many of these treatments, no matter how bad the condition is, you should notice a difference in anything between one to three treatments.

A lesson in trauma

It's important to understand that many of the treatments featured below (Fraxel, fillers, chemical peels, mesotherapy, etc.) work by creating damage in the deeper layers of the skin, the dermis, in some way - through heating, wounding, etc. - to trigger the release of natural repair substances and start the healing process that boosts the production of collagen, making the area denser, plumper and firmer and the skin on the surface smoothed out.

Words of warning

  • Wherever you decide to have your treatment, do your homework first. See that the clinic is qualified, with trained staff (ask to see certificates of training) and with preferably with accreditation by either CIDESCO or SAAHSP.
  • There are many cowboys (and girls) out there who offer dodgy treatments with suspect technology and unqualified technicians. And then there are the counterfeit versions of Botox® and fillers on the market, used by unscrupulous injectors and which can cause adverse effects. Here are some points to ponder from Renee Rouleau.
  • Get word-of-mouth recommendation from people you trust, research the tech, and ask for their accreditation as technicians and injectors. For injectables, ask to see the packaging to check it’s legit. For Botox®, for instance, the label on a certified vial has a hologram.
  • Don't leap at the too-good-to-be-true (they often are!) online discount offers unless you know that the clinic has a good reputation. A good guideline for go-to places is our recommended list of clinics.
  • Of course, as with any procedure, there is a small chance that things may go wrong. The clinic should be prepared to help you deal with any unhappy results, within reason.


YOUR CONCERN: Thin or lopsided lips, premature lines, filling out hollow cheeks, laugh lines, sunken eyes.
  • Fillers like Restylane and Juvederm. These contain hyaluronic acid (HA), the intercellular goo that is skin's own moisture magnet, or HA stimulators to attract water to skin cells and keep it there, plumping them up and smoothing out lines. Fillers are the domain of plastic surgeons, dermatologists and aesthetic doctors, not skin-care therapists.
They are injected into the chosen area to replace volume. After injection, the doctor massages the area, moving the filler around with her hands to 'sculpt' it into place and achieve a finished look.
The results are instant but not permanent, as our body's enzymes cause the injected filler to break down eventually. As technology improves, fillers are lasting longer - lips last up to nine months, and thicker fillers (used on other areas) last longer.

Restylane and Juvederm (approved by the US FDA) are well known and trusted, and there are other natural and synthetic new versions of HAs around, but do your homework to see how effective they are and if they are legit.
The good news is that HA fillers also encourage collagen growth and most people deposit new collagen around it, so your lips will always be a bit plumper than they were before. You should see a continuous improvement for three months after injection.
Caution: Lip augmentation should be done conservatively, to restore or correct imbalance, not to overfill, or you end up with a duck-pout. Injecting fillers is truly an art and you should research to find out who has the best reputation with fillers.

YOUR CONCERN: Depressed (hollow) scars from chicken pox or acne
  • OR Light/L600 - a new-generation square pulsed light (laser).
    This quick, pain-free treatment reduces scars while improving general skin texture through triggering your own collagen production.
  • 2B Bio Beauty Maestro Peel: A 5-day skin repair chemical peel with an innovative exfoliation action which results in astonishing skin improvement especially on acne/scarred skin. Expect downtime but this is absolutely worth the results. Best of all, it's 100 % natural and suitable for all skin types (subject to consultation). For more info click here.
  • Accor - a non-invasive cosmetic corrector that vaporises targeted skin with plasma technology, so that the raised edges of an acne crater are eventually levelled out. Collagen production is also stimulated in the hollow area. It's also good for tightening loose skin around the eyes.
  • Réjuvapen Micro Needle Pen - Mesotherapy injects vitamins and supplements into the skin through micro-channels made with microscopic needles. The healing response boosts new collagen, elastin and blood vessels. New FDA-approved Réjuvapen has nine tiny needles that can be adjusted to different depths, depending on the level the therapist wants to reach. Peptides that stimulate elastin and collagen penetrate the micropunctures (which close within 24 hours) created by the pen. Its small head makes it easy to target scarring accurately.  
YOUR CONCERN: Oily skin, enlarged pores and/or acne
  • Affinity liquid jets skin delivery system (a type of mesotherapy) - it boosts skin health, repair & healing without any injury to the skin. Instead of using needles, jet therapy uses suction to propel the active liquid (which is compatible with your pores) through the pores into the dermis. This stimulates the production of 'immune cells'' in the skin for general skin repair. Different ingredients (like glycolic or lactic acid) are used for different results. It helps with acne breakouts as the immune cells destroy bad skin bacteria, reduces oiliness and improves pore size. 
  • Serenity LED - NASA-based pulsed LED technology scientifically proven to improve skin texture and complexion. It's excellent for 'fast repair' and elimination of acne and blemishes through its simultaneous anti-bacterial and repair effect.
  • 2B Bio Beauty: Bio Peel and Maestro Peel - 100 % natural cosmeceutical peels for treating oily skin and pigmentation.
    • Bio Peel: one-hour in-salon peel addressing a multitude of skin conditions in 1 treatment.
    • Maestro Peel: 5-day skin repair chemical peel leaves a marked skin improvement - especially beneficial for acne, scarred and oily skin.
    • Caution: subject to consultation, these peels may be used to treat any ethnicity. Not suitable for use during pregnancy or breastfeeding.

YOUR CONCERN: Melasma (dark pigmentation marks) influenced by hormones (from 'the Pill' and pregnancy)
  • OrLight /L600 new-generation square pulsed light (laser). This offers outstanding results for epidermal sun damage & freckle removal. If done correctly, the marks will be successfully and safely removed in five to 21 days. Be prepared for downtime.
  • Serenity LED: NASA-based pulsed LED technology scientifically proven to improve skin texture and complexion. It's excellent for 'fast repair' and elimination of blemishes.
  • Affinity liquid jets skin delivery system. Delivers an excellent result as a full-face treatment for pigmentation, showing a significant improvement on dermal pigmentation, while creating a 3D skin repair effect.
  • 2B Bio Beauty Peels. A highly effective holistic approach to treating pigmentation using safe, active botanicals that work both internally & externally. 
YOUR CONCERN: Double chin, jowls, slack jawline
  • BTL EXILIS® Elite Radio frequency (RF) skin firming and contouring
    The globally renowned BTL machines are relatively new in SA. If a firmer jawline is your desire, the BTL EXILIS is the one for you. It works by using RF to heat deeper skin layers and stimulate collagen. The heat also shrinks loose skin tissue, causing it to tighten and lift up. Your body eliminates the ‘melted’ fat cells naturally.
    You need at least four sessions for best results.

YOUR CONCERN: Under eye dark circles/bags
  • Orlight /L600 (skin rejuvenation setting) - a new-generation square pulsed light laser. This quick, pain-free treatment improves general skin texture through triggering your own collagen production and gives an immediate 'mini-lift' to tired looking eyes. Instant reduction in puffiness with no downtime.
  • Accor - Non-surgical blepharoplasty procedure that tightens loose skin around the eyes and leaves eye area dramatically improved. Between 1-3 treatments needed.
  • Affinity - a type of mesotherapy that boosts skin health and repair without any injury to the skin. An effective, painless treatment that will improve dark circles, lines and wrinkles over a series of treatments through stimulating production of immune cells. 
YOUR CONCERN: Age prevention, skin quality on face, neck and décolletage (chest area)
  • Fractional Resurfacing - Fraxel - laser
    Fraxel has excellent results in improving skin texture, tone and firmness (by treating elasticity loss) and generally strengthening skin. The laser works by targeting and removing damaged collagen, so the body has no option but to replace it with new, healthy collagen. Instead of targeting the skin in wide layers, it works in columns, so it's able to penetrate deeply deeper than an ablative CO2 laser without leaving the skin raw and oozing (as happens with an ablative laser). You only treat about 20 percent of the skin at a time and the gaps in between serve as a safety network, so the skin doesn't peel. It flakes a bit, but there's no rawness or oozing. The damaged collagen, felt as slightly rough patches on the surface a few days later, is extruded from the skin.The depth of penetration of the light determines the area the doctor treats. Pigmentation is treated more superficially layers of the skin, whereas mild to moderate wrinkles are treated in the mid dermis. Scars are treated as deeply as the patient can tolerate (the new collagen fills up the scar from below). Fraxel works very well on darker skin to improve texture and to treat scarring from acne and even stretch marks could be improved. And results keep improving as the collagen reinfiltrates the treated area. As Fraxel increases the skin's elasticity, it improves the success of any other surgical or laser treatments that come later, and their effects last much longer.
  • Orlight/L600 (skin rejuvenation setting) - a new-generation square pulsed light laser. An instant skin booster with obvious signs of reduced lines and wrinkles. Instant glow and smoothing of skin is achieved in under 2 minutes, leaving skin looking rested and lifted. No pain/downtime.
  • Serenity LED - NASA-based pulsed LED technology scientifically proven to improve skin texture, complexion and reduce signs of ageing. A painless and relaxing 30-minute treatment which stimulates and rejuvenates the mitochondria of every cell, tightening skin and promoting muscle cell growth.
  • Accor - Soft surgery - tightening of skin around eyes, removing smokers' lines and mini 'facelifts'. 5-14 days' downtime.
  • 2B Bio Beauty Bio Peel - 100 % natural cosmeceutical peel for premature ageing. One-hour in-salon peel which addresses a multitude of skin conditions in just 1 treatment.                                                              
  • Affinity liquid jets skin delivery system (a type of mesotherapy) - boosts skin health; repair & healing without any injury to the skin. Instead of using needles, jet therapy uses suction to propel the active liquid (which is compatible with your pores) through the pores into the dermis. This stimulates the production of 'immune cells' in the skin for general skin repair. Different ingredients (like glycolic or lactic acid) are used for different results. This is a gradual, non-invasive approach to softening and reducing ageing signs with no pain/downtime.

Hope for darker complexions

Many Indian, brown and black people aren’t able to have certain types of laser and light treatment to treat pigmentation, hair removal, etc., because the light is absorbed by the pigment in the skin, and can result in burning or damage. The good news is Fraxel, OrLight, Affinity, Serenity and 2B Bio Beauty may be used on even very dark skins. To be absolutely certain, however, it is recommended that you see the therapist and do a patch test on a small section of skin, wait 48 hours to see the results, and then proceed.


YOUR CONCERN: Overgrown bikini lines, underarms, upper lip hair, chin whiskers and other undergrowth
Important to know: There's no such thing as permanent hair removal, but rather permanent hair reduction, as these treatments may destroy hair follicles, so they won't ever produce hair again, but dormant follicles may become active.
Two state-of-the art technologies target just the hairs, and not surrounding pigment in the skin, so they can be used on most skin tones. They also help eliminate in-grown hairs.
For dark hairs, we recommend:
  • Orlight - a new-generation square pulsed light laser. This French technology offers very fast, almost painless progressively permanent hair removal for all skin types and skin tones. It uses selective thermolysis, where light is attracted to the hair follicles, travelling down the shaft and zapping the living root bulb, carbonising the hair and follicle. Different hand pieces are used for lighter and darker skins. If you want an independent and glowing review on the effectiveness of this treatment and why it is worth the money, click here.
  • The alternative is the L600 series, the predecessor to OrLight.
  • Cryogen Specific Hair Removal Laser. This treatment targets the pigment in the hair and not the surrounding tissue, making it safe to use on almost all skin types. It cools the skin precisely before each pulse with cryogen, instead of the non-specific air cooling generally used. Length of treatment: The aim of this treatment is to destroy the hair follicle of actively growing hair (in the anagen phase), so a course of treatments at six week intervals is needed to show good results. If you’re predisposed to hormonal issues, come in at 5 weeks. Six to eight treatments usually get rid of at least 80-90 percent of hair, unless there are are complications.
  • Cautions:
    • If you have unmanaged hormonal challenges, such as polycystic ovarian syndrome, adult acne breakouts, insulin-resistance, this is what’s causing hair growth on your chin, and these hairs can be resistant. You need to manage the hormonal issues first (see an endocrinologist to help rectify your hormone imbalance), then have the hair removal treatment, or the results will not be satisfactory. You may also need to accept that this will be a hair management programme rather than permanent hair removal.
    • On very dark complexions, underlying conditions can make you more photosensitive (prone to sunburn). Consultation is important before as a precaution, and have a test patch.
    • Prone to cold sores? You may have a breakout afterwards, so use prophylactic Acyclovir.
    • With any laser treatment, Be more vigilant about sun exposure for at least four weeks before treatment. It is essential you use a good quality sunscreen, such as Bioderma Photoderm Max SPF 50+ or BioNike 50+ Defence Sun Cream between treatments. 
For fair and white hairs, we recommend:
  • Electrolysis. The therapist inserts a tiny needle into the follicle, and zaps the bulb with electric current. It is the only clinically proven method able to eliminate white or blonde hair permanently. It may also need multiple visits to catch the growth stage of each hair. 
YOUR CONCERN: A deep frown that makes people remark you look angry all the time. Your one eyelid is lazy. Your brows are lopsided. You’re starting to see horizontal lines on your forehead because you have a very expressive face.
By your late twenties, you may start noticing the first signs of ageing on your forehead and eye area. Vertical lines between the eyes caused by frowning appear very early on and are more obvious after 30, and the very thin skin near your eyes shows early wrinkles easily. Facial muscle movement is the culprit. These move minutely thousands of times a day and as skin starts to age, it loses its ability to return to a smooth, unlined state.
  • Botulinum toxin (an enzyme purified from Botulinum bacteria). This muscle-relaxing agent treats any overactive muscle by blocking the nerve signal. You probably know it as Botox®, but that’s the brand name of the product by Allergan available in SA. The other approved brand is Dysport.
    Many of us find the idea of injecting a lethal toxin into our faces scary, but it must be understood that the dose is miniscule and that it’s been used safely for thirty years in much higher doses to treat medical conditions like muscular spasm and migraines.
    Botox has many uses. It smooths lines, prevents compulsive frowning and it can be used to treat stringy necks. But it’s very popular for eyebrow shaping as injecting it with precision can lift droopy eyes very effectively.
    Botox is seen as a preventive treatment, and regular use improves the skin condition. For the time the muscle is immobilised, it can’t perform the repetitive motions that contribute to lines. Repeated injection causes the overactive muscles to atrophy, a similar effect as happens when you have your leg in a plaster cast.

YOUR CONCERN: Hyperhidrosis (overactive sweat glands in your armpits or your hands)
Some of us battle with severe underarm sweating (severe primary axillary hyperhidrosis) or severe hand sweating (palmar hyperhidrosis), which can cause emotional distress as we are acutely aware of these conditions, and which can lead to social avoidance.  Antiperspirants and topical medicines can help, but not always, especially when the condition is severe. In that case...
  • Botulinum toxin - commonly known as Botox. It is injected into the area, and blocks the chemical signal from nerves, without which sweat glands can’t turn on the sweat. You must see an experienced medical professional for this.

YOUR CONCERN: In-grown hairs or alopecia (hair loss on head, face and body)
  • Serenity LED - NASA-based pulsed LED technology. It works on the principle of stimulating cell mitochondria to help hair grow. Use combined therapy with a stimulating shampoo, hairloss treatment and vitamin supplements.  

YOUR CONCERN: Benign moles and skin tags
  • Accor non-invasive cosmetic corrector. Plasma technology which vaporises the targeted skin without downtime. Quick & easy removal of moles, skin tags, brown spots & small tattoos. 


Botulinum toxin and fillers: Research the best-known doctors in your area, and ask to see before and after pictures to see if you like their work.
Fraxel, Cryogen Specific Hair Removal Laser, vascular laser: Cosmetic Dermatology Centre, Cape Town, 021 552-7220,
Laserderm Johannesburg 011 341-0580, Pretoria 012 460-4646.
Réjuvapen: Skin ID
OrLight, Affinity, Accor, BioPeel, Serenity LED: These are available at a number of different salons around the country. For the location and contact details of the clinics who offer these, please call Beauty Clinic Vienna at 011-782 1015.
Rough cost guidelines on the treatments offered – prices may vary from salon to salon.
Orlight: Offers such a wide variety of treatments, it's difficult to supply all costs. However, as a benchmark, for different types of hair removal per session: R295 (lip), R550 (underarm), R660 (half face), R1000 (bikini).
Serenity: From R500/session.
Affinity: R1650/session.
Accor: From R750 – R3500/session depending upon treatment.
2B Bio Beauty: Bio Peel R795; Maestro Peel R3750.

Electrolysis: Studio B Electrolysis Hair Removal, Sea Point, 021 434 2893. Beauty Clinic Vienna, Randburg, 011 782 1015
BTL EXILIS®: Look for stockists on BTL Aesthetics South Africa's Facebook page: 071 6090322.

Do you have a beauty problem that’s really bugging you? Ask our experts now.


Do you have a beauty problem that’s really bugging you? Ask our experts now