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The No-Knife Eye Lift

For busy moms, the holidays deliver a special double whammy: 'Tis the season to go out and look your best, but you're so tired and tense that you may feel closer to your worst.

Picking a Procedure - And a Price

Want big results, no matter how much it costs or hurts? Or is visible but modest improvement good enough? Check out your choices, and all the costs-physical as well as financial.

For a Dramatic Change

Muscle Relaxer (Botox)
What it is: Purified substance from bacteria that helps relax muscles so sagging lids, brow furrows, and crepey skin look more taut.
Cost: $300 to $600 for the eye area
Lasts for: Three to 6 months (the longer you use it, the better your results)
Pain factor: Mild soreness afterward. Also possible: headache, slight bruising, or just a weird awareness that something is in your forehead.

Hyaluronic Acid Gel Filler (like Restylane or Juvéderm)
What it is: The synthetic version of a naturally occurring protein-sugar compound found in skin. It binds to water and plumps facial folds or fills in undereye hollows.
Cost: $500 to $1,000 per injection
Lasts for: Up to 9 months
Pain factor: Minimal discomfort-even with a topical anesthetic or nerve block. Also possible: swelling
and/or bruising (which makeup can disguise).

Targeted Energy Treatment (like Fraxel or Portrait)
What it is: Procedure that uses infrared light, radio frequency waves, or other forms of energy to go deep into skin to boost collagen and diminish lines and wrinkles.
Cost: $1,500 to $3,000, depending on how many facial areas you target
Lasts for: A series works best; if you have 3 to 6 sessions, results will last a year or more.
Pain factor: Slight burning or prickling sensation during, with possible redness and/or peeling for several days after.

Visible Improvement

Microdermabrasion
What it is: Micronized crystals remove dirt, dead cells, and discoloration from skin surface so eye crinkles and forehead lines look smoother.
Cost: $100 to $300 per treatment; best done in 6 to 12 sessions over 6 months
Lasts for: One treatment lasts about a week; repeat for lasting benefits.
Pain factor: No pain; possible redness after.

A Topical Retinoid
What it is: Vitamin A derivative. In prescription and over-the-counter creams, it speeds up cell turnover to diminish wrinkles and discoloration. Try RoC Retinol Correxion Eye Cream (shown) or Renova (prescription only).
Cost: $20 for OTC and $50 to $100 for Rx
Lasts for: Indefinitely, as long as you use the cream regularly. Initial results take about 6 weeks.
Pain factor: Some redness, flaking, skin sensitivity; will burn eyes, so apply carefully.

At-Home Peel
What it is: An active chemical (like glycolic acid) removes superficial layer of skin and promotes collagen production. One to try: Olay Regenerist Thermal Contour and Lift System (shown).
Cost: $15 to $250
Lasts for: If you use it monthly, you will get a glow and maintain a more even texture.
Pain factor: Nothing severe: a little tingle during; possible redness after.

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