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Need results fast? The ultimate guide to treatments with max impact and zero downtime

Written by
Chloë James

You can spend days, weeks, or even months deliberating over a cosmetic treatment – and sometimes that still manages to be the quickest part of the process. Just like a healthy diet or workout regime, a lot of treatments require commitment and patience before you get to enjoy the full benefits.

That’s not to say they aren’t working hard in the meantime. Mesotherapy injections nourish skin, smooth wrinkles, and stimulate hair growth from day one, but it takes three weeks for the vitamins and minerals to work their magic and make a visible difference. Similarly, even though clinicians start zapping and destroying the follicles of your hair in the first session of laser hair removal, it only starts to thin a few weeks later – and it takes an average of six sessions (as well as top-up appointments) to see the full impact.

The same can be said for surgical procedures. While the results can be life-changing, even the most minimally invasive procedures come with some sort of recovery period. Side-effects such as swelling, redness, or tenderness are temporary – and the results are worth the wait – but they do rule out several procedures in the run-up to a special occasion.

But, sometimes, you just want a quick fix. Whether it’s for a big night out, a holiday, or a quick confidence boost, there are options for a last-minute boost without the lengthy downtime.

Quick-fix treatments


Best for: adding volume, smoothing out fine lines and wrinkles, and improving facial symmetry

With the ability to do everything from enhancing lips to smoothing out a bump in your nose, filler is probably the most versatile quick-fix treatment – and its results are immediate. Sessions take around 30 minutes (depending on the size of the area you’re treating) and you can see an increase in volume as soon as it’s injected.

You might experience some mild swelling – especially in sensitive areas such as the lips, which can look slightly bigger than you intended for a few days – but this is usually short lived. The results, on the other hand, can last somewhere between six and 12 months.


Best for: smoothing out fine lines

Botox has a reputation as a lunchtime beauty treatment, and for good reason. In as little as 15 minutes, it can be injected into specific areas to temporarily block nerve signals and paralyse the muscles.

Most people use it to prevent or delay the formation of fine lines and wrinkles that appear when your face moves, but relaxing the muscles can also soften the jawline, make your top lip appear larger, and even control the oiliness of your skin.

Although the session is short, results aren’t quite as speedy. While it can take as long as three weeks for some people, on average you start to see Botox working in two or three days. It’s not quite instant gratification though, so it takes some scheduling in advance – but, as it involves zero downtime, you can have it as close to an event as you’d like.

Chemical peel

Best for: brightening and smoothing skin

To be clear, deep chemical peels are not a quick fix. As the acid penetrates so far beneath the surface, it can take several weeks to recover from the redness, swelling, and literal peeling of skin. A superficial peel, however, uses milder solutions such as salicylic or glycolic acid. This gently exfoliates just the top layer of skin, removing all the dirt, bacteria, and dead skin cells that have gathered over time.

Multiple or deeper peels might produce more dramatic results, but a light peel can still markedly improve dryness, hyperpigmentation, acne, and fine lines. Just expect a bit of extra sensitivity afterwards and be sure to stock up on SPF.


Best for: hydrating and smoothing skin

You’ll need several HydraFacials for smoother, firmer, brighter skin in the long run, but one is enough for a quick boost. Each treatment starts with a deep cleanse to remove dead skin cells before a chemical exfoliation to prep you for an extraction of dirt and oil. The final step treats skin to a deeply hydrating serum of antioxidants.

A HydraFacial takes an hour to complete and results last for about a week. You should be able to see an improvement in hydration and texture straight away, although it takes monthly sessions to see any change in the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, or dark spots.


Best for: smoothing and evening out skin tone

Fine lines, clogged pores, mild acne, and skin dullness are just some of the concerns targeted by microdermabrasion. Each session sees crystals buff away dead skin cells to unveil the healthier-looking skin underneath, improving both its appearance and texture.

It’s unrealistic to expect microdermabrasion to totally erase every concern overnight, but every session – including the first – brings a gradual change. Skin might look slightly pink immediately after your session, and it’s generally recommended that you don’t wear makeup for the rest of the day. Other than that, you’re good to go.

Steroid shots for acne

Best for: soothing cystic acne

Left to its own devices, cystic acne can take weeks to fully heal. But there is a way to speed up the process: steroid shots. By injecting cortisone – a synthetic version of the hormone cortisol – directly into each cyst, it can take just 24 hours to reduce inflammation, swelling, and redness.

They’re possibly the quickest of quick fixes for acne but aren’t suitable for every kind of breakout. Also, they shouldn’t be treated as a regular part of your beauty regime. Repeated injection of cortisone can lead to dents or thinning of the skin (also known as atrophy) over time. To avoid this, dermatologists recommend that you repeat treatment no more than once every six weeks, or three to four times a year.

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