© Steve Mason\Getty Images(© Steve Mason\Getty Images )

Wendy Bryant-Gow’s job is to worry about how other people look. “People always want to know how to look younger and slimmer,” says the Chapel Hill, N.C.-based image consultant.

But, lately, the newly divorced mother of two has started seeking her own fountain of youth—and her own advice.

“My 50th birthday is just around the corner, and my 30th high-school reunion is a few months away,” says Bryant-Gow. “I’ve been thrown back in the dating scene after all these years, and I’m surrounded by much younger women.”

Amid pressures to look younger in her personal and professional life, Bryant-Gow says that plastic surgery is not an option. Ever.

“I don’t want to do anything that’s invasive. I have two girls, so I don’t want to go under and not come out,” says Bryant-Gow. “I’m really just looking for a confidence boost.”

Most Americans seem to share this outlook; about nine out of 10 patients seeking to look younger want to do so without going under the knife, says Dr. David McDaniel, a dermatologist and the director of the Institute of Anti-Aging Research at East Virginia Medical School in Norfolk.

“People want to look like they’ve had plastic surgery without the surgery, the anesthesia, the down-time or the added expense,” McDaniel says. “The other thing is that people don’t want to look like they’ve had plastic surgery at all—they want to look like they’ve had rest or a vacation.”

Thankfully, shaving years off of your perceived age can be done without enlisting the help of a plastic surgeon (or taking a vacation). Here’s how:

Try Thermage

If you want cosmetic surgery without the surgery, consider Thermage. “In younger women, it can be comparable to a mini-face lift,” says McDaniel. “For older women, it’s an alternative to face-lift, but not quite an equivalent substitution.” 

Thermage is actually a type of radiofrequency treatment that uses heat to tighten the skin and stimulate collagen production. The Food and Drug Administration first approved of the technology in 2001, but only recently and after a series of equipment upgrades has Thermage begun yielding marked skin-tightening results, says McDaniel.

The procedure is particularly attractive to people who do not want plastic surgery because it’s noninvasive and requires no recovery time. The drawbacks of Thermage, however, are that it’s still a rather pricey solution (depending on how many treatments you get, the entire process could costs you several thousand dollars), and clients usually have to wait three to six months for the skin’s collagen to grow before seeing results.

Still, says McDaniel: “It just fits with the more active lifestyle that people have today.” 

Get a Massage

According to Joanna Czech, an esthetician who counts Uma Thurman, Kyra Sedgwick and Kate Winslet as regular clients, massage is not just for sore bodies—it’s also an important anti-aging tool.

“Massage can help keep your skin nice and firm; it is like a workout for your face muscles,” says Czech, who owns Sava Spa in Manhattan. The idea here is that kneading muscle tissue improves blood circulation, which in turn delivers nutrients and oxygen to the treated area. As a result, collagen fibers contained in the skin are more likely to retain their elasticity, she says.

Regular facials, which involve massage, are the ticket to keeping your face looking young, Czech says. The even better news is that massage works for the body, too. “It is simply the best way to prevent and minimize the appearance of cellulite. It makes the entire thigh and butt area look smoother,” she says.

Even the conditions of this solution don’t seem so bad. “If you want to see results, the most important thing, in my mind, is consistency,” says Czech. Ideally, this means receiving body massages and facials on a monthly basis. “We can reshape and improve women’s bodies until about the age of 60, so you can start this at any age,” Czech adds.  (After 60, collagen fibers have difficulty retaining their full elasticity—at this point, they’re like worn out rubber bands.)

But seriously, it’s a massage! Why wait?