In our last posting, we discussed ways for you to improve the appearance of your skin without having to visit the dermatologist.
Incorporating things such as sunscreens, moisturizers, and over-the-counter retinoids can all contribute to a more youthful appearance, but these changes are subtle and require long periods of time before they become noticeable. Minimizing exposure to ultraviolet radiation, whether from the sun or a tanning lamp, is beyond a doubt the most important (and simple) change you can make.
Once you have found a sunscreen that agrees with your skin type and a vehicle (ie, in moisturizer, in foundation, etc) that you are happy with, it’s time to move on to treatments that require finding a local dermatologist to help you achieve the goals you are hoping for.
Remember, there is no magic pill or cream that is going to turn back the clock, but you can achieve small, incremental differences that will contribute to the overall youthful look you seek.
Five ways to work with your dermatologist to improve the appearance of your skin:
- Topical retinoids. Retinoic acid has been shown in numerous, well-designed medial studies to decrease fine wrinkles and stimulate collagen growth. A variety of products are available on the market in different strengths and formulations. If you’ve been able to tolerate the over-the-counter retinoids, your skin is likely ready for one of the prescription-strength topicals. Retinoids should be incorporated into the daily use of any skin care regimen if a more youthful and even skin appearance is what you are after.
- Botulinum toxin. Currently available as two formulations – the well-known Botox® from Allergan and the newer Dysport™ from Medicis – botulinum toxin is a proven safe and effective means by which to eliminate wrinkles on the upper half of the face. Wrinkles are caused by the repeated movement of the muscles under the skin, so if you stop the muscles from contracting, the wrinkles can’t form. Consider botulinum toxin for use in 3 main areas: the horizontal forehead lines, the frown lines between eyebrows, and the crow’s feet at the outside edges of the eyes. The results appear 3 to 7 days after injection to these areas, and the effects of treatment last anywhere from 3 to 5 months.
- Fillers. A filler is an injectable substance use to plump up deeper wrinkles and folds. The most commonly used fillers – such as Juvéderm® from Allergan or Restylane® from Medicis – are hyaluronic acid (HA) formulas; HA is a naturally occurring component of the skin. HA fillers are commonly used in the deeper smile lines between the upper lip and the cheeks and for those annoying jowl lines that extend downward from the corners of the mouth. They are also commonly used to plump up thin lips. Results are essentially visible immediately, and the fillers last up to 6 months or more depending on the product used.
- Facial blood vessel treatment. Those little broken blood vessels that usually appear on and around the nose, extending out to the central cheeks, are often the result of chronic sun exposure. A variety of laser devices exist that are safe and highly effective in getting rid of them. Frequently, this requires more than one treatment session to make them disappear completely.
- Intense pulsed light (IPL). Often referred to as the “photofacial,” the IPL machine looks and feels like a laser. But while a laser emits light of one specific wavelength (color of light), the IPL emits at a range of wavelengths, so it can target both the red and brown discolorations of the face, resulting in a more even pigment. As with any light device, multiple treatment sessions are often necessary.
The treatments above are all fairly quick and easy things you can do to continue on the road to a more youthful, rejuvenated look. The real beauty of these treatments is that there is minimal risk involved and essentially zero downtime. You can think of these treatments as “lunchtime” things you can do and head back to the office or out to dinner that evening…
Stay tuned for Skin Rejuvenation 301 for a bit more involved treatments.