Get the Facts on Options to Improve Your Skin
● By Melissa Gulden
By Melissa Gulden
With so many treatments available when it comes to skincare, it’s no wonder most of us just throw our hands in the air and continue with our old routine, the way we’ve been doing it for years. Because “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” right? Not necessarily. Skin is our largest organ, so the more we know about taking care of it, the better. Here in the North State, there are numerous options—you just have to know where to start.
Let’s start with lasers. If aging, acne or too much time in the sun has left your face with wrinkles, scars or blotches, laser resurfacing may help your skin look younger and healthier. This procedure uses a laser—or beam of light—to improve skin’s appearance or treat minor facial flaws by removing layers of skin. The technique directs short, concentrated pulsating beams of light at irregular skin, precisely removing skin layer by layer. The two common types of resurfacing lasers are carbon dioxide (CO2), used to treat wrinkles, scars, warts and other conditions, and erbium, used to remove superficial and moderately deep lines and wrinkles on the face, hands, neck and chest.
What can be confusing about lasers is that people often think it’s one-laser-fits-all. But that is not the case. Julie Kaplan, owner of Disappearing Act, emphasizes that choosing the right laser is huge, and that comes with choosing a center that has not only experience but the right “tools in the shed,” Kaplan says. “I might use three or four different devices in one session in order to provide the best treatment for the patient.” Kaplan also stresses the difference between the energy devices themselves. Radiofrequency is different from Intense Pulse Light, which is different from lasers. Each is designed for different treatments. The laser that tightens skin may not be the same one to fade dark spots. Patients should have a consultation in order to determine the best option.
Daniel Lensink, MD, says his favorite thing to do is ablative laser treatments. Because he is a surgeon, he prefers to cut, which leaves an open wound not unlike a skinned knee; however, the patient receives dramatic results with one treatment. According to Lensink, the procedure “really improves the skin tone and texture.”
An alternative option to lasers is Ultherapy, a non-surgical form of skin tightening. Ultherapy uses ultrasound energy to lift and tighten the skin, and is an FDA-approved, noninvasive procedure to lift skin on the neck, jowl area, upper face, under the chin and even the décolleté. “It’s the deepest procedure you can get without surgery,” says Tiffany Digiuseppe of Artistry Aesthetics. By stimulating the deep structural support layers of the skin, a natural, regenerative process is initiated, stimulating the growth of new collagen, which lifts and tightens the skin over time.
Many doctor’s offices in the area offer BOTOX, a neurotoxin used to lessen the look of fine lines on the face. However, it is also used to treat muscle stiffness, muscle spasms, excessive sweating, overactive bladder or loss of bladder control. It can also be used to prevent chronic migraine headaches.
BOTOX targets one of the underlying causes of frown lines and crow’s feet—the repeated muscle contractions from frowning and squinting over the years. The muscles are injected with BOTOX to temporarily reduce muscle activity. Depending on the severity of the wrinkles, the specialist will administer several injections to temporarily reduce the activity of those muscles. How long they remain “frozen” varies by patient, but results tend to last up to four months. Patients should begin to notice a visible smoothing of crow’s feet and frown lines between the brows right away. BOTOX is one of the safest skincare procedures when used correctly, and is more affordable than most people think. The number of treatments depends on the individual, but for around $50 a month, you can budget those frown lines away!
Another treatment people are buzzing about (pardon the pun) is Thermage, a radiofrequency treatment that can help improve the appearance of sagging skin. There is no downtime with this treatment and results can last six months to a year. Kelsey Serht, an esthetician at Renew Dermatology, uses a bed analogy to describe Thermage. “It tightens and stimulates collagen, which is the mattress of the skin, and the laser treatment is the sheets.” She adds, “You still look like yourself, just refreshed and tightened.”
With so many options for skincare and treatments, be sure to do your research, meet with professionals and take your time in making the right decision for you and your skin. Remember, these treatments require some waiting time for results. If “instant gratification” is more your thing, in my next article, I will discuss fats and fillers.