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Skin Care Basics

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Did you know each time you get a tan or a sunburn, your skin is getting a mini radiation treatment? A quality skin care regimen can help your skin undo some of that damage AND protect you from further damage. It's never too early or too late in life to start taking care of your skin.

The radiation you receive from sun exposure accumulates over time, ultimately giving your perfectly healthy skin a full radiation treatment that it didn't need. This radiation is the number one cause of aging changes like loss of elasticity, wrinkling and skin laxity, as well as skin cancer.

The following information is from an article on skin care basics written by Dr. Barbara Davies of Savannah Plastic Surgery.

If you're like me, you try really hard to be diligent about using the best sun blocks available (titanium and zinc based in my opinion). But let's face it, there are times you forget to re-apply it after you've been sweating or swimming, or worse yet, you simply forget to put it on at all!  So, in spite of your best efforts, particularly in this subtropical climate, you are simply going to get some sun damage. And winter sun is just as bad as summertime - the sun is actually closer to the earth in the winter months, so you are still receiving harmful rays.

So you are totally doomed to be all freckled and wrinkly, right? WRONG!!  A good skin care regimen can help your skin undo some of that damage and protect you from further damage. It is never too early or too late in life to start good skin care. Anecdotally, I occasionally meet older patients who decided to start Retin-A way back when it was first discovered and considered to be a fad or gimmick - it's always AMAZING to see how smooth, tight, and wrinkle free these seventy and eighty year old patients are! Their  skin is easily twenty years younger looking.

What exactly do we mean by " regimen"? Reg-i-men as defined by Webster is a regulated system of diet exercise, etc. for the therapy or the maintenance or improvement of health. As applied to skin care," regimen" simply means a few steps added to your normal skin care once or twice a day to improve the health and beauty of your skin. A typical routine involves cleansing, exfoliation, toning, treatment with an active ingredient, moisturizer and sunblock. Added to this can be bleaching creams, anti-inflammatories, special acne medication, etc.

And all of these many steps can be distilled into as few as two or three steps (ie., cleansing, treatment, and moisturizer) so a routine can be customized to suit your lifestyle. Usually a skin care establishment will carry several products lines so something can be found to suit your needs as well as your pocketbook. In our Skin Institute here at Savannah Plastic Surgery, we carry eight different skin care lines, so there is always something for everyone!


The "treatment" step is usually Retin-A (tretinoin, vitamin A derivatives), which helps stimulate the skin to turn over faster, increasing your own exfoliation process and plumping the skin. This is also the ingredient that causes the most complaints, with redness and peeling that can be unsightly.  There used to be only one strength, so almost everyone had to suffer through about six weeks of peeling, which could be quite unpleasant. Currently, there are various strengths, so your routine can be modified to avoid the bad flaking, although it might take a longer time to reach your goals. Because Retin-A makes you sun sensitive, it must be stopped in the summertime, however, vitamin C is an excellent substitute and CAN be used in summer sun. Vitamin C not only reverses sun damage, but limits the amount of damage you get from the sun in the first place. Niacin is also another nice active ingredient- it has a little of the sun sensitivity, but not as bad as Retin-A. It's unusual side effect is flushing of the skin (yes, like a mild hot flash) when you first use it.

"So, how do I get started on this skin care regimen?"
Ideally, you visit a licensed aesthetician where there is a physician ON SITE. The aesthetician evaluates your skin type, talks with you about specific problems that you wish to address, and reviews your lifestyle. Together, you choose one of the many skin care lines that has the right number and kind of products to address your particular desires AND that will suit your daily routine. In a few weeks, you have a follow up visit to see if you have been using the products properly, to see if they suit your normal routine, and to evaluate whether you are achieving your goals. At that time, adjustments are made, if needed.

Only in a physician's office can you buy prescription-strength active ingredients. Even if it's the same product (such as a bleaching agent), nothing over-the-counter can match the strength of a product from a physician's office - no matter WHAT you paid for it!  Also, some products, such as Retin-A, are by prescription only. Because of the strength of products, it is best to have on-site physician availability, although bad reactions are extremely rare (and usually consistent of exuberant redness and peeling from Retin-A). And only in a physician's office are the "next step" items available - blue peels, plasma treatments, and laser resurfacing, for example. These go notably beyond daily routines, and are for those who have maximized results from topical lotions yet want more, or those who simply want to skip the protocols and jump to a more definitive treatment.

A licensed aesthetician can also do slightly more vigorous treatments like micro-dermabrasion, derma-filing, and derma-planning. In a physician's office, these procedures can be followed by topical treatments that are stronger than can be found in day spas - usually some version of topical (light) acids to accentuate exfoliation (sounds dreadful but feels GREAT!).  There is also the crossover treatment of laser hair removal that can be found in most physician's skin institutes, day spas, and as stand-alone facilities.

The main difference between spas and a physician's skin institute is that the physician is aiming for serious changes in wrinkling, freckling, and general composition of the skin and stronger medications and modalities are used that are not available in a spa. After a visit to a physician's office, a patient's skin will feel good, but one is more likely to be red, patchy, tingly, maybe flaky, and maybe even blue around the edges!  After all, this is serious skin care!!  A spa will treat the skin more gently with less harsh topicals and will leave one feeling far more pampered and soothed.  The bottom line is that there is a place for both, and both are desirable.

So if you've never had a skin care regimen, it's not too late! There's no time like the present to start working toward smoother, clearer, tighter, more youthful skin!

Skin Care Basics Savannah

About Savannah Plastic Surgery

We want to be your first choice when it comes to cosmetic surgery, skin care, and life enhancing services delivered by a team committed to compassion, education, and excellence.

Using a delicate balance of science and art, our physicians can customize every surgery to meet your personal needs and goals. Our surgeons: Dr. Barbara Davies, Dr. Carl Pearl, Dr. Luke Curtsinger, Dr. Matthew McLeod, and Dr. Scott Vann recognize that no two people are alike. You are unique and we are, too.

We now offer complimentary consultations for cosmetic surgery. Contact us today to begin your body transformation.

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