Skin Care Basics
See More: Skin Institute
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
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?"
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