A daily skin care routine goes hand in hand with facial rejuvenation surgery. Smooth, fresh, youthful skin is vitally important to your appearance. A smooth complexion and good skin tone translates into improved and longer lasting results after a surgical procedure. The skin should be hydrated, dyschromias (brown spots, red spots) should be minimized, surface irregularities and wrinkles should be as smooth as possible.
There is no point in spending thousands of dollars on skin tightening/lifting surgery if your skin remains in poor condition and gives away your age. And don’t neglect your neck, chest, and hands! For professional help developing a skin care regimen specific to your needs, please call Desert Hills Plastic Surgery Center at 702-260-7707 for a consultation at our Las Vegas area office.
Getting Started With Skin Care
Anyone who cares about their appearance should be on a morning and night skin care routine. This is no different than following a healthy diet and getting regular exercise. Skin cancer prevention is an even more important benefit. All patients need to keep their skin clean, moisturized, and use daily sunscreen at the very minimum. It takes very little effort to incorporate healthy skin care habits into your daily routine starting at a young age.
First, you need to start with clean skin. Cleansers should be facial specific; just using the soap bar on your counter can be harsh and drying to the skin. Toners are used after cleansing to remove excess oils, makeup and residue. On a clean, dry face, corrective anti-aging products should be applied, followed by moisturizer and daily sunscreen in the morning. Corrective therapeutic products can by layered and alternated as desired and tolerated.
Both genetics and our environment affect skin quality and how it ages. There’s not a lot you can do to change your genetics, but you can prevent environmental damage. Smoking, alcohol use, drugs, regular partying in Las Vegas, excessive sun exposure, lack of sleep, sleeping on your face, extreme climates, pollution, lack of exercise, and an unhealthy diet will negatively affect the appearance of your skin.
What About Skin Care Products?
Skin care products will do you very little good without a concomitant healthy diet and lifestyle. Americans spend billions of dollars each year on topical anti-aging creams. Many products advertise dramatic results, but in reality, little evidence support these claims.
It is important to understand what ingredients work and are scientifically proven to improve skin quality. In addition, products need to have effective concentrations of key ingredients for efficacy.
- Retin-A, Retinoic Acid is listed first because it is one of the most scientifically studied and proven best anti-aging, products available. This vitamin-A derivative sweeps away dead cells, increases collagen, and increases skin thickness. It has been shown in many scientific studies to improve global skin appearance, wrinkling, roughness, and pigmentation. It is also non-comedogenic and can help prevent breakouts. It should be applied nightly and is not recommended for patients who are breast-feeding or pregnant, or those with a philosophy of excessive sun exposure. Strict use of sunscreen daily is required. It is also an exfoliant, stimulating cell turnover, and can cause mild intermittent skin irritation (redness and flaking). If skin irritation occurs, skip a few nights until symptoms resolve and then resume as tolerated. A 0.5%-1% topical cream is recommended.
- Hydroquinone is the most effective product for bleaching skin and fading hyperpigmentation (dark spots). Dab it directly on your dark spots, or over your entire face, but also make sure to apply sunscreen relentlessly. If UV rays hit your unprotected skin, the spots you’ve faded will resurface. Hydroquinone can be applied 1-2 times per day at strengths of 2-4%. Your physician in certain situations may compound increased strengths of hydroquinone for short-term and specific use. Some skin lighteners use natural ingredients such as kojic acid — a compound that comes from a fungus — and arbutin, a compound found in various plants. Avoid continued use of bleaching creams that contain steroids and other products that can damage the skin when used long-term.
- Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid) is one of the most well studied vitamins in anti-aging and has been proven effective in multiple studies. It is an important antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent. Improvements in surface texture, wrinkles, laxity, and sallowness are well documented. Look for effective concentrations at 5-20%.
- Alpha Hydroxyl Acids (AHAs) such as glycolic acid and lactic acid exfoliate the skin while regenerating new cells. This translates into a smoother complexion with less photo damage, while allowing other anti-aging ingredients to penetrate faster and work more effectively. At higher concentrations (25%), collagen and skin thickness increase. The effectiveness of glycolic acid is proportional to the duration of application and concentration. The FDA limits AHA concentration to less than 10% in over-the-counter products. Peels of 10-40% strength can be used in offices and salons by trained aesthetians. Plastic surgeons can perform even stronger glycolic or lactic acid peels with up to 80% AHA concentration. Regular application of lower concentration AHAs also significantly improves the appearance of skin without causing as much irritation, peeling, and downtime.
- Antioxidants scavenge free radicals, preventing their ability to damage and age skin. Vitamin E products such as tocopherols and tocotrienols are commonly seen on cosmetic labels. There are no studies showing an anti-aging benefit of topical vitamin E products. However, combining Vitamin E with Vitamin C enhances overall antioxidant capacity. Other antioxidants including green tea, pomegranate, coffeeberry, alpha lipoic acid, ubiquinone, and idebenone are commonly seen in skin care products. Their role is to save cells from environmental damage. Products with multiple antioxidants act synergistically and target free radicals in different ways, minimizing damage to the skin from the environment. However, the overall effect on the appearance of skin after regular use is probably more subjective, as studies are equivocal.
- Vitamin B derivatives such as Niacinamide have been shown in studies to improve wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, redness and blotchiness, skin yellowing, and to increase skin elasticity. Nicotinamide, another Vitamin B analog, improves skin hydration by increasing the synthesis of ceramide in the skin. Ceramides prevent water loss. Skin hydration is obviously important for the overall appearance of the skin. A newer Vitamin B derivative, 2-dimethylaminoethanol (DMAE), in 3% strength was shown to improve wrinkles, under-eye dark circles, and sagging skin.
- Pentapeptides are fragments of collagen, and can be effective in decreasing facial wrinkles and roughness, while maximizing hydration. Look for a 3% concentration in skin care products for maximum benefit. Peptide products often have Vitamin C and other antioxidants formulated in the product. Expect to hear more about these products in the future.
- Hyaluronic acid products are widely available in topical formulations. However, oral and topical preparations of hyaluronic acid have no scientifically proven benefit. Only injectable hyaluronic acid products such as Juvederm and Restylane improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles while adding volume and hydration to the skin. Hyaluronic acid needs to be delivered past the skin barrier for efficacy.
Any individual is capable of having youthful, healthy looking skin at any age. Start a morning and night skin care routine along with your healthy diet and exercise and try to avoid too much sun exposure and cigarette smoke. Get regular sleep, and take time to relax and minimize stress. Be compliant, and start sooner rather than later.
Results can be subjectively noticed as soon as 6 weeks, and objectively seen in 4-6 months. If in doubt about what to use, consult with your plastic surgeon about skin care lines and products that have proven benefit. Medical grade products are preferable to over-the-counter products. Just because a product is very expensive doesn’t mean it works. Don’t forget daily sunscreen with SPF of 20 or more and UVA and UVB protection, whether you are indoors or outdoors, rain or shine. Regular facials with an aesthetician will also enhance your results.
Please contact Desert Hills Plastic Surgery Center online or call 702-260-7707 to arrange a skin care consultation. Patients in and around the Las Vegas area are welcome, as are patients visiting us throughout the country.