By: Mallory Spoor-Baker | Category: Health & Beauty | Issue: June 2012
Acquiring beautiful skin is a process that takes time and requires adopting healthy habits.
What is skin health? On the surface, it’s a new catch phrase in the cosmetic and aesthetic industry – a phrase to catch your attention. What does it mean? To me, it is in reference to devices and procedures which are supposed to promote healthier skin. I have been approached by several companies that are promoting these devices which perform the newest and greatest treatment for healthy skin. I don't know yet. If they sound too good to be true, they probably are.
What is skin health, really? Skin health, to me, means the appearance of healthy-looking skin: moist, soft, clear, bright, resilient. You get the idea. How do we get it? The answer to that is very broad. Acquiring healthy skin is a process that realistically takes several months as well as several activities to get the results you may want. Just like getting our bodies healthy, we have to eat right, exercise and change bad habits in order to affect change to ourselves. It’s all a process, right? It takes some time and repeat effort at getting all the good activities in place and getting rid of all the bad activities. It's also not a linear path to achieve these things. Sometimes it’s one step forward and two steps back.
In my practice, which I’ve had since 1996, skin health has always meant encouraging my patients to take better overall care with the activities that damage skin and then performing procedures and applying products to get rid of the signs of the damage.
Many of you are familiar with these procedures, which include different laser treatments such as IPL, Laser Genesis, and Pearl. These are three different laser procedures that do different things. I prefer laser procedures over surface procedures like chemical peels and microdermabrasion because lasers treat the whole skin, not just the outermost layers. I also feel that laser procedures, when applied correctly and safely, have the most value per dollar spent because they usually affect more than one problem and do not require as many treatments. You could have five microdermabrasion treatments, for example, and your skin might be slightly smoother, but you still have redness and prominent texture and wrinkles. Five Laser Genesis treatments can significantly reduce redness, texture, and pore size.
I could write pages and pages addressing the various procedures that are available and what they do. Anyone can come to my office and have a complimentary consult and find out what I might recommend. I would caution you to consider that any treatment that you hear about that is strictly for the surface will only marginally improve sun damage and aging skin because they are only superficial. To get at long-standing sun and age-related damage you must go deeper; you must use some type of laser. What type is used will depend on your skin type (color, tanning, characteristics), overall sun exposure history, and goals. You may also have to endure some degree of recovery or down time. All of this, again, depends on what you are trying to achieve. Sometimes I ask my patients, “Where do you want to go and how fast do you want to get there?” Having said that, however, I don't think you have to be drastic in your approach – the more aggressive the procedure, the higher degree of risk of significant down time or injury. I try to tailor treatment protocols to what the patient is trying to achieve.
Skin health can take some time and effort. I don't believe that there is any new procedure available that can do anything magic. I think we are seeing newer, updated versions of the same devices. It’s been my professional experience that device companies allude to much greater results than their device actually delivers, and in the wrong hands can potentially do a great deal of damage. So be aware that there is no great quick fix for anything.
I also believe that to achieve true skin health, you must pursue activities that promote body health. You must eat better – fruits and vegetables! You must drink more water. You must get more sleep and try to decrease stress. You must control your sun exposure and stop smoking! You must exercise. Your body and therefore your skin is a living organism that must be fed and protected to live a long, full life. If you want to look better, you must be responsible and responsive to your skin and your body's needs. If you beat yourself up, you will look beat up.
Promote your skin’s health by taking care of it. Protect it and feed it. Treat it with various procedures, if you can and if you want to. Your face and your body will thank you, and you will live a longer, healthier life because of your efforts.