Summer is a lot harder on our bodies than we realize. All that time outdoors means too much sun (a notorious skin-ager) and for many, too much activity. All those golf and tennis days can take a toll on your legs. Fall is a good time to reset, to give your body a little TLC.
Your delicate face likely took a beating during summer. But if you lavish it with extra vitamins and emollients, and follow the advice of your skincare professional, it can be party-perfect for all those holiday get-togethers!
Restore the Skin
“As we age, we naturally lose collagen, elastin and hyaluronic acid from the skin. Sunlight accelerates that process,” says Dr. Brock Ridenour, a facial plastic surgeon at Ridenour Plastic Surgery. “In the fall we should be thinking about restoring the skin qualities we would like to see.”
The best way to do that is with a good daily regimen, says Carol Anderson, R.N., a certified aesthetic nurse specialist who operates Nouveau, A Boutique Medspa. “The most important things are good cleansing habits and skin care products that have clean, quality ingredients,” she says, advising daily doses of vitamins A and C.
“For a good, healthy moisturizer, look at the list of ingredients,” she advises. “If petroleum is at the top of the list, it is going to keep the key ingredients from absorbing. For vitamin A, she recommends Retin-A. “Go directly to retinoic acid,” she says, “and your vitamin C product should contain at least 20 percent pure L-ascorbic.”
Ridenour says summer sun exposure may have left spots on the skin that can now be addressed. “One of the most popular and effective things we can do is apply intense pulse light (IPL) or broadband light (BBL),” he suggests. “These machines deliver a high-powered output of light in a spectrum of wavelengths that tend to be absorbed by things that are brown and red. That means broken veins and capillaries around the face and brown age spots.”
Heat from the light sources seals the small broken veins and breaks up brown spot pigments. A laser resurfacing also can rejuvenate the skin, he says. “These kinds of lasers are absorbed by water at the skin surface and create heat that prompts the body’s healing response,” he explains. “As we age, we gradually lose collagen and elastin fibers but the body doesn’t know it needs to repair those. The laser peels are a wonderful way of tricking the body into performing the repair process.”
Facials will take skin cleansing and hydration to another level. “A good aesthetician is going to clean out the pores and help keep your skin at a pH level where the ingredients you apply are going to absorb better,” Anderson says. “A good facial consists of a deep cleanse; some masking, massaging and toning; and an assessment of whether you need additional hydration or exfoliation. You also could have lip and eye treatments. Once a month is a good pattern. The cost is $85 to $125.”
A chemical peel goes a step further, she says. “A peel is exfoliating and takes layers of dead skin off the surface. If you did a peel once a quarter that would be sufficient.” The philosophy of peeling has evolved, she says. “We used to do really deep chemical peels. Now we do light and moderate peels that get really good results.”
You know the term, ‘soft as a baby’s bottom’? In a way, that’s what you want for your face. With age, the face becomes more sunken as fat deposits disappear, leaving too many angles and not enough plumptitude!
When Fat is Good
“With age the skin loses its thickness and suppleness,” says Dr. Michele Koo, a board-certified plastic surgeon in Kirkwood. “The lines of the face look harder and angled.” While thin is in, that is not what you want in your face. That explains the popularity of fillers—Juvederm, Restylane, collagen, and other injectables that plump-up those hollows. “Fillers fill in lines and creases to create a softer and more youthful face,” Koo notes. They add suppleness to the overall appearance.”
Or, as Dr. Joseph A. Muccini Jr., explains it, “They fill wherever a defect is, whether that defect is lost volume, a line or deeper crease that needs to be pushed out, or small lines close to the surface of the skin.” Muccini is a board-certified dermatologist at Mid-America Skin Health & Vitality Center in Chesterfield.
Fillers, A Good Fit
Muccini’s office typically keeps five to seven various fillers on hand, he says. The majority are based on hyaluronic acid, a natural substance found throughout the body. “Hyaluronic acids pull hydration into the area where they are placed, so there is a plumping effect,” he says. “Then the body wants to lay down some of its own material, and you get some collagen remodeling.”
The products vary by effects and placement, he explains. “One category is intended for deep-filling or volume repair, for example if your cheeks have become hollowed out,” he notes. “A superficial filler would be for thin lines or delicate places such as the boundary between the red lip and the white lip. The nasolabial folds, from the sides of the nose to the corners of the mouth, are good places for medium fillers.”
Bang for the Buck
“The nasolabial folds are extremely amenable to fillers, as are the marionette lines below the corners of the mouth,” Koo says. “These deep creases make a face look gaunt and drawn.”
Fillers also can minimize acne scars and are a popular treatment for thinning lips.
“Lip injections can create slightly fuller lips that are very natural appearing,” Koo says, “which can soften the entire look of a face.”
Lips, in particular, can become problematic with age. “First, you lose volume,” says Muccini. “Then, you lose a youthful definition of the contours between the part of the lip that is pink and the white outside. Third, you lose volume in the mid-face.”
How long will filler treatments last? “The longevity depends on which filler is used, anywhere from six months to 18 months,” Koo says. Typically treatments range from $500 to $700, and the technology continues to evolve, adds Muccini.
The Power Pair
For some facial procedures, fillers are paired with products containing botulinum toxins (Botox) that paralyze muscles. “We would use botulinum in those places where you have wrinkles that are caused by facial action, like where you crinkle your eyes when you squint or smile, or where it looks like you are scowling and have a mean, furrowing brow,” Muccini explains.
Some patients mistakenly believe botulinum products are fillers because they have heard them discussed together, he says. “They often are part of the same conversation because they are used for defects that have a combination of features such as volume loss plus wrinkles.”
Gone are the days when women covered their legs with hosiery. Bare legs are everywhere, and on women of every age—which makes it all the more important to, uh, put your best leg forward. That means unsightly, visible veins have to go. Fortunately, we have options—lots of them
Get a Leg Up
“Women want any vein problems to be taken care of. That is why the spider vein procedure is the No. 1 cosmetic surgery,” says Dr. Mark Blumenthal, a vascular surgeon at the Vein Center & CosMed. Spider veins are the small, thin and blue blood vessels that can be seen under the skin, most often on the legs. Though their appearance can be troubling, they usually are harmless and removal is considered a cosmetic procedure.
“The appearance of these veins has something to do with gravity, but we don’t know exactly why they happen,” Blumenthal says. Dr. Norman N. Bein, a vascular surgeon and registered vascular technician at Vein Specialties, says pregnancy can be one of the culprits. “Veins dilate due to hormonal changes, especially during pregnancy,” he says.
Out, Damn Spots!
“There is no laser that works well on spider veins. The only way to treat them is sclerotherapy,” says Blumenthal. That means injecting them with a chemical that causes the vein to essentially shrivel. “Then blood can’t get into them and the body absorbs the tiny, leftover cord.” The chemical is injected through a tiny needle that elicits scarcely a flinch from patients, Blumenthal says.
Facing Other Issues
Spider veins also can appear on the face, where they might become troublesome. “We see a fair amount of wind and sun damage in the Midwest, so we see a lot of spider veins on the cheek and nose,” Bein says. “Men, in particular, come in for those, especially when they are looking for work and are concerned that a potential employer will think they are alcoholic.”
Then there are varicose veins, visible threads that are thick and protruding, which are another matter entirely, Bein says. “Varicose veins are a superficial manifestation of an underlying problem called chronic venous insufficiency. These can lead to ulcers of the leg, blood clots and spontaneous bleeding.” Bein says varicose veins merit evaluation by someone with training in vascular surgery. “Your insurance company recognizes varicose veins as a medical problem, and as a rule will cover the treatment.”
This condition is believed to be hereditary and result from problems with valves that help blood overcome gravity on the return trip to the heart and lungs. “There are 20 valves from the ankle to the groin. When these do not work there is high pressure down the leg and that can cause heaviness, tiredness, aching, cramping and restless leg,” Bein says.
Varicose veins are removed through a minimally invasive procedure, he explains. “We do a local anesthetic and use a needle stick to reach in with a specially designed tiny hook that removes the vein. There are no stitches and the results are fabulous.”
Extend your beauty
“Eyelash extensions can take the eyes to another level of beauty and minimize the morning mirror ritual,” says Angela Horwitz, owner of CleanSpa in Chesterfield, which recently added extensions to its services. Current extensions are made of synthetic mink fur that is attached to existing eyelashes. A typical initial application requires 90 minutes with a certified aesthetician, Horwitz says, “but you can wear them three to four weeks depending on your activities.”