Protecting Your Skin
The skin care professionals at Faces are dedicated to improving your skin’s overall appearance and health. Part of anyone’s skin care routine should include protection from environmental factors. While there are many options to correct damage that has been done, prevention remains the best medicine.
Our skin is the protective coating that separates us from the environment. It is composed of two layers. The epidermis is the outer layer and the dermis is the inner layer. The outer layer of the epidermis is composed of dead cells that are continuously shed and replaced. Hair and nails are specialized structures within the skin.
As we age, the elastic tissue in our skin begins to break down. While some degree of aging is genetically predetermined, excessive sun and environmental exposure accelerate this process, known as elastosis. This leads to wrinkling of the skin. The best way to prevent early wrinkling and the most common types of skin cancer is to limit sun exposure.
It is estimated that 70 to 80 percent of total sun exposure is accumulated before age 20. Several studies show a correlation between severe sunburn at an early age and malignant melanoma. Malignant Melanoma is a dangerous form of cancer that left untreated in its early stage can easily spread to other organs.
Therefore, it is important to teach children the importance of sunscreen use at an early age. No particular brand of sunscreen is recommended, but an SPF of 15 or greater is necessary for daily protection, and 45 or greater for outdoor activity during summer. SPF means Sun Protection Factor; a SPF of 15 means that a person who normally burns in 30 minutes would be protected for 7 1/2 hours (15 SPF x 30 minutes) with the product adequately applied. A sunscreen with moisturizers and water resistant properties is also desirable.
Tanning salons have become very popular, but multiple scientific studies have shown that they are associated with significant increased risk of skin cancer. Self tanning products and “spray on” tans have improved over the years and are considered to be safe.
The Fitzpatrick Scale, also known as the Fitzpatrick skin typing test, was developed in 1975 as a way to estimate the response of different types of skin to ultraviolet (UV) light. There are six basic skin types in relation to sun sensitivity.
Skin cancer is currently considered to be an epidemic in our country. All three of the most common types of skin cancer are related to sun exposure. Some persons, especially light skinned individuals who do not tan easily, are more susceptible than others. The greater the sun exposure the greater the risk. As stated earlier, most of our lifetime sun exposure occurs before age 20.
Basal cell carcinoma is the most common type and usually occurs on the exposed parts of the head and neck. Although there are several types, it is most commonly identified as a waxy, raised area that crusts or bleeds. It grows slowly and does not usually metastasize (spread) to distant parts of the body. It is usually treated by surgical removal.
Squamous cell carcinoma is the next most common, and is typically seen as a non-healing ulcer. This is a slightly more dangerous type because it can spread to other parts of the body. It also is usually treated by surgical removal.
The third and less common type is malignant melanoma. Many studies reveal a dramatic growth in the occurrence of melanoma among caucasians. This type may present as a flat, darkly colored spot with irregular edges, or as a raised lesion similar to a mole. This form can occur anywhere on the body and is more serious because it is prone to spread through the body. Early diagnosis and complete removal offer the best chance for a cure. Again, early use of sunscreen is most important, as multiple studies have shown an association with blistering sunburn during childhood.
Many skin cancers on the face are easily removed and the defect repaired in the office. Some more advanced or recurrent lesions, especially if close to important structures such as the eye, may best be treated by a sophisticated form of surgery known as the Moh’s technique.
Remember, the best chance to cure all types of skin cancer is early diagnosis and treatment. Any suspicious lesions should be examined by a physician.
Blemishes And Scars
Most of us have imperfections on our skin such as warts and moles. Often these are inconspicuous and go unnoticed. When numerous and prominent they may be distracting or unsightly to the observer. These and other blemishes such as prominent capillaries, cysts and birthmarks can often be corrected with relatively simple treatments in the office.
Unsightly and disfiguring scars and other defects can be very detrimental to one’s self image. These defects may be improved by carefully planned and executed reconstructive surgery. It must be understood that no scar can ever be completely eliminated, only improved.
Any incision or injury that penetrates the dermis will leave a scar. All wounds undergo a healing process that takes nine to twelve months. Initially, scars are raised and red, but as they mature, they flatten, soften and become white. Some scars, however, do not flatten and may even widen. These are known as hypertrophic scars and keloids. Formation of this type of scar is an individual tendency and can be difficult to predict and treat. Scars that may benefit from corrective surgery are those that are lumpy or wide, pigmented, elevated or cross natural skin creases, as well as those that alter natural landmarks such as the eyebrow or border of the lip.
Before considering a scar revision, several factors must be clear:
- Scars cannot be completely eliminated, only rearranged or improved
- The healing process is 9-12 months and the new scar may look worse during the initial healing.
- The final result may be enhanced with dermabrasion or further scar revision.
Laser Skin Resurfacing
The key to addressing the early signs of aging and improving your skin’s texture and overall appearance is to stimulate production of new collagen and elastin fibers in the dermal layers. The non-ablative, skin resurfacing technology of the Lumenis ResurFX addresses these concerns with minimal downtime and optimal results.
Laser resurfacing treatments, such as the ResurFX, have also been shown to help reduce the appearance of scars. When damage occurs to the deeper layers of the skin (dermis), the healing process can sometimes result in scarring. The extent of the scar depends on several factors, such as the cause of damage itself, how well the wound is cared for while it’s healing, its anatomical location, and genetic factors. Stimulation of collagen and elastin are important factors in leading to the noticeable improvement in the appearance and texture of scars.
For fine lines and wrinkles and uneven skin texture and tone, your treatment begins with a thorough cleanse and dermaplane to remove dead skin cells and vellus hair. This also allows the topical numbing cream to penetrate effectively prior to treatment. Each treatment session lasts approximately an hour. Afterwards you may notice minimal swelling for 24-48 hours and a ‘sandpaper-like’ texture that can last up to 7 days. While optimal results are visible after 3-5 sessions, patients often begin noticing subtle textural differences, such as reduced pore size, after their very first treatment. If more radiant, youthful-looking skin is your ultimate goal, then the Lumenis M22 ResurFX procedure is the treatment for you.