American Society of Plastic Surgeons
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Skin care advice from a plastic surgeon


Acne, lines, wrinkles, discoloration? No worries!

Walk into any store or spa and you are immediately faced with a plethora of facial skin care products to address any concern you may have ever had about your skin. It is understandable to be overwhelmed by all of these lotions, oils and serums and to leave with more questions. What is the best option for my skin? Do I need this to maintain good skin health? Is there any science behind any of these ingredients? Will I see results?

The skin is the largest organ in the human body and is constantly damaged by the effects of sun and smoke. This results in skin that is dull and dry with sun spots or other discoloration. Additionally, aging and the repetitive movements on the face from the underlying muscles can result in lines and wrinkles. How then can we address these changes or, better yet, prevent them? The answer is easy. Two products are an essential part of a healthy skin care regimen: sunscreen and vitamin A (retinol) derivatives.

Broad-spectrum sunscreen can dramatically improve the appearance and health of skin. It is designed to protect your skin from ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation, which can cause direct and indirect cell and DNA damage. This results in degradation of collagen, an increase in pigment and a decrease in cell turnover. Ultimately, this results in signs of facial photoaging, lines, pigment changes and an overall unhealthy appearance to your skin. Daily use of sunscreen can diminish these signs. Additionally, its use can prevent skin cancers. Sunscreen should be used daily and reapplied throughout the day, rain or shine!

Vitamin A (retinol) and its derivatives, are powerful anti-aging ingredients. Retinoids, retinoic acid (Retin-A), tretinoins, retinaldehydes and retinyl esters are all in the vitamin A family. They help increase collagen content in the skin to decrease fine lines and increase cell turnover. Additionally, they can be used to treat acne by decreasing cell debris that can block pores. Retinols can, however, result in skin irritation, peeling or flakiness and sun sensitivity so it is important to use these products with sunscreen and under the care of your plastic surgeon.

While sunscreen and vitamin A products are the biggest bang for your buck, there are many additional acids and antioxidants on the market which may improve your skin health. It is important to consult with your plastic surgeon to find the right regimen for you. Together, your skin care concerns can effectively be addressed.

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