Kevin L. Welch, MD; Dermatologist, Chairman Dermatology and Laser Center, Medical Center Clinic, Pensacola, FL
One of the most rewarding aspects of my job is the ability to make my patients look and feel better about themselves. And with the current advancements in cosmetic dermatology, I can deliver these positive results in less time. Especially during the busy and hectic holiday season, patients want treatments that deliver noticeable results with little downtime.
One of the most frequently requested procedures is the neurotoxin injection, otherwise known as Botox® or Dysport®. Neurotoxins are multi-taskers—because they temporarily “freeze” the muscle contractions that cause wrinkling, they are used to reduce fine lines between the eyebrows, on the forehead, above the upper lip and around the eyes (also known as crow’s-feet). Neurotoxins can also be injected at the sides of the nose, which in turn lowers the upper lip slightly and can noticeably reduce a gummy smile. They can even provide an effect similar to a neck lift when injected along the jawline.
Neurotoxins are fairly affordable and offer the benefit of no downtime. Though I see a spike in these procedures during the holidays, I have many patients that get neurotoxins year-round. One treatment certainly provides marked, visible improvement in fine lines and wrinkles for up to four months, but patients see the best results when getting injections on a regular basis, since these injections can reduce the depth of wrinkles over time.
If a patient has a few weeks before an event and sunspots, uneven skin tone or redness are the primary concerns, I suggest Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) treatments. IPL works beneath the skin by shooting a broad spectrum of light energy through the epidermis, where it is attracted to—and then breaks up—brown and red pigment. Because this occurs on a microscopic level, there is no damage to the skin and downtime is minimal; in fact, patients can wear makeup immediately after the treatment. This treatment is great around the holidays for patients who develop weather- or alcohol-induced redness, such as rosacea.
IPL delivers a subtle but significant improvement in the skin’s appearance. Sunspots are very responsive to one or two IPL treatments, and redness is dramatically improved in three to four treatments. It’s also an effective way to treat sunspots on the hands, which are one of the biggest age revealers.
An emerging school of thought in dermatology focuses on the importance of replacing volume in aging skin. This can be done quickly, and virtually painlessly, with hyaluronic acid fillers like Restylane, Juvéderm and Perlane. As we age, the face develops indentations and begins to flatten, and it’s been well documented that restoring facial volume helps to mimic the full, curvy look of a young face. Replacing volume in both the mid-face and nasolabial folds helps restore a youthful, aesthetically pleasing appearance.
I can correct a tired look quickly by injecting filler in the tear trough and cheek. Replacing that lost volume gives a refreshed appearance. I also inject Radiesse®, a volumetric filler, to improve the look of deep nasolabial folds. These fillers all offer instant results with little to no redness or bruising; taking an arnica supplement prior to the procedure further reduces this risk.
I’ve also found the SkinMedica® peels to be successful in clarifying and giving a brightening effect to the skin. Though a single treatment about a week before an important event is effective, I suggest having the peels performed on a regular basis to smooth the skin and keep pores clear.
Additionally, I suggest starting the New Year with a skincare routine that relies on a three-prong approach to anti-aging: retinol, growth factors and antioxidants. Retinol has been shown to increase exfoliation and build resiliency. Growth factors have been clinically tested and shown to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. And antioxidants have proven extremely effective in protecting the skin from future damage.
With any smart skincare routine, prevention is key. It’s important to remember that while technology has afforded us the luxury of fast-acting, efficacious procedures, healthy lifestyle choices and proper sun protection, along with the topical products outlined above, are key components for maintaining skin health.