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Looking Good at Any Age

Taking care of your skin is easy when you know how

Posted on December 01, 2010 and filed under Wellness.

Good skin care is the foundation of success whether a patient chooses surgical intervention or not. The evolution of skin rejuvenation treatment options has provided the opportunity for Dr. Kerry Owens to work with patients through many stages of their lives. Today’s patients are looking for the least invasive way to “retain their youth,” she said. A full range of techniques, from sunscreen use and topical therapies to injectable treatments, can help prevent damage and improve the appearance of the skin’s surface in ways that surgery cannot.

“My interest in skin care is personal as well as professional,” said Dr. Owens, who educates her patients and the general public about caring for their skin, and has been impressed with the solid science behind today’s products. While it is easy to spend a lot of money on over-the-counter products, patients should make an investment in cosmeceutical products that actually “impact their DNA,” stimulating changes at the cellular level, she said.

Sunscreen is the most important product to include in one’s collection. “We underestimate what our exposure to the sun is,” she said. It is not just shielding your skin when you are on the beach; it’s about protecting your skin from everyday exposure to the sun throughout the year.

Dr. Owens also recommends topical vitamin A, known by its brand name Retin-A, as the “gold standard” of treatments.  Over-the-counter retinol products can be beneficial as well, if there is enough of the active ingredient retinol. Some people avoid or give up on Retin-A, according to Dr. Owens, because it may not be well tolerated by users. “The greatest challenge is that people don’t always recognize that their skin care needs to be managed.” Talking with a medical professional about reactions, proper dosing and expectations enables patients to be treated most effectively.

Products with vitamin C and other antioxidants can help protect the skin from environmental exposure. While medical professionals can prescribe specific products, Dr. Owens said she sometimes has patients bring in their skin products so that she can review the ingredients and assess their value for each individual’s use. These products do not replace sunscreen protection, but provide increased protection and facilitate collagen production and maintenance of a youthful appearance.  If you are using an over-the-counter product, it is important to know whether the ingredients are appropriate for effective absorption and action, again underscoring the importance of professional input in managing an advanced skin care regimen.

The age to begin significant attention to skin repair and preservation depends on genetics and how well an individual has protected her face from sun damage. Most people should  start thinking about basic skin care in their 20s or 30s. According to Dr. Owens, we begin to lose elasticity and thickness in our skin in our mid-20s.

As patients age, they may benefit from a chemical peel or laser treatments to improve the skin’s appearance and address problem areas like prominent blood vessels or age spots. Fillers like Juvederm©, Restylane© and Radiesse© may be beneficial treatments for static lines. Static lines are those visible with the face at rest. Active lines (i.e., lines that are not always visible but can be quite noticeable when the face moves) can be corrected with injectable Botox© Cosmetic. Although some corrections in an aging face can be made only with surgery, these treatments, used alone or in combination, often can create a more youthful appearance with minimal cost and recovery time.

In considering any level of skin care, Dr. Owens advised that patients should know the limitations of more commercial operations. With the complexity of offerings for skin care, and the need to treat each patient as an individual with distinctive needs, the services of a plastic and reconstructive surgery office are ideal.

“We are educated on the full range of what is available, and use skin care as an adjunct to more advanced procedures that may ultimately be necessary or desired,” Dr. Owens said. Rather than offering a limited set of procedures like a spa or even some dermatologists, they can freely recommend what is best for each patient. And, different procedures may be appropriate at different points in a patient’s life.

Dr. Owens encourages patients seeking skin treatment to be educated consumers. “There is certainly a place for the services offered by spas and aestheticians, and we have solid relationships with providers of these services in our community which allows appropriate referral of patient clients who desire the more comprehensive offerings of a medical doctor and surgeon.”

For more information about Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at Saint Agnes, click here.

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