Question: My Mom reads your blog and has been talking about getting Botox or the “lunchtime laser.” I want to get her a treatment for Christmas but don’t know which one to choose. I can afford only one and I want her to see the biggest results.
Answer: What a great question and you’re a great daughter! Both Botox and Intense Pulsed Light laser ( also known as the lunchtime laser) will make a major difference in her appearance. The choice depends on the condition of her skin. If she has spent many happy hours in the sun, its likely that she has lots of freckles and dark patches. An Intense Pulsed Light treatment will literally vaporize this aging pigmentation and leave her skin younger and refreshed. The results are permanent but brown spots will return if she goes out without sun protection. If she was not a beach bunny and her skin has lines along the cheeks, forehead and and around the eyes, Botox will erase them– for about 3-4 months. Because lasers leave the skin extra sensitive for a few days, you can also give her a stocking filled with a gentle cleanser ( eg Cetaphil), sunscreen ( Neutrogena for SensitiveSkin) and soothing water spray ( eg Dermalogica UltraCalming Spray).
The Right Tool at the Right Time
Which anti-aging tool to use and when to use it was the fundamental question behind the No-Nonsense Beauty Blog. Initially, I planned to start with Retin A to reve up the circulation and skin growth, add Botox to reduce lines and polish things up by removing large freckles and age spots with a laser. But as it turned out, lasers work best on darkest spots, so I started the anti-aging journey by removing them with a traditional laser and then continuing with my plan.
But in the past few years since I started, there have been so many new options that my new plan has become an exploration of new forms of Retin A, new lasers and new machines that deal both singly and in combination with a slew of aging issues. At a recent dermatology conference at Mount Sinai, the experts came up with an effective anti-aging game plan that started with gentle lasers like Intense Pulsed Light to brighten and Botox to smooth the skin.
I’d love to hear which treatment you chose. Happy holidays!
It sounds like a plot of a new Steven Spielberg movie, but its real. Turns out that our fat is loaded with stem cells and that when injected into the face, stem cells actually encourage regrowth for healthy fuller contours. I learned about this and other anti-aging techniques that are just on the horizon at a press event hosted by cosmetic surgery expert Wendy Lewis. One of the smartest women I’ve ever met, she assembled a blue ribbon panel of dermatologists and surgeons to explain these new wrinkle busters at Waldorf Astoria press conference.
Park Avenue plastic surgeon Dr Z. Paul Lorenc explored new fillers that actually stimulated the growth of new healthy collagen. So when the filler is gradually absorbed, the skin stays smooth and young because of strong fresh skin cell growth that restores youthful contours. Dr David Golderg, director of Laser Research at Mount Sinai School of Medicine discussed the role of lasers in cellulite control. He explained that the lasers don’t destroy the cellulite, but rather tighten the skin, making the cellulite far less obvious– eg less jiggle; Dr Sidney Coleman who is associated with NYU-Langone School of Medicine focused on the benefits of fat grafts to aging, sun-damaged and scarred skin. Not only do the grafts restore normal skin appearance, the benefits become better with time. Research indicates that the stem cells in the fat injection are stimulating the regrowth of healthy tissue. I was especially impressed by the use of fat grafts to cover up dark undereye circles. Dr Coleman has a grant from the Department of Defense and he is using these techniques to repair wounds that soldiers suffered in Afghanistan and Iraq. Its amazing to see once flattened and distorted faces returned to normal. And just a side note- cosmetic surgery techniques that we use today to turn back time, were originally developed after World War I as doctors struggled to repair disfiguring wounds.
But keep in mind that NONE of these new anti-aging developments are legally approved in the US and are still waiting for FDA approval. ( They are found in other parts of the world and that’s a topic for another post) And be aware that non-MD’s are pouring into the field offering all sorts of anti-aging injections and a wide variety of unapproved techniques. To avoid dreadful complications ( there were some pretty awful photos at the conference) make certain you get treated by a certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon.
And speaking of treatments, today I am actually going to Dr Lorenc for his super cleansing hydro-facial. I will post before and after pix next Wednesday.
Since I started my anti-aging journey I think that the most frequent problem which my friends and co-workers shared with me for was the freckles and sun damaged skin on their chest, AKA the decollete. Often their chests seemed permanently sunburned and a few had developed skin cancers which needed to be surgically removed. Polling my all-star team of dermatologists for a solution, I got a range of different answers. Some suggested salicylic acid peels, while other suggested Fraxel laser, CO2 lasers or skin lightening cream.
Before I vounteered a friends’ chest freckles for science, I decided to try out some of these options on a large brown spot on my chest. First approach– a laser. The series of photographs show this bad boy freckle before and after treatment. First photo show that that its not that bad, but in a strapless dress or cami top, it does look out of place. The second photo is the day after my freckle met a laser. The area was red and aw but the procedure was not uncomfortable and over quickly. The shiny stuff is Aquaphor for healing. I wore a bandaid over it for the first week to protect the area from infection and to protect my clothes from the ointment.
The last photo is 10 days after the laser treatment . I’ve still got some healing to do. The brown spots that were removed on my neck and face healed quicker than on the chest. I wonder if chest discolorations are more resistant to treatment than those on other parts of the body. This particular brown spot is in the medial line in center of the body and I know that this area tends to produce scars more easily. I’m really glad that I’m testing out different methods on myself before I involved a friends’ freckles. Have you ever treated your decollete? I’d be really interested to hear what worked as well as what didn’t.
Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) is a type of photorejuvenation that uses a blast of light to remove freckles, unwanted hair and little red lines on the skin. Often called the “lunchtime laser” it does not burn off the top layers of the skin like a tradtional laser and the skin looks beautiful and smooth within a week. I had IPL last year in June with Dr Marmur and was so pleased with the results. I thought it made my skin look tighter and fresher and I posted before and after pics on the blog. My BFF ( best friend with freckles) liked the changes so much that she went for her own IPL date. I think her results were even better. Not only does she look 10 years younger, her skin has a new radiance. She is so pleased with the results, that she has now joined me in my anti-aging journey.
First we developed a plan. In the morning she is using a strong sunscreen to prevent the return of freckles. When she was in school, BFF was a super athlete. Her current passion is gardening and she is developing a new style of wall garden. For either activity she is often in direct sun, and needs an uber sunscreen. At night she is using Retin A to stimulate circulation and new collagen. After a few months on Retin A, she will have Pelleve and will share the results on No-Nonsense Beauty Blog. Have you tried out an anti-aging tool or technique? It would be wonderful if you could share your experience and before and after photos. There are so many options out there its hard to know which work and which are empty promises? As Mulder would say to Scully–” The Truth is out there”.
Watching the celebs walk the red carpet during awards season, I began to focus on the flawless chests and creamy shoulders of the stars in their strapless gowns. Was I the last woman in America with age spots on my upper body?
The short answer is no. This is an often overlooked spot until a dress or bathing suit suddenly reminds you that sun damage doesn’t stop at the chin. That’s the bad news. The good news? There a buffet of spots removers including skin bleaches, IPL, lasers, Fraxel, peels and microdermabrasion. The question is which one is the best. According to Dr Marmur, I have several different types of discolorations that require different types of treatments. For example the true freckles can be easily treated with a YAG or Ruby laser– the same type that I used on the freckles ( aka age spots) on my face and hands. The raised spots are actually skin tags that are best cut off or burned away with electrocauterization. As you can see from my before photo, the red spots are atually more numerous and I’ll find out what they are and how they are treated when I get them removed tomorrow. Its a good thing its still scarf weather here, since I know from past experience that I’ll have a bunch of red scabs on my neck for at least a week.
Judith’s hands healed rapidly after her IPL treatment. On Day One ( top left) the freckles looked a bit red, but were not painful. Other than a sunscreen, Judith did not need to put anything on them or to wear a bandage. Over the next week (bottom left ) her hand developed numerous small brown spots which were exploded freckles. These soon rubbed off revealing fresh new skin. The bigger freckles developed crusted over, which then fell off to reveal pale spots. After three weeks( bottom right) her hands had a brighter, softer surface with just a few freckles that were much lighter than before.
And as an additional bonus, IPL took care of the fine lines which made her hands fresh and young. Dr Lefkovits has scheduled another visit to totally erase the remaining shadows of the old freckles.
I had my freckles ( aka age spots) lasered off the top of my hands and posted the progress on my blog. I was very happy with the results, but wondered how IPL ( also called photo rejuvenation) would have worked. To answer that question, Dr Lefkovits offered to use IPL on the freckles of a friend.
I knew just who to call. Judith has had my back since we worked together in advertising. Dealing with some pretty difficult clients, she was always the island of calm in any storm. Since I started my blog, Judith has been an enthusiastic supporter and when Dr Lefkovits made the offer, I punched in her number on my cell. Tall and slim, she is a terriffic athlete who spent many happy hours on tennis courts and sunny beaches– and has the freckles to prove it.
Dr Lefkovits and his technician Eleanor examined Judy’s hands. He explained that her olive tone skin needed to start with low dose IPL to avoid uneven skin color. Before we even started, Dr Lefkovits predicted that is would take two IPL treatments to remove freckles from Judith’s hands. They spread on a thick layer of ultrasound gel, handed out blue goggles for everyone and fired up the IPL equipment. Each time the IPL wand touched Judith’s hand, there was a flash of light. This first session was over in 10 minutes. The smaller freckles were now red and the larger ones were slightly darker. As they heal, the darkened skin will flake off.
Over the next few posts, I’ll upload pix of Judith’s progress. I was running out of body parts to rejuvenate and its awesome that I’ve got new people to help me explore beauty options.
I get frequent questions from Asian and Latina readers who are interested in using Retin A , but are concerned about the side effects. On one hand Retin A has the ability to lighten dark patches and make the skin look fresher and brighter. On the other hand Retin A can be very irritating– and deeper skin tones tend to develop darkened areas when inflamed.
There’s a boatload of conflicting advice about the topic and I needed an expert to provide answers. Asking my colleagues in beauty for the best source of information, I was referred to the noted Chicago-based cosmetic surgeon, Dr Seven Dayan. In addition to seeing patients, Dr Dayan is the founder of DeNova Research, a center that has extensive experience studying skin care in women of color. According to Dr Dayan, Latina, Asian and African American women need to use Retin A very very cautiously. “ To avoid problems I recommend a very mild form of Retin A ( such as Renova) and use it only every three days. In addition , when using even Renova it is important to avoid products that can be irritating such as exfoliating grains and brushes”
Retin A is just one of the anti-aging tools that need to be used carefully by women of color. Lasers, IPL even gentle gylcolic peels can cause needless problems like melasma and I’ll be talking more with Dr Dayan to learn the safest and most up- to-date information on this often undercovered topic. For more information about Dr Dayan and his ongoing research studies go to www.denovaresearch.com
I finally got my new Retin A this week and I’m lovin it. To recap my Retin A adventures, I had been using .04% Retin A micro with wonderful results. Its the lowest dose of one of the gentlest forms of tretinoin and I got good results without too much discomfort. After about 10 months, I noticed that I no longer could see that characteristic yourthful glow you get with Retin A and realized it was time to move up to the next level. Dr Marmur gave me a prescription for.1% Retin A– the turbo powered one, not the micro-sphere stuff. And here is where I went rogue. In my local CVS, brand name Retin A was about $200. I decided to order a generic version from Canada for $40. I was so proud of all the money I saved.
When my bargain Retin A arrived, I was a concerned that it was yellow, not white, but I had faith in the label. Concerned that it would be too irritating, I used a dab every other day for a week. Nothing happened. Then I used it every night. Nothing. I used two dabs. Nothing. I used it for a month and while I didn’t get irritated, I didn’t see the lovely “pinking” that I developed with Retin A Micro. I even tried it under my eye. Nothing. I did everything but spread it on toast and eat it. I don’t know what is in this yellow goo, but its not an effective Retin-A.
For my holiday present, I bought myself .1% Retin A micro. At $269 at my pharmacy, it was a commitment. It turned out to be the right choice. Within a week, I’ve got a little glow again. I’m still using it every other day without flaking and redness. My skin feels tight after washing — a signal to keep taking things easy– but I’m back in a good Retin A routinue.
I’ve used so many anti-aging tools, I’m running out of body parts. Its going to get difficult see what procedure or product is responsible for changes. That’s why I am so excited that a good friend has volunteered to join me on this anti-aging exploration. First treatment, IPL for the brown spots on her hands. I used lasers and we can see what a different approach can do. Have a wonderful New Year!
Last week I went to the annual Mount Sinai Advances in Dermatology Conference in NYC. Begun over a decade ago as a local meeting, doctors now come from all over the world to hear state of the art developments from the best and brightest in dermatology. It is the creation of Park Avenue dermatologist Albert Lefkovits– who by the way has taken care of my daughters since they were teenagers. He is such a good derm that I actually got flowers from a co-worker to thank me for recommending him.
By the end of the three day meeting, I finally understood the difference between Sculptra, Radiesse, and Juvaderm, learned about the new sunscreen guidelines, and heard about ways to deal with adult acne that improves both breakouts and skin aging. Awesome!
I even found out about two new FDA approved therapies that hadn’t even been on my radar. The first, Photodynamic Therapy, the skin is pretreated with medication and then exposed to red and blue lights of varying wavelengths. It is used for aging, acne and brown age spots. It sounds great, but I wonder if anyone has used it. I’d love to hear about your experiences.
The second new anti-aging techique goes by the tongue-numbing name of Sub-Ablative Radio Frequency. It is a laser that does not affect the surface of the skin, but makes improvements in the lower architecture. I was so impressed with the results, I made an appointment to get it done. I’ve always been hesitant to use lasers since the skin looks raw and red for at least a week. When I lasered the freckles on my face, a three year old pointed a finger at me and said ” Clownie? When I lasered the brown spots on my hand, a women asked if they were bed bug bits. With this new laser, all the effects are below the skin’s surface, so you look better, not redder.