I had already tried the low and medium settings of the Palovia home laser and barely felt them on my skin– and now was ready to go to the max and try the highest setting. However, these settings while painless had left raised, red splotches which were still around up to eight hours later. The skin also felt a bit tender as if it had been sunburned.
A friend who knew her way around lasers thought she knew the source of the problem. I wasn’t using enough of the gel. The instructions said the enclosed bottle of gel was enough for 60 treatments. It was not that big a bottle, so I just used a light topping of gel before zapping my arm with the laser. I remembered that when I had IPL or lasers with a physician, they really did slather it on.
I decided to increase amount of gel, but keep the setting at medium. I pumped the bottle about six times and applied a pretty thick coating– not as thick as in an office based procedure, but certainly more than I had been using. Treating the same area on my arm, I applied the laser and pressed the on button. It worked once, then a notice came up on the little treatment screen saying ‘Interrupted”. Hmm? I shook the device and checked the battery, but it was almost full. I continued with the treatment and almost half the time, the session was stopped with an interrupted sign. Hmm?
I stopped to check the instruction booklet again. Apparently this sign comes on when the device it on, but not in contact with the skin. I began to wonder if I had put on too much gel and it was blocking access to the device.
The results on my skin was also interesting. I got some red patches, but they were pretty flat and went away within an hour. In addition, my skin did not feel sunburned. So I think that the extra gel was definately a step in the right direction, but now the question was how much should I really be using. I’ll try again tomorrow.
It’s no secret that I’m a fan of lasers. I respect their power to erase dark patches, eliminate lines and fry away unwanted facial hair. But they are expensive and when I saw the arrival of home lasers I was interested– but cautious. Lasers are powerful tools and in inexperienced hands can cause burns, scars, discolorations and even eye damage.
At Beauty Bash in October, I stopped at the Palovia Booth to talk with the rep about their home laser kit. I was delighted to learn that its made by Palomar, one of the most highly regarded makers of professional grade lasers used by dermatologists and cosmetic surgeons. I was even more impressed to hear that Palovia is FDA approved to reduce fine lines and wrinkles around the eyes.
They offered me a machine to try out and despite my natural cowardice, I really wanted to see what anti-aging benefits they can deliver. The thick instruction booklet was a little daunting. It had a fairly extensive list of guidelines and I read it severral times before feeling comfortable enough to get things started. There are several on and off buttons, charging instructions, choices in intensity, and a list of potential problems that were sobering. And I have to admit that I was afraid of pain.
I charged it up for several hours, read the booklet one more time and was ready to start– with baby steps. The instruction book recommends trying out the machine on your arm to get used to the sensation. I decided to try the home laser on my arm for several sessions to see how my skin responds. I adjusted the Palovia to its lowest setting and as per instructions, I spread on a layer of gel I ( included in the kit). I placed the head of the machine on my arm and pressed the on button. I felt a very mild buzzing sensation for three seconds, then the machine turned off. That was my signal to move to another area. I repeated the treatment in four closely linked areas. When I wiped off the gel, my skin felt a tiny bit irritated and the redness lasted for about an hour. So far, so good. The sensation was definately not painful and I’m going to continue tonight, extending the treatment time to see how my skin responds. Baby steps.
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.
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”.
Here is a pix of my neck ten days after removing the various bumps and splotches. The scabs are gone and the redness is slowly fading. To avoid awkward stares questions, I am still wearing scarves and chuncky necklaces to cover them up. I found that powder mineral foundation does hide them, but then rubs off and stains my tees and blouses, soI’m sticking to camouflage rather than make-up. Now that I’ve worked so hard to polish up my neck and chest I want to protect it from new problems. I had three types of spots:
Brown spots: These are a combination of age and sunlight. The former I can’t so anything about– the latter just needs a daily sunscreen. Done.
Skin tags: These are also linked to age and to high blood sugar levels. Not surprising, since I have type II Diabetes. As a matter of fact, it was Park Avenue dermatologist Dr Lefkovits who saw them 15 years ago and told me to get tested for diabetes. If I keep my blood sugar under control, they do not reappear.
Red spots: These are called cherry angiomas and result when a small group of tiny blood vessels clump together. They are a genetic thing and there is nothing I can do to prevent them. However they can develop little extensions which are known as spider angiomas. Both sunlight and alcohol can provoke these to appear. I’m a two glasses of wine a week kind of drinker, so that’s not a problem. Remembering to apply aunscreen to my neck and chest is my new summer routinue.
And I’ve noticed an extra bonus to this round of freckle removal. In the area where I had laser treatment, the neck skin looks smoother and less bumpy. This ability to tighten skin is one of lasers best benefits and spot tightening is actually the principle behind the Fraxel Laser. Rather than totally burning off the top layer with the ultimate C02 Laser, Fraxel works on a grid to treat tiny areas. but leave adjacent skin untouched. The result? A more natural looking tightening. I had not been that interested to do Fraxel, but now that I see how the principle works, its something I will explore it a bit, especially for my neck.
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.
I have often mentioned my reservations about retinols vs the more powerful retinoids like Retin A. When applied to the skin, retinols have to convert themselves to a true retinoid before they can be effective. Researchers estimate that a retinol is only 25% as effective as a Retin A. For example, a .1% Retinol ( a very common concentration) is equal to a .025 Retin A– which is actually the mildest Retin A on the market. And then there is the problem that most retinol products don’t say how much of the power stuff they actually contain. You can’t know if a product is to weak to be effective or too strong and irritating.
I stayed away from retinol products until wandering in the exhibit hall of a derm conference, I picked up free samples of .5% Retinol from Skinceuticals. I was intrigued. A .5% retinol is at least equal to my current .1% Retin A Micro. ( I know this is a lot of math but staywith me– its worth it). And then there was the question of price. .5% Retinol ( they need to work on the name) is just $50/ tube– a lot better than the $300 price tag of my Retin A Micro. But price is not that important if it didn’t deliver beauty benefits. After just three days, I had new respect for retinols. I could put it on shortly after washing my face without developing dryness or irritation–yet I could see a fresher, brighter skin. What I loved best about Retin A is that relieved my pale, pasty skin tones and replaces them with pinker, happier looking skin. This retinol product delivered the same “pinking” but without the dryness.
To keep my skin from getting bored, I’ve been alternating between .5% Retinol and .1% Retin A Micro. I liked the results so much, that when I had finished my samples, I paid retail for a full size tube. Next I want to see if I can use it before and after an office anti-aging procedure. IPL and lasers make my skin especially sensitive and I need to suspend Retin A for as much as a week. Next time, I’m going to see if I can use .5%Retinol the next day to avoid a break in beauty routinue. What has your experience been with retinol products.? How did they compare to Retin A for you?
For more information, I’ve written a guide to Retin A. Like my Facebook Fan Page and you can download the four page guide for free.
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!