05 Dec Skin Rejuvenation Treatment Options
One of the most obvious signs of aging is on our body’s largest organ: our skin. The brightness we had in younger days may have faded, and wrinkles may form around our eyes and mouth. Though these signs of age may be celebrated as signs of wisdom, not everyone appreciates them — and they want that youthful, glowing skin back.
Luckily, dermatologists don’t just check for moles and sort out rashes. These specialized doctors have tons of techniques and tools at their disposal to bring out the best in our bodies, restoring and rejuvenating our skin to look like it did in our younger days. And though it may seem counterintuitive, most of the ways to rejuvenate the skin involve a little bit of (controlled) injury.
Microneedling can be used to combat a number of skin issues, such as stretch marks, fine lines and deep wrinkles, and sagging skin. With microneedling, a dermatologist will use a device featuring many fine needles to create tiny punctures in the skin. These micro-wounds trigger the production of collagen and elastin — two different types of proteins that give our skin strength and elasticity, both of which diminish with age. The microneedling process takes anywhere from a few minutes to an hour to complete, with dryness, redness and swelling lasting for about a week. Though the thought of dozens of needles sounds alarming, the treatment is generally well tolerated among patients.
Chemical peels, which involves applying different chemicals to the skin on your face or chest, are a well-known way to smooth out rough skin, minimize variations in the skin’s color due to skin conditions, and reduce fine lines. There are many types of safe chemical peels to use, including glycolic acid, the Jessners peel and trichloroacetic acid (TCA). Each type of peel has its benefits: glycolic acid stimulates new epidermal growth, while the Jessners peel targets clogged pores, severe acne and blotchy skin. TCA, the strongest of the chemical peels, reaches all the way through to the uppermost layer of the dermis and is used for acne scarring, hyperpigmentation and wrinkles. The dermatologist will advise each patient as to which peel is most suitable; with all chemical peels, patients should expect their skin to show peeling for about seven days or fewer.
Photodynamic Therapy (PDT)
Photodynamic therapy uses a combination of medication and light to treat sun-damaged skin, acne and even precancers and early-stage skin cancer. The medication, called 5-aminolevulinic acid (ALA™), is a photosensitizer that makes skin and cancerous cells more sensitive to light. A few hours after application of ALA™, the dermatologist will use a light treatment such as Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) or Clear Light to essentially destroy the damaged cells. PDT comprises a series of treatments — most commonly two to three spaced two to four weeks apart — and patients may notice some reddening and swelling immediately after a session. Because the photosensitizer causes skin cells to become more sensitive to light, it’s important that patients stay out of direct sunlight and wear protective clothing for at least 36 hours after the treatment.
Much of the research and focus of PDT has been on treating cancers, including skin, head and mouth cancers, but the therapy can be used to treat age-related macular degeneration as well as severe acne, rosacea and other cosmetic skin conditions.
If your skin has begun to show those telltale signs of aging, such as wrinkles, sagging and dullness, there are ways to rejuvenate your skin — it just takes a visit to the dermatologist.