Why is our skin important?
Our skin is our body’s largest organ system and is responsible for protecting us from the outside world. Extreme temperatures, physical trauma, bacteria and viruses, solar radiation and even chemicals all pose a threat to our bodies. It provides the first line of defense against all of these dangers. Skin also helps regulate our body temperature and water content, and affords our ability to interact with the world around us through the sensation of touch, hot and cold temperatures, pain and pressure. This is where skin solutions are extremely important.
Skin and Our Appearance
When I talk with patients about looking their best, they often times forget about the health and appearance of their complexions. While surgery can help reposition tissues and address the qualities of volume and laxity, this is not a substitute for overall skin health. Beautiful, healthy complexions are often times one of the greatest contributors to a healthy, vibrant, youthful appearance. Its health can be the difference between an older patient who appears to age slowly and gracefully with a more youthful, rested appearance, and a younger patient who appears aged far beyond their years.
Everyone has a distinctive complexion. Like most of our personal traits, our genes, ethnicity, gender, and age all impact the appearance and quality of our skin. Thick, thin, oily, dry, light, dark, soft, rough – these are all characteristics that help make us uniquely who we are. And while we cannot change the skin we have inherited, there are many factors that we can control that will positively or negatively influence our complexion’s health and overall appearance.
Attractive, youthful skin is often characterized by soft, supple texture with a wrinkle-free, smooth surface contour, and freedom from discolored blemishes. Many of our habits and lifestyle choices will have short and long-term impacts on our health and appearance. There are several skin solutions you can practice to help yours looking its best.
What can I do to keep my skin looking its best?
Perhaps on of the most overlooked skin solutions is water. Adequate daily water intake is critical for healthy skin. Water comprises as much as 60% of our total body content. Not only is it essential for bodily functions, it is also responsible for adding buoyancy and pliability to our complexion. Recommendations have varied over time, but the Institute of Medicine recommends between 2-3 liters of water intake per day for adults. Dehydration leads to dry, cracked and wrinkled skin that lacks luster. Many diets, weight loss techniques, and non-surgical rapid weight loss regimens achieve a slightly thinner body contour simply through water loss. But this doesn’t make a more beautiful face! Facial volume conveys youth through the minimization of wrinkles and by concealing the hollows and shadows that come from the underlying bone. Staying adequately hydrated is an inexpensive, easy way to maintain overall health and a beautiful complexion.
Sun exposure is arguably one of the greatest factors responsible for aging our skin. Ultraviolet radiation is well known for causing skin cancers because of the damage it causes to DNA in our skin cells. It can also damage the molecules like collagen and elastin in the skin. This leads to skin laxity over time, skin thinning and wrinkle production. Particularly in fair skin people, the sunlight will also lead to increased pigmentation in the skin in the form of diffuse “sun spots” or dyschromias. Over years of exposure, this can leave the skin with a mottled appearance from blotches and spots. The result is an uneven skin tone and complexion that leads to a more aged appearance. Some of these changes are hard to see with the naked eye, but under ultraviolet or black lighting, these skin irregularities are obvious. There are many video examples of this that utilize UV-lenses to help covey the realities of what years of sun exposure can do to our complexion.
Using a daily sunscreen of at least SPF 30 can help provide a baseline protection from the sun’s rays. For long periods of time outdoors, current guidelines suggest an SPF of 50 is most appropriate. You should also check to make sure your sunscreen protects against both UV-A and UV-B sunlight. As research and our understanding of skin response to UV-light evolves, so too are these recommendations. For the most up-to-date recommendations, you should discuss these with your facial surgeon, dermatologist, or other physician.
Our skin needs a robust blood supply to stay healthy, functioning and appearing like we want it to. As a result, any factor that diminishes the blood supply will starve the skin of oxygen and the crucial vitamins, minerals, proteins, and water needed to heal itself and reproduce healthy new skin cells. This stress will impact the skin appearance as well, leaving skin dehydrated, brittle, thin, and less attractive. This kind of stress can also leave skin unable to heal from injury – especially surgery. Smoking and nicotine use are one of the main culprits that cause microvascular changes throughout the body, leaving our complexions aged and less lively. Medical illnesses like diabetes cause similar issues throughout the body, including the skin. A healthy lifestyle and working with your primary physician to make sure your heart and vascular system are healthy can go a long way toward ensuring the health and attractiveness of your skin.
It may be common sense that goes without saying, but keeping our skin clean and hydrated are essential to a youthful, vibrant appearance! You should employ a daily skin care regimen to remove dirt and debris from your skin. Exfoliation of dead outer skin layers helps to aerate our pores and provide improved skin absorption of moisturizers. This can be done with exfoliating washes or even powered dermatologic brushes that gently scrub the outer skin layers. These steps will also help reduce bacteria and unwanted skin oils, can improve or eliminate acne, and will remove the dirt and debris that inhibit the luster of our skin.
Many patients suffer from medical conditions that effect the skin, and thereby negatively impact our appearance. Disorders like acne, rosacea, melasma, seborrheic eczema, and vitiligo are but a few of the common disorders that can alter our facial appearance. In addition, there are many systemic medical disorders like lupus and thyroid disease that can also have a negative impact on our complexion. I cannot stress enough that for patients with these medical issues, working closely with a dermatologist and a primary care physician can not only ensure an optimal state of health, but keep you looking your best, too!
In addition to the maintenance steps discussed above, there are a number of skin solutions available to patients to help repair damaged skin and restore a more youthful appearance. And fortunately, most of these rejuvenation options are non-invasive or minimally-invasive light and laser therapies that can be performed in the clinic setting with relatively little downtime. Technologies like SCITON® BBL™(broadband light) utilize specific wavelengths of light to target pigmented areas in sun-damaged skin. Areas of increased pigmentation and vascularity preferentially absorb the light energy, leading to their initial darkening followed by elimination as the surface exfoliates. Pore size and bacteria are also reduced, helping improve our face’s texture and reduce acne. Experience and evidence demonstrate results to be smoother, healthier appearing complexions with no wounding or downtime.
Additional modalities like SCITON® erbium:YAG full-field resurfacing and ProFractional™ laser therapies can be utilized for more comprehensive facial rejuvenation. Depending on the depth and distribution of laser energy delivered, the skin can be resurfaced to eliminate contour irregularities like fine lines and wrinkles. This is ideal for elimination of the fine vertical lines around the mouth and fine lines around the eyes. At the same time, pigmentation can be decreased along with tightening of the underlying support structures.
Skin Solutions Right for You
Choosing the skin solutions and treatment right for you will depend on your specific goals, your complexion, and the amount of downtime for healing that can be tolerated. Dr. Stallworth and the staff of Stadia Med Spa can help devise a treatment strategy that is right for you, and help repair and restore your facial skin. For your personal skin solutions get in touch with Dr. Stallworth today. Together, we can help you look on the outside, how you feel on the inside!