2008 LA Today: Getting Your Body Ready for the Summer
Warmer weather, longer days and the opportunity to dress in more revealing attire, all combine to make this seasonal rite of passage a perennial opportunity to direct attention to looking good.
Cellulite, the evil nemesis of any woman in a bathing suit or shorts, is visually characterized by an “orange peel” or “dimpling” appearance of the skin, usually along the thighs or buttocks. The cause of cellulite remains a matter of debate, but many researchers believe it’s a combination of an endocrine-metabolic microcirculatory disorder that affects the cellular matrix of fatty tissue immediately beneath the skin surface. Attempts to disrupt this microcirculatory problem, has created an entire lexicon of products and treatments, none of which has been scientifically proven more advantageous or worthy than another. I know of no creams or topical preparations that have any scientifically proven validity. I am aware that companies that manufacture laser products are diligently working on instrumentation that might prove of value in the future. It might make sense to utilize vigorous and therapeutic massage to stimulate the microcirculation in affected areas, however this is pure speculation.
Varicose veins come in two basic varieties, tiny or small spider veins and larger or more disfiguring veins. Spider veins are often noticed in the lower extremity and occasionally on the face. Larger veins are usually limited to the legs. Both represent a defect in the valvular system that directs the return flow of blood. I am unaware of any proven effective topical treatment for spider veins. The standard therapy consists of tiny injections of a sclerosing agent or concentrated saline solution directly into the affected vein. These agents should not be used on the face. Laser therapy has proven to be effective in reducing tiny spider veins.
Laser hair reduction is an effective method of treating unwanted hair growth. Multiple treatments are often required in order to achieve destruction at the hair follicle level and interrupt hair growth phases. Laser wave lengths are less effective against lighter colored hair and have almost no effect on grey hair. Avoidance of exposure to sunlight to the treated areas is an important precaution.
The healthy glow from a suntan can have dangerous repercussions. Sun damaged skin is best treated by prevention. Natural aging is commonly characterized by a thinning of the skin and a deepening of the normal facial expression lines. As the skin ages, it becomes more fragile and crinkles (thin fine wrinkles) appear. Unlike natural aging, photo-aging is distinguished by coarse wrinkles, dry and rough skin, abundant freckling, loss of firmness and skin discoloration. Habitual tanning or unprotected outdoor activity severely damages the elastic fibers below the surface of the skin, causing it to appear tight and leathery. At the same time, the skin loses its ability to bounce back from stretching and deep, dry wrinkles develop.
The best prevention for photo-aging is a comprehensive sun safety program that includes the use of sunscreens, wearing protective clothing and hats, and seeking shade whenever possible. Facial peels and more recently developed laser treatments can have a profound effect on sun damaged skin. UV-A protection is better with a higher SPF (30 or greater). Cosmeceuticals are the fastest-growing segment of the natural personal care industry. Cosmeceuticals represent a sort of marriage between cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. Like cosmetics, cosmeceuticals are topically applied, but they contain ingredients that influence the biological function of the skin. Cosmeceuticals improve appearance, but they do so by delivering nutrients necessary for healthy skin. The industry is challenged to provide convincing evidence of the clinical effectiveness of many of these compounds however certain scientifically substantiated ingredients such as retinol, antioxidants and growth factor peptides have yielded promising clinical and histological supportive evidence to assist in the anti-aging process.
Today, deep chemical peels have mostly been replaced with laser resurfacing treatments. The laser system provides a more controlled and elegant procedure. Newer fractional resurfacing devices provide even more effective treatments. The laser allows for a control of penetration or depth that simply was not available in previous chemical procedures. Recovery and healing is shorter with laser procedures than deeper chemical peels. Increasingly popular are the very superficial peels performed using minimally abrasive fruit acids and these are often referred to as “lunchtime peels”, indicative of the amount of time it takes to perform and the ability to return to work thereafter. The lunchtime peels are very superficial and while rejuvenating, are not indicated for sun or aging skin damage.Back to Print