The Science of Medically Based Skin Care

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At Hubbard Plastic Surgery, our medically licensed skin care specialists in Virginia Beach use a variety of scientifically proven products, peels, and procedures to repair, rejuvenate, and protect the skin. Many of these advanced products are available only through medical practices.

Our experienced staff brings a high level of expertise to our skin rejuvenation patients. Request a consultation online or contact our office by calling (757) 687-1900 to learn more about skin care in Virginia Beach, VA.

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Why Should I Choose Medically Based Skin Care?

A variety of treatments and skin care products are on the market today that have not been scientifically proven in controlled medical trials to reverse signs of aging and sun damage. Patients must be extremely careful about choosing easily available, over-the-counter skin care treatments and products. Even though some do include active ingredients that are proven effective, they rarely contain high enough concentrations of these ingredients to produce the desired results. These less effective products include almost all popular cosmetic brands, even those one might find at an expensive beauty counter in a department store.

Most types of facials offered in non-medical spas and all forms of topical oxygen therapy to the skin also fall into the category of scientifically unfounded treatments. It is always best to consult a licensed medical professional for safe and effective treatment of skin conditions.

Effective Topical Skin Care

When it comes to establishing an effective skin care routine from a medical and scientific point of view, we typically have 4 goals to accomplish:

  • Correction of solar elastosis: This condition is commonly referred to as sun damage. Usually seen as rough, blotchy, spotted skin, often with pronounced lines and wrinkles, it is a result of prolonged exposure to UV radiation.
  • Improvement of skin hydration: The most effective products augment our skin's production of glycosaminoglycans such as hyaluronic acid, which are molecules that hold hydration in the skin. Our ability to produce these molecules deteriorates as we age, leading to dryness and loss of fullness and elasticity.
  • Stimulation of collagen production: Collagen is a protein found in our skin that provides a flexible and resilient structure, creating the firmness and elasticity we associate with youthful skin. As we age and are exposed to UV radiation, the collagen in our skin breaks down, allowing wrinkles and sagginess to set in. Loss of collagen also contributes to the thinness and crêpiness we associate with aging skin.
  • Development of new blood vessels: Blood vessels are incredibly important to our skin's ability to maintain a healthy, youthful appearance. They bring oxygen and nutrients to the skin, help remove waste products, and are vital to the healing process. As we age, our blood vessels become thicker and less flexible, making it much more difficult for our blood to deliver nourishment to the skin and rid the skin of harmful waste.

Effective Topical Skin Care Products

The medical community has come to agreement on the proven effectiveness of only a very few topical products for treating the signs of aging and sun damage. Studies have established the value of the following:

  • Tretinoin, commonly seen as Retin-A or Renova: Tretinoin accomplishes all 4 of our skin care goals — it corrects rough skin and uneven pigmentation, improves our skin's ability to hydrate, stimulates collagen production, and improves vascular function. The use of tretinoin requires patience at first, because irritation occurs in the early weeks of treatment as your skin gets used to the product. Persistence is rewarded, however. Patients who use tretinoin as part of their regular skin care routine see long-lasting benefits including improved tone and texture and reduction of fine lines. Tretinoin does increase UV sensitivity, however, so patients are encouraged to limit sun exposure and apply sunscreen daily while using this product.
  • Hydroquinone, usually a 4% concentration: Hydroquinone is commonly known as a "skin-bleaching" agent. It is proven extremely effective at correcting the blotchy, irregular pigmented appearance of sun-damaged skin. It actually blocks the process in the skin that causes hyperpigmentation such as melasma, sun spots, age spots, and freckles. Experience has shown that hydroquinone is significantly more effective at evening out skin coloration when used simultaneously with a tretinoin product and/or an alpha hydroxy acid. The combination of these products provides a 1-2 punch to uneven pigmentation — it blocks production of uneven pigmentation and allows the skin to break up and get rid of existing areas of discoloration, leaving behind a smooth and even complexion. One thing to note is that hydroquinone also increases your skin's sensitivity to UV radiation, so it is important to reduce sun exposure and apply sunscreen frequently while using this product.
  • Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) such as glycolic acid or lactic acid: Alpha hydroxy acid products have been proven to increase glycosaminoglycans, improving hydration of the skin. AHA is a key component in chemical peels, encouraging healthy exfoliation of the skin, and is an effective treatment for sun damage, because it improves texture and tone and corrects uneven pigmentation.
  • Vitamin C (L-Ascorbic acid): Topical vitamin C penetrates directly into skin at levels up to 20 times higher than you can safely achieve through eating or drinking vitamin C supplements. It has been shown to augment healthy collagen production in the skin and improve uneven pigmentation, but its greatest contribution is prevention of ongoing and future sun and environmental damage. As a free radical scavenger, it protects us from the harmful effects of UV radiation, and it has been shown to immediately and dramatically decrease inflammation due to sunburn. Studies have also shown that use of properly formulated topical vitamin C enhances the skin's natural protection against UV radiation and, when used in combination with sunscreen, dramatically increases the spectrum of protection.

You May Also Need To Know

Inevitably, the treatments most highly effective in reversing aging and sun damage are much more invasive than topical creams, gels, serums, and scrubs. These include treatments such as laser resurfacing, surgical (deep) chemical peels, and dermabrasion. Considered surgical procedures, these treatments require general anesthesia and careful, closely supervised recovery. Surprisingly, most patients are unaware that less-invasive versions of these treatments are also available.

Microdermabrasion and light-to-medium depth peels can be performed quickly and painlessly with minimal downtime. These gentler but still highly effective procedures chemically and mechanically exfoliate the outer layers of the skin, equalize irregular pigmentation on the face, and in our experience, improve fine lines with regular treatment. They work extremely well in combination with a medically supervised skin care regimen as outlined above, enabling products to penetrate deeper into the skin and work even more effectively. Patients wishing to correct signs of aging and sun damage should consider including regular peels and microdermabrasion as part of a healthy skin care routine.

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