09 Dec Skin Treatments
The Alphabet Soup of Skin Procedures
IPL? Laser Resurfacing? Chemical Peels? Radiofrequency? Microneedling? How can you make heads or tails of all your options?!
We are blessed to live in a time where there are many highly effective options to treat common facial skin changes related to sun damage and aging. However, many of these options are confusing to physicians, let alone our patients. Without getting into the weeds about each of these options, here are some key points to help you decide which options to investigate:
- Lasers / Chemical Peels – Both of these options are attempting to remove the superficial layers of your skin and encourage the growth of newer/healthier skin. We call this process resurfacing, and it results in improved skin texture and reduced lines. Lasers achieve this goal by using light energy, while chemical peels accomplish this by using acids to intentionally injure the damaged skin. Both options can be anywhere from mild to aggressive, depending on the desired outcome, and with a corresponding amount of downtime. Your exact skin tone, the degree of damage, and your tolerance for downtime, will all help determine which option is best for you.
- Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) – IPL uses light energy, similar to laser treatments, but without causing any injury to the superficial layers of your skin. This means IPL is NOT intended to resurface your skin. Instead, IPL uses light energy to target the “reds and browns” in your skin. This “brown and red” refers to improving the small spider-like blood vessels or pigmented brown spots that appear from sun damage. IPL can also cause improved firmness in your skin. IPL treatments typically require a series of at least 3 monthly treatments. Downtime is minimal.
- Radiofrequency (RF) – Radiofrequency is a technology designed to heat the deeper layers of your skin, and the tissues beneath your skin. This effectively results in tightening of the skin. Many people describe this phenomenon as similar to “shrink-wrapping” the skin. Radiofrequency does not replace surgery, where needed, but can dramatically improve mild to moderate skin laxity. This is also usually done in a series of treatments, with minimal downtime.
- Microneedling – Microneedling is a procedure where very fine channels/pores are created in your skin using tiny needles. By creating these “columns” of injury in your skin, your skin responds by healing back firmer (with more collagen). Microneedling is commonly used in areas of acne or other scarring, and can also be combined with other treatments such as PRP (“vampire facials”) or even radiofrequency. Microneedling is also typically done as a series, with minimal downtime.
As you can see, the treatment options are numerous and will vary tremendously based on your skin type and desired treatment goals. In general fall and winter are a great time to pursue these treatments as it is easier to avoid direct sunlight afterwards and maximize your results. We look forward to walking you through this alphabet soup and wish you the best of luck with your skincare!