When it comes to researching the latest cosmetic treatments, there is So. Much. Information. Unfortunately, not all of it is helpful, or even accurate. How do you know what advice to trust— and who has the time to sort through it all anyway?
LJCSC to the rescue! Our La Jolla Cosmetic Medical Spa team has decided to publish a series of skincare FAQs focused entirely on helping you find the right treatment to solve your dermal dilemmas. In each installment, we’ll answer common questions and suggest treatment possibilities to help you get the most out of your next professional skincare sesh.
Hint: There’s usually more than one product or technology that can treat a certain skin concern, so we recommend reading all the Q&A, or bookmarking this post for future reference. Enjoy!
Top options for reducing sun damage, discoloration, and other surface-level skin flaws…and getting an enviable glow.
The effects of UV radiation, wind, air pollution, stress, acne, dryness, and other stressors can show on our skin even at a relatively young age. Surface-level damage manifests in many forms: dark spots, freckles, acne scars, chronic redness, visible pores, and fine lines to name a few. Whether you’re dealing with one of these issues, or you just feel like you skin lacks wow, the following Q & A will help you head in the right direction.
- What are my options to reduce dark spots?
- Which lasers are safe for treating darker skin?
- What is a good treatment for spider veins and rosacea?
- What is the best treatment for large pores?
- How do I know which scar treatment will work for me?
- What’s a quick treatment to get radiant skin for the weekend?
Brown patches, freckles, melasma, and “age spots” are all types of hyperpigmentation. Usually, sun damage is to blame. Determining a treatment will depend on your skin type, the severity of your issue, and how much downtime you can take. You have lots of options, including:
- At-home skincare. Milder hyperpigmentation can often be improved at home with medical grade skin brightening products. One of our faves? SkinMedica® Lytera Skin Brightening Complex, which contains an optimal blend of antioxidants, vitamins, and peptides to safely reduce dark spots and brighten any skin type. Hydroquinone pads are another treatment we recommend to lighten brown spots. Plus, don’t forget daily SPF—preventing hyperpigmentation is really the best route to take.
- Our go-to for treating more advanced sun damage, discoloration and melasma is the Cosmelan Depigmentation treatment. Cosmelan involves two in-office treatments, each followed up with an at-home masque for dramatic results. Plus, it’s safe for all skin types.
- BBL Photorejuvenation. BBL stands for “broadband light,” and it is a type of intense pulsed light treatment. It works by directing specific light wavelengths through the skin, which absorb brown and red pigments. While BBL is similar to a laser, it does not remove any skin layers, and most patients require no downtime from daily activities. However, BBL may not be the best option for tanned or dark skin types.
Laser resurfacing can be riskier for patients with darker skin because of an elevated risk of post-treatment discoloration, which can be permanent. That said, there are a few lasers that can be used safely on darker skin, granted treatment is performed by an appropriately trained provider with considerable experience treating patients with darker skin. In general, YAG lasers are more suitable than CO2 lasers, and non-ablative treatments pose less risk of post-treatment discoloration or scarring. A few options to consider:
- LaserGenesis is a non-ablative YAG laser that can be effective for reducing discoloration, acne scars, or surgical scars. It uses a longer (less intense) wavelength that is safer for dark skin than more aggressive lasers. A series of 4 to 6 treatments is typical to achieve satisfying results.
- The HALO™ Hybrid Fractional Laser can be adjusted to deliver a specific proportion of ablative vs. non-ablative treatment, allowing us to safely treat most skin types. The HALO can be a great option to improve skin texture, reduce scars and blemishes, and minimize fine lines.
- For safe, effective hair removal Elite+™ Laser is fantastic. It’s also a YAG laser, making it safer for darker skin tones, and it’s upgraded technology helps achieve lasting hair reduction in fewer treatments than older lasers.
If you’re not a good candidate for laser resurfacing, don’t despair! There are many alternatives that effectively treat many of the same concerns as lasers and are safe for dark skin. You may require a few more treatments to achieve full results, but it’s a trade-off that’s worth it to ensure your skin’s health. A couple we recommend:
- A HydraFacial® MD can be customized to target fine lines, pigmentation irregularities, puffy eyelids, acne-prone skin and other issues. Other perks: it feels great and there is no downtime.
- Thermi® RF treatments use radiofrequency energy, rather than lasers, to address aging and improve the complexion. ThermiSmoothFace is totally non-invasive and excellent for minimizing fine lines and wrinkles, especially around the nose, mouth and eyes. ThermiTight reduces sagging around the jowls and neckline.
- Microneedling is another fantastic skin resurfacing treatment for all skin types. It works by creating microscopic openings in the skin, which increases natural collagen production and cell turnover to help reduce fine lines, scarring, stretch marks and many other common skin complaints.
There are several great options to reduce persistent redness, veins, or a splotchy complexion:
- Pulsed dye lasers, such as the VBeam® Perfecta, are excellent for reducing more pronounced rosacea and other vascular issues, such port wine stains.
- BBL photorejuvenation can also be a great option to reduce redness from broken capillaries over a wider area.
- For spider veins, we’ll often recommend the Elite+™ Nd:YAG laser, which is particularly effective at treating purple, bluish, and red veins.
In truth, there isn’t anything you can do to permanently shrink your pores. That said, there are several skin resurfacing treatments that encourage smoother, firmer and healthier skin overall, which can do a pretty good job of minimizing pores. If you’re plagued by problematic pores, look into one of these options:
- The HALO™ Laser is one of our top options to help minimize pores with minimal downtime.
- If you prefer a non-laser option, HydraFacial® MD can deep-cleanse, improve texture, and hydrate the skin, which can help diminish pores. It’s safe for all skin types, and there’s zero downtime. Microneedling is another option—it’s safe for any skin type, and because it prompts natural skin renewal, results can be long-lasting.
While complete scar removal is not always possible, the right scar treatment can dramatically fade and minimize scars from acne, surgery, trauma, or other causes. Which scar treatment is right for you will depend on the size, origin, and location of your scar, as well as what results you are hoping to achieve. Here are a few options to look into:
- To reduce acne scars, we’ve had great success with the Sciton ProFractional® laser. This fractionated laser induces collagen production and helps your skin replace damaged cells with healthier, unblemished cells with minimal downtime. Another option is the HALO™ Hybrid Laser; it’s great for reducing mild to moderate chicken pox scars and blemishes from injury.
- To help scars from surgery fade, honoring post-op instructions for recovery and incision care are key—and whatever you do, don’t allow movement or pressure to stress healing scars. That said, a topical treatment can also help ensure your scars heal as thin, light and smoothly as possible. Options include silicone sheets, creams, or our San Diego plastic surgeons’ fave, Oxygenetix Foundation, which both conceals and promotes healing for many types of scars.
- To minimize indented scars, dermal filler injections are one of the quickest, most effective treatments. Restylane®, Juvéderm®, or Radiesse® can all provide excellent (and instant) results that last for months.
- Treatment for hypertrophic or keloid scars may require a combination of therapies, including laser treatments, topical pressure treatments, injections of medications such as 5-fluorouracil (5-FU), or even surgical excision. It’s best to see a board certified plastic surgeon to have raised, discolored, painful, or overgrown scars evaluated.
If you want to get younger looking skin in a hurry, you need three things: a skin treatment that requires little or no downtime, and an experienced, qualified skincare provider, and realistic expectations—a quick-turnaround treatment will be less aggressive, so while you will notice a brighter, more youthful glow, it’s not going to erase years of damage overnight. That said, here are some great picks for party-ready skin:
- Never underestimate the power of a fabulous customized facial! This standby of skincare is the perfect choice to revitalize, brighten, and help your skin feel fresh and glowy for days, with virtually no risk for side effects—plus it’s the perfect excuse to take a break from your hectic schedule.
- If you have a couple of days before you need your skin on fleek, a light chemical peel may be just the ticket. See our nifty guide to chemical peels to find what appeals to you!
Have more questions? We’re ready to help!
Here’s the truth: all you really need to figure out which skin treatments are right for you is a trusted, experienced skin care professional who is knowledgeable in the full range of non-surgical cosmetic treatments and can match you with the right options for your skin type, goals, and personal preferences.
If you’re in the San Diego area, all the skin treatments discussed above are available right here at LJCSC, so if you are ready to take your skin to the next level of beautiful, give us a call at 858-452-1981 or contact us online. Your professional skin evaluation and consultation are always free!