Fall is typically the time when your skin freaks out — either with acne or dry patches — thanks to the changing climate. Keeping reading to find out which skin care treatments can help remedy the situation from the pros at Schweiger Dermatology Group.
When your skin is protected by clothing and the sun's rays are not as strong, the Fall and Winter might be the best seasons to treat your skin to a cosmetic procedure. Here, Dr. Sandra Kopp and Dr. Scott Dunbar from Schweiger Dermatology Group weigh in on the best skin treatments to get now so your skin will be perfection before Spring.
What it does: Treats acne scarring, fine lines, and hyperpigmentation, and reduces melasma and sun spots.
Why do it in the Winter: Fraxel 1550 (used for scars and wrinkles) usually results in an average of three days of redness and swelling, while Fraxel 1927 (used for pigmentation) results in rough darkened skin that peels off in an average of five to seven days. "It is especially important for those treating melasma or sun spots to do this in the Winter so they aren't likely to experience a reoccurrence," says Dr. Kopp. "Even small amounts of sun exposure in those prone to melasma can cause the pigment to come back." The inflammation caused by the laser causes extreme sensitivity to sunlight and risk of sunburn and pigmentary changes. Intense heat will also slow or impair healing.
Treatment: CO2 Laser
What it does: CO2 laser is one of the most versatile and effective lasers for resurfacing. It is used for fine lines, wrinkles, acne scars, discoloration, sun spots, textural irregularities, and stretch marks.
Why do it in the Winter: Unlike Fraxel, most people only need one treatment, but the downtime is usually more significant. Redness and swelling can last days to weeks, so proper preparation is necessary. "Most people experience a background redness that can be covered with makeup for a few weeks after the procedure that is extremely vulnerable to sun light," says Dr. Kopp. "As with Fraxel, Summer heat is not ideal for healing."
Treatment: Chemical Peels
What it does: Peels can be used for evening skin tone, acne, sun damage, and resurfacing. There are different depths ranging from superficial which just target the outermost layer of the skin, to deep which targets the lower portion, the dermis.
Why do it in the Winter: Superficial peels can be done any time of year, but in general all peels are best saved for the winter, especially for darker skin types. "Many peeling solutions make you more sensitive to sun burn and can cause darkening on areas that are not protected," explains Dr. Kopp.
Treatment: Intense Pulsed Light (IPL)
What it does: IPL is great for treating blood vessels, background redness/rosacea, acne, and sun damage on the face, neck, chest, and hands. It can also be used for hair removal. Treatments typically are done every 3-4 weeks for an average of 4-6 treatments. Though there is little downtime, sun protection is crucial to proper healing. IPL is not idea for darker skin types.
Why do it in the Winter: IPL can be done any time of year, but it is ideal in the winter because most people spend less time outdoors. Sunlight can lead to possible darkening of treated spots if sun avoidance isn't practiced and rosacea is usually worsened by sun exposure.
Treatment: Photodynamic Therapy or Blue Light Therapy
What it does: This treatment improves the cosmetic appearance of sun damaged skin while also killing any pre-cancerous cells. A medication is applied to the entire face and soaks in for around an hour. "This allows any sun damaged skin and pre-cancerous cells to 'suck up' the medicine, while the normal cells do not," explains Dr. Dunbar. "Then we shine LED lights at the face which activates the medicine, killing the damaged cells that absorbed the photosensitizer medication. This seeks out not only visibly damaged cells, but also microscopically small pre-cancers that haven't even shown up on the skin yet."
Why do it in the Winter: Patients need to strictly avoid the sun since traces of the photosensitizer medication remain on the face for several days.
Treatment: Laser Hair Removal
What it does: Laser hair removal targets pigment in the hair follicle to reduce or illuminate regrowth of the hair. Treatments typically are done every four to eight weeks for an average of four to six treatments. The hair tends to grow back thinner and slower with each treatment so intervals may increase.
Why do it in the Winter: "It is best done on untanned skin to reduce the risk of pigmentation after the treatment and increase the contrast between the hair follicle and normal skin," says Dr. Kopp. "Though there is little downtime, sun protection is crucial to proper healing."
Treatment: Sclerotherapy and Laser Vein Removal
What it does: Tiny veins on the legs can be treated with laser therapy; however, larger ones may require an injection to help seal off unsightly veins, which is known as sclerotherapy. Repeat treatment may be necessary to completely destroy the vein.
Why do it in the Winter: "Unfortunately it is very common to have hyperpigmentation that may last a few weeks after treatment of a vein so it is best done in pants season," advises Dr. Kopp. "Also, it is recommended to wear compression stockings after treatment which is not ideal in the hot Summer."
Treatment: Micropeel + Photodynamic Therapy
What it does: "This treatment is intended to give the greatest improvement both in cosmetic appearance of sun damage and destroy as many abnormal cells as possible," says Dr. Dunbar. Skin is pretreated with a laser to peel off the protective surface cells, then the medication is applied for blue light therapy, this allows even greater efficacy of the photosensitizer drug and results in a much augmented effect.
Why do it in the winter: "This 'big gun' procedure works beautifully, but you need to plan for some time off to heal, and avoid the sun for several days," says Dr. Dunbar. The reactions can be impressive, even if you have only a moderate amount of sun damage. "You will come out with much improved, younger looking, healthier skin," says Dr. Dunbar.