MAKING SENSE OF SKIN FITNESS

As a cosmetic Plastic Surgeon I spent the first half of my professional career performing only surgical rejuvenation. Twenty five years ago there really weren’t any non/minimally invasive options, so most patients presented reactively for rejuvenation. That is, they sought a face lift or eyelid lift only after they really needed it. Fast forward to today, and most patients are proactive about the way they are aging, trying to forestall the eventuality of an invasive procedure. I call this new frontier Comprehensive Beauty and Age Management, and I find its exploration fascinating.

I’ve always been into fitness, and like most of us today, I understand that a healthy and youthful body requires a certain dedication to regular fitness and proper nutrition. Well, the interesting thing is that Beauty For LifeTM, requires a very similar paradigm.

It is a concept which I call the SkinGymTM, and have come to embrace it in my clinics. Through a commitment to excellent skin nutraceuticals and a sophisticated regimen of laser and energy based devices aimed at various levels of the skin, patients are achieving perpetually younger, tighter, healthier and more vibrant exteriors.

To understand how this works requires a review of skin anatomy. For the purposes of this article we will dissect skin into 3 important layers. There is the dermis or
structural foundation layer of the skin. The dermis is a complex woven “fabric” of collagen and elastic fibers which give skin important physical characteristics, not the least of which is elasticity. Overlying this foundation is a thin veneer of layered cells called the epidermis. Like a veneer, the appearance of this layer is what gives skin its visual color, clarity, and beauty. The third layer is a deeper structure of anchoring fibers that attach the skin and subcutaneous fat to the muscles and connective tissue. Think wallpaper glue.

In youth, the dermis is thick and tight; the epidermis is smooth and uniformly colored and textured with a smooth, creamy appearance; and the subcutaneous ligaments hold the skin against the body tightly, like it’s shrink wrapped. In effect, our birthday suit appears to be made of Lycra! Those attractive firm and defined contours of youth are due in large part to the shaping qualities of Lycra- like skin elasticity. Over time, and accelerated by sun exposure and oxidation, the physical structure of each of these three layers is diminished. With progressive loss of elastic quality in each of the deeper layers, our once pristine Lycra techno-fabric behaves more like a baggy linen suit. And we all know that if you wear linen, you wear wrinkles.

Anatomy and physiology thus defined, lets hit the SkinGymTM. Body builders know that cycled exercise periods lead to inquiry and repair of the muscles and connective tissue. Proper nutrition accelerates the results by providing the building blocks for repair. Through a committed regimen of nutrition and cross training exercises, bodies can be made stronger, healthier, more fit... essentially younger. The exact same thing holds true for skin, particularly facial skin. The key to achieving skin fitness is to apply the various technologies available today appropriately to the three layers of the skin to rebuild the structure of youth. The beauty of this approach is that the rejuvenation is much more natural appearing than many other techniques which serve only to camouflage the signs of aging. Rebuilding the dermis is done using combinations of thermal lasers or infra-red
deep heating devices. Very significant replacement of collagen and elastic structure has been shown to not only improve appearance and texture, but to actually restore structure at the microscopic level.

Improvement of the epidermis may be achieved with lasers, ablatively or non- ablatively, depending on expectations and tolerance for downtime. When done ablatively, (with some tissue injury) the majority of sun damaged and genetically altered cells are removed and replaced with a new epidermal layer derived from deeper and more pristine progenitor cells. Using non-ablative IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) devices, we can selectively correct abnormal pigment or redness giving the skin better color and clarity. The most recent devices available today allows us to target deeper layers below the skin where anchoring ligaments reside. Treatments using focused ultrasound or radiofrequency devices allow focal injuries to target the collagen anchors of the skin essentially shrink wrapping the skin envelop back to its more youthful dimensions, making the skin look and feel tighter.

Of course, all these exercise stimulations require a very detailed medical grade skincare regimen to back them up. Today’s very sophisticated ingredients and delivery vehicles now provide nutrition at the skin level that is unparalleled by any other method. Putting it all together, into a proper skin rejuvenation clinic requires a very advanced array of powerful equipment, operated with an advanced degree of professional skill. Knowing how, when, and where to apply these devices to rebuild all aging layers of the integument, is paramount to success.

Having practiced these concepts for well over a decade now, we have shown that this programming works quite effectively to slow down and even reverse skin aging. Once understood, the “SkinGymTM”, concept is simple and familiar. As we like to say in our SkinGymTM: “Make Your Skin Fit!”.


Originally published: 08/22/16

Author
Scott Wells, MD

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