Turn on any television channel and you will see promises for the perfect complexion from a variety of skin care companies. As a plastic surgeon, I must be honest with you that most all of them are likely to fall short on their promises. The reality is that the key to drastically changing your complexion starts much deeper in the dermis than over the counter skin care products penetrate.
So what options are best if you want to even out your skin tone by getting rid of age spots and blemishes?
To really see major changes in complexion once your skin starts to show signs of aging, you will need to perform some form of resurfacing. A basic approach is washing your face then using an exfoliating lotion like alphahydroxy acid or glycolic acid. Adding a good 4% hydroquinone product will help decrease pigment changes and age spots. Finally, a good sunscreen that blocks UVA and UVB rays will protect the new skin cells and prevent the signs of aging from returning. This is really the only option for a topical miracle in my book.
You can add more steps and repeat the routine in the evening, but for people who don’t like excessive skin care routines, these four products can lead to amazing results after two or three months. My husband has seen tremendous results with a simple Obagi C-RX travel kit, which he has used for about five months now. You can certainly get even better results with the full skin care line, but it’s not every patient who can stick to a seven-step routine.
Patients with more damage to their skin should add Retin-A. This treatment actually can reverse aging at a cellular level in the skin. It can take the skin 6 weeks to resurface, and during this time skin can be sensitive and peel. But once the old skin has peeled off, a new younger looking layer of skin is revealed. Retin-A can even help treat precancerous spots on the skin.
While skincare can lead to dramatic changes, it’s really meant for maintenance. The earlier and more regularly someone begins good skincare and sun protection, the longer until a more invasive procedure is needed to resurface the skin. Lasers and peels provide more dramatic results. There are too many different lasers and peels to talk about them all, but the spectrum of treatment varies from a light treatment with no downtime that temporarily gives the skin a glow to deeper treatments with two weeks of downtime and significant changes in the appearance of wrinkles, age spots, and dull skin. Using proper skin care not only improves the even penetration of peels and lasers, but it minimizes risks of discoloration after the procedure.