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NEW YORK (November 2, 2005)
– In this age of "instant" reality-television transformations, many
consumers may have unrealistic expectations when seeking a cosmetic
treatment. Whether it’s aging skin on the face or neck, noticeable veins on
the legs, or even a few stubborn areas of fat, the desire for a quick fix
should not outweigh the importance of the safety and effectiveness of the
treatment. That is why a dermatologist – a doctor who specializes in
treating the skin – can offer individualized advice and cosmetic treatment
options to change body concerns into results.
Speaking today at the American Academy of Dermatology’s (Academy) skin
academy 2005, dermatologist Susan H. Weinkle, M.D., assistant clinical
professor of dermatology at the University of South Florida, Tampa, Fla.,
discussed patients’ three most common cosmetic concerns and offered tips for
maintaining healthy skin.
"While having great looking skin has a lot to do with genetics, it has even
more to do with how you have protected and treated your skin over the years,
especially the skin on the face," said Dr. Weinkle. "But, a dermatologist
can provide a variety of options to address concerns on any part of the
According to a recent Academy poll, facial rejuvenation is among the top
three cosmetic procedures patients ask about at the dermatologist’s office.
The type of treatment recommended by a dermatologist depends upon the
appearance and location of fine lines, wrinkles and age spots.
Dermatologists often recommend that patients start with over-the-counter or
prescription products that contain retinoids, peptides or antioxidants, such
as vitamin C.
"While most patients are seeking anti-aging benefits for their face, they
can get the same anti-aging benefits by applying these products to their
hands, neck and chest," advised Dr. Weinkle. In fact, the Academy poll
confirms that 40 percent of individuals consider non-facial aging skin to be
one of their top skin-related health concerns.
For more help than is available at the cosmetics counter or by prescription,
particularly for the face, dermatologists often recommend a skin filler to
treat stubborn wrinkles and deep lines on the face. One of the newest skin
fillers is hyaluronic acid, which works by pulling water into the skin,
resulting in increased skin plumping and volume. The results of hyaluronic
acid last approximately four to six months.
Another treatment option may be poly-L lactic acid which is considered a
"dermal stimulator" because it stimulates the skin cells to make collagen –
providing a slow correction over time. Patients are treated every month for
four to five months until the correct results are achieved, and results
typically last one to two years. "Research studies of poly-L lactic acid for
approval by the Food and Drug Administration are just beginning," said Dr.
Weinkle. "If proven effective, it could be a new option for patients looking
for a safe, long-lasting fix for wrinkles."
In addition, a new filler known as calcium hydroxylapatite with a
methylcellulose vehicle – which is currently FDA approved for other purposes
– is being studied as an injectable skin filler. The synthetic compounds
used in this filler contain beads of calcium hydroxylapatite, which is a
substance used to replace missing bones. It is estimated that this filler
may last about one year, but the exact duration has not been demonstrated
The appearance of spider veins on the legs can be cause for concern for some
individuals. While there can be pain associated with spider veins, they also
can cause undue emotional stress as individuals try to cover up the
unsightly red, blue or green veins.
Sclerotherapy, a non-surgical procedure that permanently removes unwanted
veins, is the standard treatment for spider veins. A special sclerosing
solution is injected with a very fine needle into the blood vessel, which
irreversibly alters the vessel wall causing it to be absorbed so that it
fully and permanently disappears.
"Patients who have received sclerotherapy treatment for spider veins express
great relief to be able to forgo covering up with clothes or makeup and be
able to wear shorts and skirts again," said Dr. Weinkle. "I advise patients
who are predisposed to developing spider veins and even those who are not,
that if you are on your feet all day, the best way to help prevent spider
veins is to wear support pantyhose." While Dr. Weinkle acknowledges that the
term "support hose" conjures up images of bulky and unattractive,
orange-toned nylons, she recommends that patient’s investigate today’s
versions which come in lighter materials and in a variety of colors.
The Battle of the Bulge
According to the Academy poll, when diet and exercise fall short of creating
a consumer’s ideal physique, liposuction is the cosmetic procedure that
consumers would most seek (28 percent). Tumescent liposuction is a
dermatologist-developed, safe and effective solution to eliminating unwanted
Performed under local anesthesia, tumescent liposuction offers patients
lower risk and faster recovery than other methods. "The local anesthetic
technique is so safe and effective that it makes general anesthesia for
liposuction virtually obsolete," Dr. Weinkle explained.
"One of the most popular misconceptions about stubborn fat deposits is that
these can be lost through diet and exercise," said Dr. Weinkle. "While diet
and exercise are important aspects in achieving a healthy body and can
produce moderate weight loss results over an extended period of time,
neither is effective for spot reduction, which is where liposuction can be
Another concern is the weight gain and loss associated with pregnancy that
affects the abdomen. "Most women with the lower abdomen ‘roll’ don’t need a
tummy tuck – even if they have stretch marks and poor elasticity," advises
Dr. Weinkle. "Rather than undergoing a surgical abdominoplasty or tummy
tuck, liposuction provides women with a safer alternative that removes the
fat gently and relatively pain-free to allow the skin to retract, reducing
the stomach’s prominence."
The Most Important Way to Protect the Skin
Regardless of the type of treatment a patient seeks, anyone who is serious
about caring for his or her skin must wear sunscreen, stated Dr. Weinkle.
"Using a sunscreen daily, preferably one with an sun-protection factor (SPF)
of 15 or higher, together avoiding tanning, either outdoors or artificially
at a tanning salon, can significantly decrease the damage to the skin and
keep the skin’s texture and tone smooth and clear," she remarked.
Dr. Weinkle also recommends that anyone who works or plays in the sun choose
clothing that offers ultraviolet (UV) ray protection. In general, clothing
made of tightly-woven fabric performs the best at protecting skin from the
sun. Darker colored fabrics also are favored over lighter colors for
increased sun protection.
"Patient safety is the dermatologist’s number one concern," reminded Dr.
Weinkle. Before considering any type of cosmetic procedure, it is important
to consult with a dermatologist to determine if the treatment appropriately
addresses the concern. "Talking with a dermatologist about a cosmetic
procedure can relieve anxiety about the treatment and ensure that the
results of the procedure will meet the patient’s expectations," said Dr.
The consumer poll on skin-related health behaviors and attitudes was a
Web-based poll fielded in September 2005 by the Segmentation Company, a
Division of Yankelovich, Inc., in collaboration with the Academy. A total of
1,112 respondents age 18 and over responded to the poll.
Headquartered in Schaumburg, Ill., the American Academy of Dermatology
(Academy), founded in 1938, is the largest, most influential, and most
representative of all dermatologic associations. With a membership of more
than 14,000 physicians worldwide, the Academy is committed to: advancing the
diagnosis and medical, surgical and cosmetic treatment of the skin, hair and
nails; advocating high standards in clinical practice, education, and
research in dermatology; and supporting and enhancing patient care for a
lifetime of healthier skin, hair and nails. For more information, contact
the Academy at 1-888-462-DERM (3376) or
Knowledge is Power.
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