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For Americans in the 21st century, what’s the secret to aging gracefully? Simple, says Dr. Bernard Krupp, of Specter and Krupp Center for Facial Enhancement of Towson. It’s “working from the inside out.” In addition to external skin care, people should be concerned about nutrition, exercise, not smoking, hydration, etc.
“It’s all important,” he adds.
Dr. Kelly Sullivan, of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery of Annapolis, shares his sentiment. If you aren’t taking care of your body, don’t bother getting procedures—it doesn’t make sense to fix the damage if you aren’t going to wear sunscreen, she points out.
“If you really want to change your skin, you have to change your habits,” advises Dr. Krupp. In fact, skin maintenance is both the first and final step to anti-aging.
Beauty’s Only Skin-Deep
The first step toward preserving your skin is to schedule a consultation with a skincare specialist. Dr. Krupp begins with the Visia machine, which gives the patient a computerized analysis of the complexion, showing spots, lines, pores, and more. It’s a quantifiable way of assessing the skin, and it allows people to see the real damage. After beginning treatment, patients can get reassessed and watch their numbers improve.
Topical skin-care products are the next logical step, but do they really work?
“Here’s the reality,” says Dr. Krupp. “There’s a lot of marketing out there, and very little to show for it.”
He recommends working with a skin-care specialist to get products tailored specifically to your skin type. Doctors can tell you not only which product you need, but also how to use it properly to achieve the best results.
Dr. Sullivan, too, thinks many products aren’t worth the hype. But, she says, the ones you get from a skin specialist in a medical office can work by preventing and repairing sun damage, and even reversing pre-cancer. Her favorite medical skincare lines are Skinceuticals and Neocutis, because they’re backed by scientific research and “they’re not a high-maintenance 12-step routine. They’re all very manageable. And people see a difference and feel a difference.”
Nonsurgical Treatments—Wrinkles and Spots
The next step to looking younger is the increasingly large buffet of minimally invasive treatments.
For wrinkles and fine lines, Botox and fillers are popular options for erasing years off the face. Dr. Krupp calls Botox “the king of muscle relaxants,” and touts how incredibly easy it is. A little goes a long way in making a difference with fine lines.
Dr. Sullivan says Botox is good when you’re just starting to see wrinkles; it helps soften lines and can even prevent them from forming. If you lessen lines while they’re still subtle, it’s a lot less dramatic than getting a facelift later.
Fillers can improve the appearance of the skin around the lower eyelids, nose, and mouth (“smile lines”). Dr. Krupp likes that the procedure takes only 10 or 15 minutes, shows immediate results, and lasts six to eight months.
For treating wrinkles, sun spots, and other blemishes, numerous peels are also available, with varying depths and, therefore, varying recovery times. The strongest is the CO2 laser, which Dr. Krupp calls “a heavy hitter.” It’s not surgery, but it’s a very deep peel, and patients should expect a couple weeks of downtime. Still, most people see great rejuvenation of the skin surface.
Dr. Krupp also recommends the new Fraxel laser, which allows the skin to heal in just a few days, and also allows him to vary the depth of a peel. It’s not as intense as the CO2, and therefore not quite as effective, but it also shows results without a lot of downtime.