If you’re older than 35 and you look in the mirror, chances are you’ve started to notice something no one wants to see – facial wrinkles or even lines. Inland Empire, California where I practice, has a reputation as one of America’s most wrinkle prone regions. It may be too soon to start thinking about a facelift. But you want to do something to “roll back the clock” and lessen the lines and wrinkles you see. You’ve heard that laser treatments can smooth wrinkles, but also wonder if new methods like microneedling or Renuvion would be better for you. Or perhaps you have an olive complexion or darker skin and wonder if there are therapies that can give you a younger look without the risk of dark spots, light spots or scarring. What are your best options?
In my Inland Empire facial plastic surgery practice, I try to offer my patients treatments that make the most sense for them. If a certain modality works a little better than others, but costs far more or requires multiple treatments that add up, I’ll frequently recommend a more practical approach. I’d like to give you the benefit of my experience here.
The key to battling aging skin, wrinkles and lines
A key focus of most therapies for wrinkles and lines is increasing your production of two proteins – collagen and elastin. Collagen is the building block of healthy skin. Its fibers keep your skin from sagging. The therapies described here stimulate your body’s collagen and elastin production. To make the most collagen and get the best results, you’ll need to make sure you’re eating right. According to The Cleveland Clinic, you’ll need amino acids you can get from protein-rich foods like fish, chicken, beef, eggs, dairy products and beans.
To turn those amino acids into collagen, your body also needs vitamin C, zinc and copper. Vitamin C-rich foods include citrus fruits, strawberries, red, yellow and green peppers, tomatoes, broccoli and greens. Shellfish, nuts, whole grains and beans will provide zinc and copper. Studies also show that the nutrient flavanol can significantly improve your skin. While it’s found in many foods, the best sources for flavanol include (in this order) natural cocoa, green tea and red wine (in moderation). You can enjoy tasty food and drink while improving your chances of getting great results with one of the therapies listed below. (see Can Food Fight Wrinkles and Aging Skin?)
Microneedling works well for fine lines, wrinkles, acne scars, even darker complexions
If you’re younger and have healthy skin, you may be a good candidate for microneedling. It doesn’t work as deeply as ablative laser treatments, which remove rather than treat the top layer of skin. However, microneedling can genuinely improve a number of skin conditions without the discomfort and downtime experienced with laser treatments. Studies conducted at physician’s offices and medical spas closely supervised by qualified doctors found that microneedling can effectively rejuvenate dull or aging skin.
Microneedling can also reduce or eliminate fine lines and wrinkles, acne scars, other scarring and stretch marks. Because it generally avoids the discoloration caused by other methods, microneedling is a better option for darker complexions.
To get the best results, a medical-grade microneedling device passes through your skin at a 90-degree angle. It penetrates deep enough to reach lower skin layers, activating the healing process. Studies have found that the right microneedling device used properly can ultimately increase collagen and elastin production by up to 400%! Collagen fibers form in a matrix found in healthy skin rather than the parallel pattern seen in scar tissue. It generally takes 4-5 treatments to see results.
Older patients and those with more extensive facial aging often need more aggressive therapy.
Dangers of at-home or discount microneedling
As mentioned above, the studies that revealed microneedling’s ability to improve a number of skin conditions were done at doctor’s offices or med spas with well-trained personnel using medical-grade equipment. Getting the proper needle length is a key to safe, effective treatment. Needles that are too short don’t reach the lower skin layers required for good results. Needles that are too long can injure the skin. The motion used by rotary devices often sold for home use can cause superficial skin tearing. Injuries to the skin can produces scars. That’s the last thing you want on your face.
Which doctor’s office or med spa you choose for microneedling can make a big difference in your results. For instance, JAMA Dermatology reported that 3 patients developed conspicuous, long-lasting rashes when a vitamin C cream was spread on their faces prior to microneedling. They had no rashes on untreated areas. After weeks of corrective therapy, 2 of the 3 improved. At the publication date the third still had her rash.
Two people developed infections with the same strain of HIV after microneedling sessions at the same New Mexico spa. Manufacturers warn doctors and med spas not to try to clean and reuse microneedles. Apparently, some ignore that warning. Doctors who carefully observe infection protection protocols safeguard their patients. It’s wise to entrust your face and health to them rather than a discount or trendy spa.
Fractional Laser Treatment for deeper lines and wrinkles CONTACT Dr. Machida Inland Empire, CA
If your wrinkles or lines are too deep for microneedling, fractional laser treatment is an excellent choice. Lasers have come a long way from the old ablative CO2 devices, whose good results came at the cost of weeks of discomfort. New fractional lasers vaporize tiny sections of skin, leaving much intact. This produces significantly less discomfort than removing an entire layer.
With newer devices, your physician can change the laser wavelength to suit your individual needs. Fractional lasers increase collagen and elastin, tightening your skin to a greater degree than microneedling. They can soften and even remove fine lines and wrinkles, reduce or eliminate acne scars and other scarring, improve skin texture, lighten brown spots and age spots, balance skin tone and correct stretch marks.
Is laser treatment best for you? A board-certified plastic or facial plastic surgeon or cosmetic dermatologist can advise you. It’s not for everyone. Some facial lines and wrinkles are just too deep. Trying to reach them with laser treatments could cause scarring. In those cases, Renuvion or a facelift would be better options. Please note: Even fractional lasers can cause hyperpigmentation. So, if you have an olive complexion or darker skin, laser treatments probably aren’t for you. If laser is your best option, be prepared for 7-10 days of downtime. After that, you’ll look and feel great.
Renuvion – the Gold Standard for lines and wrinkles that don’t require surgery
As explained in Renuvion / J-Plasma Skin Resurfacing – Best in Treating Acne Scars, Upper Lip Lines and Deep Facial Wrinkles, nothing works better than Renuvion/J-Plasma skin resurfacing for severely damaged skin. Renuvion for the face is a resurfacing procedure. With significantly less discomfort than ablative lasers, it safely removes the top layer of damaged skin, revealing the fresh, attractive skin beneath.
Renuvion significantly increases collagen and elastin production to further tighten skin. That means your look will continue to improve in the weeks after your procedure. It’s the best non-surgical method for softening or completely removing deeper lines, wrinkles and acne scars.
Downtime is the caveat with Renuvion. You’ll have to put up with 2 weeks of redness and peeling, followed by 8 or more weeks of looking pink, like a bad sunburn. If you’re able to, you can make sun damaged, older-looking, less attractive skin smoother, brighter, and more youthful than ever.
What’s the best option for your lines and wrinkles?
If you see lines and wrinkles when you look in the mirror, you’ll want to know your best option to improve them affordably, with the least discomfort. The best (perhaps only) way to find out is to consult with a highly experienced, board-certified plastic or facial plastic surgeon or cosmetic dermatologist. Specialists that offer an array of options are probably in the best position to advise you. All will provide a free private consultation. Some even offer virtual consultations.
If you’re in Inland Empire or eastern metro Los Angeles, California, you can find me at STC Plastic Surgery in Ontario. Together we can determine which method will best improve your lines and wrinkles while fitting into your schedule and budget.