Published: April 17, 2013
Category: Blog, Fraxel, Laser Treatments, Skin Care

We all want smooth skin, but can we achieve it? Fortunately there are a lot of things we can do for this. With a combination of skincare products, medical peels and lasers working both at the cellular level and tissue level, smoother skin is definitely achievable.

The first thing to consider in achieving smoother skin is simple exfoliation. Most of us know that new skin cells are produced deep in the epidermis and as they migrate up to the surface of the skin they mature, eventually forming a protective layer of dead skin called the stratum corneum. These cells will then be released as they are replaced by cells from below. This process of releasing the “tired” stratum corneum is exfoliation. This process is often imperfect, especially in a dry environment, which can leave the skin dull and feeling slightly rough to the touch. There are several things to help with exfoliation that can be done at home. The primary aid to exfoliation is to moisturize. If there is not enough moisture, the process of breaking the bonds between the skin cells will not occur and the stratum corneum builds up. That flaky dry look is actually the thickened, tired stratum corneum. The answer: moisturize, moisturize, moisturize! All moisturizers will help, but I highly recommend glycolic acid to help break the bonds between cells. Finally, we can mechanically remove the top layers with abrasive scrubs.

There are two major medical procedures that can also be done to help exfoliate. The first is microdermabrasion, with or without hydrofusion. With microdermabrasion, we are basically “sanding” down the skin and mechanically removing unwanted cells to reveal smoother and brighter skin. The second medical procedure to help with exfoliation is chemical peels. With peels we are applying agents that help break the bonds between the tired skin cells. There are a variety of peeling agents available so talk with one of our staff members to help decide what peel is right for you. They will consider your skin type, down time, and secondary skin issue.

The second thing to consider in achieving smoother skin is collagen production. The basic problem is that after the age of 30 we start to experience a net loss of collagen in the skin. As a result, the cellular structure of the skin is compromised. The skin starts to look dull, loose its elasticity, pores become more noticeable, and fine lines start to appear. Anything we can do to help prevent the breakdown of collagen and to stimulate the production of new collagen is good. In fact, when it comes to collagen stimulation, more is better. To my knowledge I have never seen too much! All of the things we talk about here should be done in combination (as long as you skin can tolerate it). Like exfoliation, there are things you can do at home to help collagen production as well as medical treatments that are done in the office.

The at-home treatments start with prevention of collagen breakdown. Avoid the sun by using sunscreens and hats. Don’t smoke. Now to stimulate collagen, we recommend the “Big 3”- Glycolic Acid, Retinol (or RetinA) and topical Vitamin C. All of these treatments should be part of your daily skin care routine.

In the office there are esthetic services. Microdermabrasions and chemical peels, in addition to their exfoliating abilities, also help with collagen stimulation. However, the “big guns” of collagen stimulation are the lasers. Collagen-stimulating lasers all work by turning on the natural repair functions in the skin. Specifically, collagen is stimulated by heating up the cells called fibroblasts. The fibroblasts respond by making more collagen and other structural proteins. As the collagen is produced the skin reorganizes itself in a healthier and more youthful pattern, and the skin thickens. What you see is a healthier glow to the skin, pores and fine lines are minimized and the skin feels tighter and smoother. We have 3 lasers that stimulate collagen in our office. The most gentle is the Genesis laser, next is the Pearl laser and, finally, the Fraxel Restore laser which penetrates the whole depth of skin. For the most aggressive treatment, we combine the Fraxel and Pearl lasers together. Just like the peels mentioned above, what laser or combination is right for you varies based upon your skin type, your tolerance for down time, budgets and secondary skin issues.

If you are genetically blessed, smooth skin is natural, but for the rest of us, smooth skin is achieved and maintained with a comprehensive skin care program. Please stop by and talk with any of our staff to set up a plan that works best for you and your needs.