When your skin is protected by clothing and the sun’s rays are not as strong, winter might be the best time to treat your skin to a cosmetic procedure. Dr. Savola talks about the best skin treatments to get now so your skin will look its best by spring.
What it does: Treats acne scarring, fine lines, hyperpigmentation, and reduction of melasma/sun spots.
Why do it in the winter: Fraxel used for scars/wrinkles usually results in an average of 3 days of redness and swelling, while Fraxel used for pigmentation results in rough darkened skin that peels off in an average of 5-7 days. “It is especially important for those treating melasma or sun spots to do this in the winter so they don’t reoccur,” says Dr. Savola. “Sun exposure, even in the smallest doses can cause the pigment to come back.” The minor inflammation caused by the laser can also cause sensitivity to sunlight and risk of sunburn and pigmentary changes. Also, summer heat can slow or impair healing, so it is best to do this procedure when the sun’s rays are not as strong.
Treatment: Intense Pulsed Light (IPL)
What it does: IPL is great for treating blood vessels, background redness/rosacea, acne and sun damage on the face, neck, chest and hands. It can also be used for hair removal. Treatments typically are done every 3-4 weeks for an average of 4-6 treatments. Though there is little downtime, sun protection is crucial to proper healing. IPL is not ideal for darker skin types.
Why do it in the winter: IPL can be done any time of year, but it is ideal in the winter because most people spend less time outdoors. Sunlight can lead to possible darkening of treated spots if sun avoidance isn’t practiced and rosacea is usually worsened by sun exposure.
Treatment: Photodynamic Therapy or Blue Light Therapy
What it does: This treatment improves the cosmetic appearance of sun damaged skin while also killing any pre-cancerous cells. A medication is applied to the entire face and soaks in for around an hour. Dr. Savola explains why: “The soaking allows any sun damaged skin and pre-cancerous cells to absorb the medicine, while the normal cells do not. We then use light to activate the medicine which kills the visibly damaged cells and microscopic pre-cancers.”
Why do it in the winter: Patients need to strictly avoid the sun since traces of the photosensitizer medication remain on the face for several days.
Treatment: Chemical Peels
What it does: Peels can be used for evening skin tone, acne, sun damage, and resurfacing. There are different depths ranging from superficial which just target the outermost layer of the skin, to deep which targets the lower portion, the dermis.
Why do it in the winter: Superficial peels can be done any time of year, but in general all peels are best saved for the winter, especially for darker skin types. “Many peeling solutions make you more sensitive to sun burn and can cause darkening on areas that are not protected,” explains Dr. Savola.
Laser Hair Removal
What it does: Laser hair removal targets pigment in the hair follicle to reduce or eliminate regrowth of the hair. Treatments typically are done every 4-8 weeks for an average of 4-6 treatments. The hair tends to grow back thinner and slower with each treatment so intervals may increase.
Why do it in the winter: “It is best done on untanned skin to reduce the risk of pigmentation after the treatment and increase the contrast between the hair follicle and normal skin,” says Dr. Savola. “Though there is little downtime, sun protection is crucial to proper healing.”
Treatment: Sclerotherapy and Laser Vein Removal
What it does: Tiny veins on the legs can be treated with laser therapy, however larger ones may require an injection to help seal off unsightly veins, which is known as sclerotherapy. Repeat treatment may be necessary to completely destroy the vein.
Why do it in the winter: “Unfortunately it is very common to have hyperpigmentation that may last a few weeks after treatment of a vein so it is best done when legs are not exposed as much,” advises Dr. Savola. “Also, it is recommended to wear compression stockings after treatment which is not ideal in the hot summer.”
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