Posts Tagged ‘scars’
Stars like Angelina Jolie and Kim Kardashian are rumored to be fans of Collagen Induction Therapy, also known as micro-needling. Collagen Induction Therapy is a minimally-invasive skin rejuvenation treatment designed to improve the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, scars, and even stretch marks of the face and body by improving collagen production in the skin.
About Collagen in The Skin
Collagen is the main structural protein of the skin, it is produced by a cell in the dermis called fibroblast. Collagen works with elastin and keratin to provide tensile strength, firmness, elasticity, resilience, and skin density. Throughout life the activity of the fibroblast slows and the genes that degrade collagen become more active, as a result collagen levels continuously and progressively decline. Adding insult to injury, the quality of collagen is also degraded and less organized. There are a variety of influences that can further accelerate the decline of collagen, such as genetics, hormones, and sun damage. Collagen begins to decline in our 20’s, and by the time we are in our 40’s, it’s about half of what it was at 18.
Scar tissue is also composed of collagen, but the organization of the collagen is different. In scar tissue, the collagen is aligned in a single direction, instead of a random basket weave formation.
How it Works
Micro-needling delivers tiny needles into the epidermal and dermal layers of the skin creating micro-injuries. These micro-injuries to the skin break up old collagen strands which cause the skin to begin a natural wound healing or renewal process. During the renewal process, skin releases growth factor which triggers fibroblast proliferation, matrix production, followed by the deposition of collagen, elastin, proteoglycans, and GAGs. This tissue remodeling results in an increase of collagen production that is better organized. This collagen induction process can improve lines, wrinkles, scars, and stretch marks. Micro-needling is an exciting anti-aging option to induce collagen, even at an early stage.
The best part is, there is little to no down time, and, with topical anesthetic, it is very comfortable.
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Throughout my career in medical aesthetics, Pseudofolliculitis and ingrown hair has been a common concern. Often times it’s men who mistake the condition for acne, other times it’s someone who has had an infection and a doctor recommended they get laser hair removal. The bad news is, that it can be more serious than you might think. The good news is, it can be treated!
What is Pseudofolliculitis?
Pseudofolliculitis commonly known as “razor bumps” or “ingrown hair” is an inflammatory condition in the skin and hair follicle caused by shaving, waxing and ingrown hairs. Pseudofolliculitis can occur anywhere on the body hair grows, however it most commonly occurs on a mans beard and for women on the bikini and underarm area. It tends to be more common in those with curly or coarse hair.
There are two types of Pseudofolliculitis, extrafollicular and transfollicular. Extrafollicular pseudofolliculitis or “razor bumps” occur when curly hair grows back into a hair follicle. Transfollicular pseudofolliculitis or “ingrown hairs” occur when the hair never leaves the follicle, this can happen if the hair grows at an angle. The hair keratin causes inflammation in the skin, usually seen as pustules that look similar to acne.
Concerns and complications associated with Pseudofolliculitis?
Pseudofolliculitis can be painful, embarrassing but more concerning is that it can lead to scars, secondary infection or become abscessed. You may not think that an ingrown hair is a big deal, but it has been associated with serious secondary infections such as MRSA. When there is damage to the skin, it becomes more susceptible to bacteria such as Staphylococcus. It is not unusual for an ingrown hair to become infected with “staph” or become abscessed. In extreme cases, if left untreated staph can lead to a very serious blood infection known as sepsis. These infections can spread and be contagious. If you suspect an infection, you need to seek immediate medical attention.
Laser hair removal remains the best treatment option for Pseudofolliculitis. A series of treatments will be needed, generally spaced 4-6 weeks apart. Another option is to quit shaving, waxing or tweezing and let the hair grow, but if that doesn’t work for you there are some things you can try. When shaving, start with cleansing the area with an exfoliating cleanser that has glycolic acid or some type of an AHA. I also recommend the Clarisonic cleansing brush, which will help to lift the hair. Before you shave place a steamed towel over the area, being careful not to burn your self. For sanitary reasons, I prefer a new razor. Avoid shaving too close, do not stretch the skin or shave against the direction of growth. If you have pustules, you may also be prescribed a topical antibiotic.
Chemical peels and skin care products that contain chemical exfoliant can help with skin discolorations and help to prevent hair from becoming ingrown. - ” the reducing properties of glycolic acid may reduce sulfhydryl bonds in the hair shaft, resulting in straighter hair growth, and thereby may potentially reduce the chance for re-entry of the hair shaft into the epidermis. Salicylic acid peels offer exfoliation and lightening in cases complicated by PIH. Reduced numbers of PFB lesions have been observed with both glycolic acid and salicylic acid peels.” Expert Rev Dermatol. 2009;4(6):595 Dermatologic Conditions in Men of African Ancestry by Marcelyn K Coley, Andrew F Alexis
Laser hair removal for skin of color, is challenging, but possible. If you have dark skin, be sure to find a laser technician that is also a skin specialist and has experience treating your skin type. Your specialist may recommend preconditioning the area prior to having laser treatment, it is important to comply with all instructions. We make these recommendations to prevent you from getting a burn. They may also suggest doing a test spot first to see how you respond to the laser treatment.
Treating the scars
Pigmented scars are the most common and can be treated consecutively with laser hair removal treatments. Pigmented scars can usually be treated with prescription strength skin care products, and chemical peels. Depressed scars require a deep treatment such as micro-needling, fractional laser resurfacing or dermabrasion. It is best to treat depressed or raised scars when the condition is well controlled. Keloid scars are very complicated and need to be diagnosed and treated by a dermatologist. I want to specify that keloid scars need to be diagnosed by a dermatologist, because raised scars are sometimes confused with keloid scars.
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Cosmetic Laser Warning!
What you need to know before choosing to do a cosmetic procedure.
On one complaint website, there were 1,437 complaints regarding laser treatments and over 600 for one specific laser center. If you decide to go to a laser center based on their social media following or because you are looking for a low cost, you are taking a gamble. Some clinics hire inexperienced, even unqualified technicians to do treatment and rarely have a Doctor on site. A clinic may have a “medical director” on staff whom acts as a medical director for several locations. A med spa with a medical director on staff does not mean it is the medical practice of that person, in fact the medical director may never actually be in the clinic. I have even heard of cases where the “medical directer” was in another state. Med Spas often set sales quota’s for employees, so technicians are pressured to rush treatments. I call this type of practice ” turn em’ & burn em’ “. I don’t blame the technicians, it’s just a poor way to do business. These types of laser centers usually have a very high employee turn over rate and many unhappy customers.
Increasing popularity for Laser, IPL and RF treatments has lead to an increase of treatment complications. A poorly done laser treatment can lead to burns, hyperpigmentation, hypopigmentation, ocular injury, scars and a simple lack of results. Most complications are preventable and all are manageable. The increase in complications is primarily due to lack of training, experience, and medical supervision. It is important to know that it is not just the technology, it is also the technique that determines the result of a treatment. Cosmetic and laser treatments can be complicated and are best done by an experienced technician. Laser and IPL treatments all come with some inherent risk, which you should understand and except before you consent to treatment. Burns and other side effects can result even when treatment is performed by the best and most experienced laser technicians.
With all the new products and technology available today it is easy to be confused, when choosing a treatment. Laser, IPL, LED, Infrared, Radiofrequency and fractional resurfacing are all energy based technologies and each have different indications. A knowledgeable esthetician / laser technician can educate you on energy based treatments in addition to other treatment options. In some cases a chemical peel, Botox, or a cosmetic filler may be a better option than laser. A consultation with an experienced esthetician can help you to make an educated decision on treatment.
It’s easier to stay out of trouble than to get out of trouble.
Patients play an active role in their treatment.
Tanning is a contraindication to most laser and IPL treatments, it is the patients responsibility to use proper protection from UV rays and inform technician of any possible sun exposure. Follow all pre and post treatment instructions, including keeping skin cool. Patients that are noncompliant may be responsible for treatment complications. Anyone with dark skin is at increased risk for complications, and should look for an experienced technician that specialize in treating dark skin.
When choosing to do a cosmetic procedure always look for someone who is experienced with proper training and a successful reputation. Do not base decisions regarding laser treatments, solely on price. A poorly done treatment will cost you more in the long run. Laser clinics should not operate the same as a tanning salon or health club. Laser treatments are serious and should be treated as such.
Are they telling you what you want to hear?
Regardless of the technology, laser hair removal usually requires a minimum of 12 treatments on the face and 8 treatments on non-facial areas. In most cases periodic treatments are needed to maintain results. Laser technicians that tell you that you will only need 5 treatments are not necessarily lying to you intentionally, this is often what they are told by the companies that manufacture lasers. Same applies to claims of safely treating tan skin or effectively treating light hair, although it may be possible don’t count on it.
Questions to ask:
Are you a licensed esthetician and certified laser technician in this state?
Is there a Doctor on location?
How long have you been doing laser treatments?
How long have you worked with this laser or device?
How long have you been in this clinic?
Have you treated my skin type before?
If you have been burned
Most complications are manageable, and can often be completely resolved. Treatment protocol will depend on severity of burn. In some cases the “burns” are not as severe as they look. If it is just superficial redness with speckles of dark, you may even get a nice result. Unfortunately some burns may need medical attention and can lead to scarring. If you have been burned, return to the laser clinic immediately for follow up care. Proper treatment of the skin post treatment can make all the difference.