Skin is the largest organ in the body and has considerable influence on our well being both from a medical as well as psychological standpoint. The good news is that it is now well within reach of anyone to improve the health and appearance of their skin. And a comprehensive skin care program will address not just the outer look of the skin but inner health as well.
Consider skin protection, products and procedures, laser and light therapies all as part of skin care, and skin care as part of your overall health routine.
Treating the Inside
One of the most successful things that will improve the health and look of the skin is to address internal factors such as hormones, inflammation, toxins, blood flow, lymph drainage, and cellular energy.
Hormones exert a powerful influence on skin. At menopause many women note the skin becoming dry and pale with less softness and radiance. Estrogen stimulates the hydration and elasticity of skin, while testosterone increases collagen and oil production. Low thyroid may cause dry, lifeless and puffy appearing skin. High cortisol, caused by stress or inflammation, may cause acne and thin, overly oily skin.
Many patients consult with me for acne treatment thinking the cause might be hormone imbalance, and sometimes that is the case, but most of the time underlying inflammation is the main culprit. Coming from impaired gut health, infections, or immune response to environmental toxins, inflammation will wreak havoc throughout the body, and sometimes acne is part of the syndrome. Skin rashes are another area where the skin is actually just the “tip of the iceberg” symptom along with some underlying health condition.
With aging there is a normal decline in fundamental systems that help keep skin vibrant. Decreased blood flow to the skin leads to less nutrient delivery, while impaired cellular energy leads to less skin turnover or the normal shedding and rebuilding of the layers of the skin. Clogged lymphatic drainage will cause puffiness and build up of toxins.
Treating the Outside
Protecting the skin from the damage of the sun is arguably the most important thing one can do to maintain good skin health. The ultra-violet type B (UVB) rays cause the notable sunburn, while UVA especially leads to deeper damage, skin cancer and aging appearance. UVB is mostly a concern during summer months and peak daylight hours, while UVA is harmful year-round, all day long, even penetrating through glass. Avoid excess sun and use a sunscreen with zinc or titanium to truly block both UVA and UVB rays. I do not recommend the chemical sunscreens as they are toxic and less effective.
Skin products can be friend or foe to skin health. Many are chocked full of toxic chemicals that harm the skin and internal organs. Most do nothing to really promote skin health. Do your research and look for “products to avoid” when it comes to skin health. A certified esthetician should be able to list these toxic skin care products and guide you to various products that are proven to actually help skin health. Consider products that add moisture, increase the elasticity and thickness, increase normal skin cell turnover, and blood flow. There are also ingredients that reduce DNA damage and increase the cellular energy of skin cells making them more resistant to aging.
Procedures such as facials, microdermabrasion, and peels, are designed to help pull off old outer unhealthy layers of skin, infuse products into the deeper layers, and stimulate the factors that lead to healthier skin. These easy, inexpensive treatments should be done at least monthly and considered a basic, essential part of overall skin care.
Microneedling or Collagen Induction Therapy (CIT) is a treatment to improve your skin texture, smooth wrinkles, fine lines and soften scars. It is suitable for all skin types and all areas of the face, neck, décolletage and hands. Microneedling is based on the use of tiny needles to create micro channels (tiny holes) in the skin. The process stimulates your skin’s natural ability to heal itself and in the process produces collagen and elastin. Micro needling is performed with a surgical grade instrument with stainless steel micro needles ranging from 0.5mm to 1.5mm in length. Scaring is treated with needles up to 2mm. The small channels in the epidermis close very quickly and you may see only redness or experience some pinpoint bleeding which stops almost immediately. This healing process begins almost immediately and results in a thicker dermis and softened wrinkles or scars.
Laser treatments work to increase the health of skin by causing a thermal “injury” that is repaired by the body’s normal healing mechanisms. Laser energy is absorbed into the prescribed area of the skin where it then turns to heat and releases the energy into the tissue. Lasers can be used to treat the surface of skin to target fine lines, broken blood vessels, dark pigment spots, and large surface pores. Deeper laser treatments will stimulate new elastin and collagen formation leading to skin tightening and improvements in texture and tone of skin.
If you are interested in skin health and appearance but are not sure where to start or who to trust then I recommend seeking guidance from a skin care professional. Work with estheticians and laser specialists that know more than just the latest marketing hype while trying to sell you the newest product. Ask about the science of skin and about the internal factors that play a role in skin health. Our aestheticians offer a free consultation so you can learn what skin program is right for you!
Scott Rollins, MD, is Board Certified with the American Board of Family Practice and the American Board of Anti-Aging and Regenerative Medicine. He specializes in bioidentical hormone replacement for men and women, thyroid and adrenal disorders, fibromyalgia and other complex medical conditions. He is founder and medical director of the Integrative Medicine Center of Western Colorado (www.imcwc.com) and Bellezza Laser Aesthetics (www.bellezzalaser.com). Call (970) 245-6911 for an appointment or more information.