Non-Surgical Ways to Improve Skin’s Appearance

By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

You have many more options for regaining a youthful appearance to your skin than going under the knife. Area medical spas offer an array of means for improving how your skin looks.

While acknowledging that his office provides “so many options” for non-surgical improvements to the skin, Ramsey Farah, dermatologist with Farah Dermatology & Cosmetics, emphasizes prevention with all patients.

“It’s so much harder to reverse aging from sun damage issues,” he said.

Farah Dermatology operates offices in Syracuse, Watertown, Rome, Fulton, Camillus and North Syracuse. “We have two reasons why our skin ages: intrinsic factors—the genetic programming of cells we can’t do anything about and we also have a lot of sun-induced damage.”

For the latter, he recommends sunscreen and sun avoidance.

“If you can minimize at least this form of aging, you’re one step ahead of the game,” Farah said.

At home, using dermatologist-recommended topicals can help skin look its best. Some are prescriptions and some are over-the-counter products.

“There’s a whole class of retinols and retinoids,” Farah said. “Almost everyone with facial aging issues should be on one of those as part of their regimen. There’s a whole universe of cosmeceuticals. Some offer vitamin C, fruit acids, and the list goes on and on. Focus on the concept of using topical therapy to maintain your skin health.”

Resurfacing methods can include mild and aggressive peels, but Farah prefers lasers because of their precision in reaching the epidermis and dermis. Lasers can improve the evenness of pigmentation and stimulate the production of collagen, which can minimize lines, pore size and wrinkles.

Lifting procedures do not necessitate the use of surgical methods. Farah said that lasers can be used to cause a controlled contracture of the skin’s deeper tissues, which can improve areas that have begun to sag. Another option is thread lifts.

“Threads are dissolvable surgical sutures that are inserted into the skin in various locations,” Farah said. “They can then be pulled up a little bit. Once you put them in, they engage the collagen and connective tissue, and you can pull them up for a non-surgical lift effect.”

While a surgical procedure gives a more dramatic result than lasers and threads, Farah said that lasers are “getting close” to them.

Nancy Samuel, register nurse and managing partner at Sedora Spa in Syracuse, said that microderm abrasion, chemical peels and micro needling are popular techniques her spa offers.

Microderm abrasion uses physical means of removing the top layer of skin and chemical peels use the application of products to do so.

“Anything that causes a breakdown in the skin causes new collagen production,” Samuel said. “At menopause, we’re almost living off of our savings, similar to calcium. At that point the only way to create new collagen is to create new light trauma to the skin.”

Micro needling offers anti-aging results. Also called collagen induction therapy, it uses thin, sterile needles to repeatedly pierce the skin and deliver the patient’s own platelet rich plasma (PRP) deep within the skin. The PRP contains growth factors that help the skin improve in appearance. Micro needling causes tiny injuries to the skin to stimulate production of collagen to improve skin’s appearance.

“Micro needling goes even deeper than peels or abrasion,” Samuel said. “It has to do with affecting different levels of trauma to create different levels of stimulation.”

Injectable approaches include Botox and fillers. Botox is effective for the upper half of the face and works by relaxing the muscles so they do not contract. That provides the effect of minimizing the appearance of lines. Used with filler, the patient can have a smoother, less lined appearance afterwards. Filler can also help in areas of the face that have lost volume over time, such as the lips.

How long the procedures last varies based on the individual’s appearance, lifestyle habits like smoking diet and hydration, and the procedures themselves.
Laser treatments can cause a couple of days’ downtime, but provide results that last for months.

The effects of chemical peels can last for a few weeks and may cause redness that lasts a day. Microderm abrasion has no downtime and its effect lasts for about a week, making it a good choice before a special event.

It takes a few weeks to see the effects of micro needling. Its effects can last for as long as a year, which has helped make the treatment popular.

Botox’s line-smoothing effects last about four months. Fillers last for three months to a year. Threads can last nine months to two years.

Both Farah and Samuel encourage people interested in anti-aging techniques to seek an experienced practitioner who is either trained in medicine or is supervised by someone with medical training.