By Dr. Amelia K. Hausauer and Dr. Kamakshi R. Zeidler
Like our bodies, our skin matures over time. While genes play a key role in achieving that impeccable complexion, how exactly the skin ages depends on several lifestyle factors, namely sun exposure, smoking, diet, and poor skin care habits. Transitioning into the colder months of fall and winter can also wreak havoc on your skin. For example, there’s whipping wind, icey temperatures, and dehydration from indoor heating that removes moisture in the air. Just as we change wardrobes, skincare regimens must change. This is also the optimal time for procedures that require hiding from the sun. Turtlenecks and scarves can hide signs of recent treatments, and there is no better protection than full coverage.
Preserving skin health and achieving radiance requires a superior level of care. At Aesthetx, we believe that a multi-pronged approach involving diligent skin care at home as well as strategic treatments in the office is the best way to maximize skin luminosity, particularly in the winter months. Of course, we cannot stress the importance of a customized, personalized plan to address your major concerns and ensure enduring, balanced results.
Prevention is better than correction
The key to healthy and youthful skin is taking preventive measures. Sun protection is the single most impactful step you can take to protect and prevent. This is true even in the winter, when it’s snowing or the sky is cloudy. We highly recommend a high SPF, mineral-based sunscreen every day, irrespective of weather and activities, in addition to carrying a powdered sunscreen to touch-up every couple hours. This is just one step in a proactive routine. Antioxidants – vitamin C being the most common but there are other effective ones as well – help protect against free radical damage to the skin and essentially boost your ultraviolet protection. These steps are critical especially on the ski slopes or other high altitude locations where the ozone layer provides less protection and sunlight can reflect off white snow giving your skin a huge dose of damaging radiation.
Indoor heating quickly sucks moisture out of the environment. Despite the wet weather outside, it can be quite dry indoors. However, moisture is key to glowing skin, and without it, fine lines and crepey texture become far more apparent. Some steps to boost your hydration regimen are:
- Use a humidifier or place a open bowl of water on your radiator. This helps restore moisture to the environment and keep your skin soft and supple.
- Minimize long, hot showers. We recommend no longer than a 10 (ideally 5) minute shower with luke to medium warm water.
- Following your shower towel dry and while the skin is still damp apply moisturizer so it locks in that last layer of water on your skin.
There are now multiple ingredients that help retain moisture in and on the skin. Most are naturally made by our bodies to help keep skin plump and soft. Some favorites are ceramides, hyaluronic acid and squalene. Many of these ingredients are available in inexpensive but effective creams and ointments. These are the greasier sisters to lotion that contain far less water and higher oil or moisturizing contents. Formulation (and consistency) is critical when we are talking about hydration. In recent years, you may have heard about ceramides (think key components in Cerave or Cetaphil creams) and hyaluronic acid, but the newest spotlight ingredient in the moisture game is squalene, a lipid naturally produced to lubricate and protect our skin. Squalene is unstable and degrades quickly. In the past, it was sourced from murine animals like shark liver and caused species to be hunted to near extinction. Now, we can source squalene and its more stable version squalane from plant sources. In fact, Bioassence (an innovative company located in the Bay Area near Aesthetx) started using sqaulene to treat malaria and now develops highly hydrating sustainable and clean (free of harmful chemicals to your skin) products. Other star ingredients to watch for are omega fatty acids that mimic our normal skin lipids, B vitamins.
Treat spider veins
Varicose and spider veins can be unsightly and prevent you from wearing skirts or shorts in the warmer months to come. For smaller blood vessels on the legs, treatment can be as simple as one or more sessions of sclerotherapy, an injection procedure that causes irritation then reabsorption of unnecessary but bothersome veins. This treatment does require some planning and leg work so to speak. It is important to wear compression stockings around the clock for 1 week to ensure better efficacy. This combined with the potential for hyperpigmentation makes winter the perfect time for sclerotherapy treatment.
Opt for strategic, customized laser and light therapies
Time off from work, protection from the elements, lower levels of ambient ultraviolet radiation can make winter the optimal time for complexion-boosting procedures like laser therapy or chemical peels. Everyone has their own concerns, so these procedures provide a customized way to create luminosity and glow. For instance, many people noticed increased redness and flushing in the winter months. At Aesthetx, we love the Vbeam laser to target tiny blood vessels. VBeam can also be used for spider veins around the nose (termed telangiectasia) that may increase after blowing your nose with that December cold or flu. We also recommend a variety of treatments to reverse the signs of summer and even out overall skin texture. Some of our favorites are:
- Intense pulse light therapy (IPL) aka broadband light (BBL) or photofacials: IPL/BBL uses a light device to successfully minimize sunspots and restore that even canvas. This is especially effective on on the chest where we often forget sunscreen and neglect to address those tiny blood vessels and brown regions. Winter months are a perfect time for this treatment as it can be covered with a chic sweater and you can still look season appropriate.
- Laser resurfacing: these treatments use of energy from heat and light to create controlled, deliberate injury of the skin. Healing stimulates our bodies to create excess collagen, elastic fibres, hyaluronic acid and other essential molecules. After our 20s, the synthesis of these skin building blocks declines, so treatments that effectively boost production can help restore bounce, soften wrinkles and scars, and erase photodamage. In our office, the HaloPro is a the single most popular laser. It’s one of the best ways to improve firmness and minimize pore size so less makeup and fewer social media filters are needed.
Preparing for winter can be daunting and involves multiple steps. When in doubt, seek the guidance of an expert dermatologist or provider to help tailor a plan that fits your skin and its needs. Summer skin and bodies are made in winter. Find time to invest in yourself post New Years will pay off down the line when the sun shines again.
Dr. Kamakshi Zeidler
Board certified and fellowship trained, Dr. Kamakshi Zeidler is a thought leader in the field of plastic surgery and co-founder of Aesthetx. As an expert in aesthetic and reconstructive breast surgery, she is an active author, lecturer, and clinical investigator for multiple research trials including those that bring new breast implants to market from companies such as Allergan, Sientra, AirXpanders and most recently Motiva. She is a contributor to a couple of upcoming textbooks detailing her unique procedure for breast lift. Dr. Zeidler is committed to innovation and routinely partners with companies to bring new technologies to the market, serving as a strategic medical advisor to the CEOs and executive teams of a variety of the plastic surgery industry leaders. She also serves on the board of directors of Cancer CAREpoint, Silicon Valley’s nonprofit providing resources to those suffering from breast as well as other types of cancer. Dr. Zeidler’s exquisite plastic surgery outcomes have earned her renown not only in the heart of Silicon Valley but also around the world. Her vision of an aesthetic medical practice combining the best of plastic surgery and dermatology with the latest proven technologies is leading a new trend in the aesthetic industry and has positioned Aesthetx to be the destination for the most discerning patients.
Dr. Amelia K. Hausauer
A visionary in the field of minimally invasive aesthetics, Dr. Amelia K. Hausauer is the Director of Dermatology of Aesthetx. She is an innovator and rising star in the world of platelet rich plasma (PRP) — a component of the blood rich in growth factor– and microneedling, spearheading several research trials, serving as chief editor and major contributing author for upcoming textbook, in addition to lecturing and training other healthcare providers on these topics. Moreover, Dr. Hausauer is an expert advisor on laser and injectable therapies. She has served as an investigator on trials for Allergan, Merz Aesthetics, Revance Therapeutics, ThermiGen LLC, Eclipse Aesthetics LLC, and Sciton Inc; written multiple pupublications on neuromodulators (i.e. Botox® cosmetic), dermal fillers, and other aesthetic skin procedures; is a frequent reviewer for the medical journal Dermatologic Surgery; and was selected to participate in the prestigious American Society of Dermatologic Surgery (ASDS) Future Leaders Network, intended to groom leadership in the field of procedural dermatology.