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Hema Sundaram, MA, MD, FAAD
Six Strategies For Skin and Hair Health – For This Fall and Beyond
Sundaram Dermatology, Cosmetic & Laser Surgery Center
. http://doctorhema.com

Six Strategies For Skin and Hair Health – For This Fall and Beyond

The change of seasons has brought new daily routines, and also new skin and hair needs. This is a good time of year to take stock of our health, and perhaps even to make a few changes. The holiday season is now just weeks away and, even though it may be different this year, there will still be social occasions as we reconnect with our loved ones and experience the festive spirit.

Here are six simple strategies to help you look and feel your best for fall, the holidays and beyond.

1. Get a Skin Check

Skin cancer is now the most common cancer in the United States, and one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. The key to avoiding serious problems is early detection and treatment. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends annual full-body skin examinations by a board certified dermatologist. More frequent examinations are often appropriate if you have a personal history of skin cancers or pre-cancers, or family members who have had skin cancer. Your dermatologist can also show you how to perform regular skin self-exams at home in between your regular office visits.

2. Keep Up the Sun Protection

Did you know that you can get sunburned even on a cloudy or rainy day – and that the risk is even higher when there’s snow? Protecting your skin year-round from the sun’s damaging rays – even as the days get shorter and temperatures drop – will help prevent skin cancers and pre-cancers, and also sun spots and premature skin aging. Your first line of defense against the sun is clothing. For areas that aren’t protected by clothing – including your ears and the back of your neck if you have short hair – a broad spectrum sunscreen with SPF of 30 or above can be applied daily, with re-applications every two hours or so while you’re outdoors. Our hands need extra sun protection every time we drive, as some components of the sun’s damaging UV rays can pass through glass.

These days, there are sunscreen options to suit everyone, including natural mineral sunscreens, brush-on sunscreen powders that leave no sticky or greasy residue on your skin, and sunscreens with added skin repair ingredients such as antioxidants.

3. Beauty Beyond the Mask

A new skin condition that emerged this year is mask-ne – acne or other skin breakouts due to prolonged mask-wearing. This is due to the trapping of skin perspiration, breath droplets, skin oils, and make-up if you wear it, beneath your mask. To avoid mask-ne, change masks at least once a day, and wash reusable masks daily. Hanging up your mask in the sunlight to dry exposes it to UV light, which can help to kill bacteria. Avoid wearing make-up under your mask. If the problem persists, a board certified dermatologist can examine your skin and recommend a skin care regimen including prescription creams or gels. Severe mask-ne may also require medication by mouth. In-office procedures such as chemical peels with natural fruit acids, or Dermasweep MD with customized infusions to cleanse, exfoliate and unblock clogged pores may also help, with the added benefit of improving pigmentation and fine lines and restoring skin radiance.

Another effect of mask-wearing is increased focus on the eyes. Rather than paying a lot for eye creams with fancy packaging and an expensive advertising campaign, it’s a better investment to look for proven science. A board certified dermatologist can make evidence-based recommendations for eye creams and a complete skin care regimen, based on whether your concerns have a medical or cosmetic cause.

To achieve the best cosmetic results, your doctor needs to know how to analyze your whole face in 3D and have a deep understanding of facial anatomy. An advanced cosmetic approach combines highly-skilled procedures that are individualized for your own skin type and concerns such as wrinkles, under-eye circles, bumpy skin or sagging. Treatments can include Ultherapy, which is FDA approved for nonsurgical brow and face lifting; delicate doses of Botox to relax crow’ feet and forehead wrinkles, shape your brows and widen droopy eyes; and natural hyaluronic acid fillers like Restylane and Juvederm. With expert, European-style techniques, there are no scars, little or no down time, and a completely natural-looking result with no “frozen” appearance. Your skin can be stimulated to form new collagen and elastic tissue, taking decades off your face.

4. Zoom Aesthetics

Now that work meetings, interviews and social gatherings have gone virtual, there is an increasing focus on jawlines. Webcams add about ten pounds under the chin, and they also make necks look more wrinkly. A double chin is often hereditary and worsens with age. Raising your laptop or applying contour makeup may help a little, but many men and women are looking for more effective, longer-lasting solutions to maintain their professional and personal edge and project youth and vitality.

Liposuction can be performed well and safely under local anesthetic, to permanently remove unwanted jowl and under-chin fat. Ultherapy – or Exilis Ultra, a unique, painless laser that combines radiofrequency and ultrasound energies – can melt pockets of fat and tighten loose skin on your face and neck, as well as the abdomen, waist, hips, buttocks, arms and other areas with no recovery time. Rigorous scientific studies have shown how these technologies target and destroy unwanted fat cells and stimulate new collagen and elastic tissue. Kybella is a new injectable treatment for double chin (submental fullness) that is now offered by a select group of experts in the U.S.

Although it may seem strange to add fat in this situation, re-contouring a weak chin or shrinking jawline with injections of your own natural fat or with fillers can also work wonders for a double chin. The stem cells in the fat have a regenerative effect and make your skin noticeably firmer and more glowing.

Perhaps because webcams can also highlight unwanted hair, there has also been an increase in those seeking hair laser treatment, especially now the holidays are approaching. The advantage of seeing a board certified dermatologist is that you can also be examined medically to identify any underlying causes of excess hair. Whether there is a medical condition such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) or not, the state-of-the-art Gentle YAG laser, can safely and quickly remove hair of all colors from all skin types. Treatment is painless and there is no need even for numbing cream.

5. Hair Restoration

While almost everyone loses some hair as the years go by, stress-related hair loss has become much more common over the past 6-8 months. It can be devastating to notice clumps of hair on your pillow, in the shower or on your clothes. This is because stress tends to push more of your hairs out of their active growth phase and prematurely into a shedding phase. A board certified dermatologist can perform a comprehensive medical exam, check blood tests and, if appropriate, take a small sample of your scalp skin for microscopic analysis to investigate the cause of your hair loss. If it’s stress-related shedding, medical-grade supplements may help. A growing body of scientific studies and peer-reviewed publications support the use of platelet rich plasma (PRP) for no-downtime hair restoration. PRP is prepared by concentrating platelets and natural growth factors from a small sample of your own blood. This is then injected carefully and gently into your scalp. A series of sessions is typically needed to see maximal hair regrowth, and maintenance treatment may be required until the source of stress has passed.

6. Feminine (Vaginal) Rejuvenation

In the past, women have sometimes been embarrassed to discuss changes that occur as they go through childbearing, hormonal changes and aging. These include vaginal laxity, stress urinary incontinence (e.g. when coughing or sneezing), and vaginal dryness. There is more emphasis now on addressing these issues as women have every expectation that the second half of their lives will be as enjoyable and productive as the first.

The first step should always be to have a gynecological examination. If there are no underlying health problems, a growing number of rapid, hormone-free non-surgical options are available. The CO2RE Intima laser is the gold standard treatment to remodel the tissue of the vagina and vulva by stimulating the formation of new collagen. Patients often report a significant improvement in quality of life, such as being able to lift their children or grandchildren again without worrying about urinary leakage. Fillers can be injected gently and precisely to correct volume loss and improve the external appearance of the vaginal lips or vulva.

The right reason to have a cosmetic procedure is to rebalance how you look with how you feel – to regain self-esteem and a sense of well-being. In this time of increased safety awareness, it makes sense to trust your face and body to a doctor who is board certified in a specialty recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties as having the correct qualifications to perform cosmetic procedures. These “core four” specialties are dermatology, plastic surgery, oculoplastic surgery and facial plastic surgery. A board certified dermatologist can also offer you medical treatment where appropriate, as part of your master plan for healthy skin and hair.

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