Skin-saving facials: four new medically based treatments to combat summer sun damage

Skin-saving facials: four new medically based treatments to combat summer sun damage – Beauty in Action

Abbie Kozolchyk

The newest facials not only pamper, but also effectively fight signs of sun damage (think: blotchiness, rough patches and fine lines). They’re so effective, you can find them only at dermatologists’ offices and medi-spas (day spas overseen by dermatologists and/or plastic surgeons). So no matter what kind of havoc summer wreaked on your skin, there’s a high-tech facial to help reverse the damage.

The damage Rough, weathered skin that lacks radiance

The facial VibraDerm

First there was dermabrasion, the dermatologist-administered technique that sloughed skin with a wire brush and left the treated area red and raw for weeks. Then there was microder-mabrasion, the milder procedure that utilized tiny sand or aluminium particles to exfoliate dead skin cells with little or no redness. Now there’s VibraDerm, a procedure in which a mildly abrasive stainless-steel padde vibrates on the skin at various settings to rapidly slough off sun-damaged skin. While the treatment sounds painful, “it’s better tolerated than microdermabrasion,” explains Roy Geronemus, M.D.. director of the Laser & Skin Surgery Center of New York, who recently completed a six-month test of the new technique on about 20 patients. It’s so well tolerated, in fact, that Geronemus noted no patient complaints and saw only minimal post-treatment redness. And, given the relatively large surface area of the paddle (it measures about 2 inches in diameter), you can now treat more skin in less time (15 minutes compared to th e 30-minute microdermabrasion procedure), says dermatologist Brian Zelickson, M.D., who oversees the Abbott Northwestern Hospital Cosmetic Care Center in Minneapolis.

The cost About $125 for one treatment; five treatments are recommended. For doctors in your area who offer the treatment. visit

The damage Broken blood vessels, fine lines and suntriggered freckles

The facial Intense Pulsed Light treatment (aka IPL, Photo Rejuvenation. Photo Facial, FotoLite)

“IPL is one of the hottest facials going today” says dermatologist Laurie Polls, M.D., founder of SoHo Skin and Laser Center and the adjacent Mezzanine Spa in New York City. “The light emitted by the laserlike device is selectively absorbed by dilated blood vessels and brown spots.” (The sensation is commonly compared to a repeated flicking of a rubber band across the skin.) The result? A decrease in sun-induced brown spots and red blotchiness as well as rosacea. The light may also stimulate cells to produce collagen–the reason derma tologists like Polls theorize that IPL helps smooth wrinkles and plump the skin.

The cost $300-$500 per treatment; a series of four to six treatments is recommended. For doctors in your area that offer the treatment, visit

The damage Extensive sun exposure (hyperpigmentation and deep wrinkles)

The facial The Anti-Aging Facial While cancer prevention and pampering don’t often appear in the same sentence, they’re starting to be combined in the same treatments. Bruce Katz, M.D., of the Juva MediSpa in New York City, created the Anti-Aging Facial, which uses a topical drug called 5-Fluorouracil (5-FU). When applied to the skin, it’s absorbed by precancerous cells, disrupting their growth. Katz believes that eradicating these cells may help reduce the likelihood of developing skin cancer later in life. (Potential side effects of 5FU include dryness, mild redness and sun sensitivity.) While any dermatologist can prescribe the topical agent for those with precancerous cells or lesions, Katz adds that the facial offers additional benefits: It helps to even, out your complexion, increase its radiance and soothe skin–thanks to the ant oxidants vitamin C and green tea used in the facial.

The cost $125 for 70 minutes; Katz recommends six to eight twice-monthly treatments. Call (212) 421-9501 or visit for more information.

The damage Precancerous lesions

The facial Photodynamic therapy While not a pampering facial, photodynamic therapy has become an increasingly popular procedure for treating precancerous lesions. Before the 15- to 20-minute procedure, a topical compound called ALA (aminolevulinic acid) is applied to – and absorbed by – the lesion. Fourteen to 24 hours later, the area is exposed to a blue light, which helps destroy the treated lesions, Zelickson explains. You may feel some stinging or burning during the procedure and have a scab for a few days afterward. It’s also important to protect the area from further sunlight since this treatment makes the skin sun sensitive.

The cost $125-$300; one to two treatments are typically required to remove the lesion. For more information, call the American cancer Society at (800) ACS-2345 or visit

RELATED ARTICLE: do-it-yourself damage control

If money or time prevent you from getting an in-office treatment, consider one of these less-powerful at-home alternatives. While still effective, these products could take about twice or three times as long as high-tech facials to yield results.


Opt for products that contain skin-lightening ingredients like retinol, vitamin C and licorice. Some of our favorite products include H20+ Waterwhite Brightening (and lightening) line ($22.50-$45;, Neutrogena Visibly Even Moisturizer with retinol and vitamin C($14; at drugstores), Shiseido UV White Intensive Whitening Treatment with vitamin C and herbal extracts ($55; at Nordstrom stores) and Murad Age Spot and Pigment Lightening Gel with licorice, grapeseed extract and glycolic acid ($48; murad.corn).


Look for products that contain superficial sloughing ingredients (to get rid of dry, dead skin) such as alpha and beta hydroxy acids: We like M.D. Skincare Alpha Beta Peel Home Facial System ($65;, Joey New York Double Stuff Microdermabrasion Face Peel with skin-sloughing enzymes ($40;, Therapy Systems Self Adjusting Facial Peel Kit with glycolic acid ($95; 733-8606), Prescriptives Super Line Preventor+ ($47.50, gloss, com) and Elizabeth Arden Peel & Reveal Revitalizing Treatment with hydroxy acids and fruit and grapeseed extracts ($30; at department stores).


Home microdermabrasion kits can perk up your skin in no time. Try DermaNew Personal Microdermabrasion System ($130; Or opt for less-expensive facial scrubs, exfoliating cleansers and serums like Origins Never a Dull Moment Skin-brightening Face Cleanser with fruit enzymes ($16.50;,MD Formulations Face & Body Scrub with glycolic acid ($35; or Estee Lauder WhiteLight Concentrated Brightening Serum

(%65:–Valerie Latona

Perfect your skin with products by Neutrogena, Elizabeth Arden, Murad, Origins and Joey New York.

think your skin is in good shape?

How your skin appears when you look in the mirror is only one part of the equation. If you’ve been exposed unprotected to sunlight, some damage has been done to your skin. In these photos, the conventional photo shows what a woman’s skin looks like to the naked eye. The ultraviolet (UV) photo shows the true extent of damage to her skin. (All the dark spots indicate hyper pigmentation marks, where sun has penetrated the skin.) For more information on where you can have UV photos taken, go to

improve your skin … FOR FREE! (Shape giveaway)

We’re giving away 500 bottles of H2O+ Waterwhite Brightening Essence (a $45 value)! Log on to shape.corn/h2oplus beginning July 22 for your chance to win this oil-free skin-brightening serum. It contains vitamin C and marine algae to help protect your skin from environmental damage like sun exposure and pollution, improve its texture and moisture balance and brighten your complexion. Log on, and good luck!

anti-aging favorites: Looking to achieve the most youthful-looking skin possible?

You may want to think about mixing the newest facials with other anti-aging therapies like the ones listed below. It’s a combination of treatments that often yields the best results, says Beverly Hills dermatologist Harold Lancer, M.D.

* Nonablative lasers Wrinkles and hyperpigmentation can get zapped by these lasers (which include the NLite, Smoothbeam and CoolTouch). The energy emitted heats the underlying layers of skin without harming the top layer so you get little post-laser redness. This treatment costs $700-$2,000, and two to four monthly or bimonthly treatments are typically required.

* Hydroquinone The prescription-strength version of this powerful topical bleaching agent helps fade hyperpigmentation when used in conjunction with other anti-aging treatments like microdermabrasion or vibraDerm. Along with glycolic acid, hydroquinone is found in creams like Alustra (800-550-5115) and Glyquin (, about $75 each. But if you have sensitive skin, limit use of this, as it can cause skin irritation when used long term.

* Botox and Myobloc Both substances temporarily paralyze facial muscles, making it impossible to form wrinkle-causing facial expressions — why dermatologists often use one or the other in conjunction with nonablative lasers or anti-aging treatments to help prolong the wrinkle-smoothing effects. The cost: about $400 per area; results typically last four to six months.

Beth Janes

Abbie Kozolchyk is a frequent beauty contributor to Shape and Fit Pregnancy.

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