Created on 10th July 2009
Jenny Pitt reports on the latest ways to rejuvenate and protect your skin
The bright summer sun can often put the spotlight on the appearance of your skin, especially if you've overindulged in sun worshipping in previous years. But panic not. There are a range of treatments available that can resurface, refresh and rejuvenate your skin.
If you want to enhance your skin's texture, pigmentation or fine lines, then consider microdermabrasion. It works by streaming fine crystals across your skin. "Microdermabrasion is good where the skin problems are superficial, known as ‘epidermal'. For example, sun damage and uneven texture, where the pathology is superficial," explains Dr Susan Mayou, consultant dermatologist at London's Cadogan Clinic.
Microdermabrasion can tackle acne scarring but you will have to be committed, explains Dr David Eccleston, clinical director of MediZen in Birmingham: "You would need a lot of treatments over a long period of time in combination with other modalities, for example laser treatments and topical creams."
Many clinics offer a chemical peel treatment where layers of skin are removed. For general problems like uneven texture and tone, a medium grade peel is effective but for specific areas it is not always entirely successful, plus you need to factor in a week or so of recovery. "In some cases it can be very effective but there is undoubtedly a downtime. If you're going to have a medium depth skin peel, you're going to be looking at least a week or ten days off work," says David Eccleston.
If you suffer with thread veins, whether on your face or legs, you could have IPL (intense pulsed light) for the face and microsclerotherapy for the legs, whereby the veins are injected with a sclerosant, usually sodium tetradecyl sulphate. "Microsclerotherapy is considerably less painful than IPL. It is also often quite unsightly for a few weeks after the treatment - not something to have done just before you go on holiday! Normally I would recommend people have this treatment in the autumn," says David Eccleston.
Fine lines and wrinkles
Whether you have frown lines, crow's feet or folds, there's a treatment that can help. Botox is used to combat wrinkles caused by expressions, while saggy folds and mouth creases can be treated with fillers, increasing the skin's volume. "What's nice about fillers is that you have an immediate result and they are excellent for nasal labial folds, thin lips and so on - all the tell-tale signs of ageing. Fillers last from nine months to a year and the more treatments you have, the longer the results last," explains Susan Mayou.
You could also tackle wrinkles with retinoids - you'll soon notice the difference."There is compelling evidence that retinoids do have excellent results in anti-ageing. You can get Retin-A on prescription from your GP for photo damage.This is very drying to use, so you might prefer to use one in a moisturising base, which is only available on private prescription.
After several months use you will notice an improvement in your skin's texture and pigmentation, while after a year you'll see improvement in fine lines," says Susan Mayou.
Protecting against skin cancer
Skin cancer is broadly split into two categories: melanoma and non-melanoma. The non-melanoma skin cancers are more common and of those, basal cell carcinomas are the most common. Normally this occurs in fair-skinned people who have had too much sun exposure. "If people have basal cell carcinoma and it's fully removed, then they're cured. They may develop further BCCS, so they will have to remain vigilant," explains Dr Jonathan Bowling, consultant dermatologist at London's Cadogan Clinic.
Each year there is an increase in skin cancer cases - we're not using a high enough SPF factor or looking at our skin. "Two thirds of us never check our skin for changes according to a survey by the British Skin Foundation. Also more worryingly only a third of those that do sunbathe use a ‘high protection' sunscreen (SPF30)," explains Rebecca Freeman at the British Association of Dermatologists.
If you do spot a change in a mole, your GP will usually refer you to a dermatologist. London's Cadogan Clinic offers a skin cancer testing service which gives you the result the same day, without the need for a GP referral. "Despite growing awareness of sun protection, there's a lag between changes in behaviour and development of cancer. We are currently going through an epidemic," explains Jonathan Bowling.
Know your moles:
- Asymmetry - the two halves of the area may differ in shape
- Border - the edges of the area may be irregular or blurred, and sometimes show notches
- Colour - this may be uneven. different shades of black, brown and pink may be seen
- Diameter - most melanomas are at least 6mm in diameter. Report any change in size, shape or diameter to your doctor
- Expert - if in doubt, check it out! If your GP is concerned about your skin, make sure you see a consultant dermatologist, the most expert person to diagnose a skin cancer