MENOPAUSE AND YOUR SKIN 101

MENOPAUSE

Menopause can take a toll on us.  The hormonal shifts have both emotional and physical effects.  Some of it is out of our control, but a lot of it can be managed.

As our estrogen levels drop we notice changes such as hot flashes, changes in our skin and hair, difficulty sleeping, fatigue, irritability and decreased sex drive.  (to name just a few)  As an aesthetic nurse I am frequently asked what can be done to help with some of the skin changes.

Obviously, it goes without saying, that having a healthcare provider to help you manage the medical aspects of “the change” is in your best interest.  HRT (hormone replacement therapy) is a viable option for many of us, but not everyone.  Some individuals may have contraindications for HRT.  If it is an option, estrogen replacement can help alleviate many of the symptoms of menopause.  Each individual has to look at their own medical history and determine what is the best approach for them.

ESTROGEN AND OUR SKIN

As our ovarian function declines,  we lose estrogen production.  A side effect of this is the loss of collagen.  Estrogen helps the body with the production of Collagen I and III.  Additionally, estrogen supports oil gland activity, elastin and subcutaneous fat.  We notice this as we discover our skin thinning, new wrinkles, sagging, dry skin and less volume.  We can provide support to our skin as it experiences menopause related changes.  Here are a few ideas….

  • Eat a healthy diet full of antioxidants. (eat lots of colors!)
  • Try to incorporate soy into your diet.  The isoflavonoids in soy mimic estrogen.
  • Drink plenty of water/stay hydrated.
  • Try to sleep 8 hours a night.  (easier said than done, I know)
  • Wear sunscreen every day, rain or shine!  UV rays break down our collagen.
  • Use a topical antioxidant prior to your sunscreen every day.
  • Utilize a retinol/retinoid (Vit A) product topically at night.  Studies show this helps stimulate new collagen.
  • Utilize peptides in your skin care.  It is proven that various peptides help support the production of collagen and elastin.
  • Use a gentle non-stripping cleanser.
  • Exfoliate your skin.  A physical exfoliant or lighter chemical peel exfoliant.
  • Look for hyaluronic acid in your skin care.
  • Utilize fillers/fat transfers to replace lost volume.
  • If dryness is an issue, make sure your moisturizer is replacing enough moisture so your skin feels comfortable.

There are other issues I hear complaints of related to menopause.  Facial hair growth is a common complaint.  (as estrogen levels drop and our androgen hormones become more dominant)  If there is pigment in the facial hair, laser hair removal is a fantastic option.  If the hair is light or has no pigment, electrolysis is a better option.  There are  also prescription creams that can decrease facial hair growth.

Acne can be a problem that resurfaces at this point.  Again, due to the dominance of androgen hormones our skin can have thicker sebum production.  Retinoids/retinols can be helpful.  For more serious issues your health care provider can help you decide if Spironolactone (a prescription) is an option for you.  The Spironolactone helps suppress the androgen hormones, helping both with hair growth and acne.

Estrogen also helps control our melanocytes.  As we lose the estrogen, hyperpigmentation can become more of a problem.  So, this brings us back to sunscreen and topical antioxidants to protect from UVA/UVB.

For those wanting to go the extra steps to help with collagen production and repair prior damage, there are numerous laser modalities available that make a considerable improvement and difference.  I am currently a fan of  HALO™, IPL’s and Ultherapy®.

I read that we spend 1/3 of our lives in menopause based on the average life expectancy in the developed world.  We can make it feel good and look good ladies!

I’ll finish with a current list of favorites.

SUNSCREENS

The entire line of Elta MD® sunscreens are excellent sunscreen options.

c-e-ferulic

The Skinceuticals line has excellent antioxidants.  Both CE Ferulic® (for drier skin) and Phloretin CF® are great options.

alastin retinol

Alastin® Retinol at night is effective, yet gentle.

Alastin Restorative Skin

The Alastin® Restorative Skin Complex has numerous peptides and antioxidants.  This stimulates collagen and elastin.

Both SkinMedica® and SkinCeuticals offer hyaluronic acid products that effectively boost hyaluronic acid in the skin.

triple lipid restore

SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore is an excellent hydrating cream for those with drier skin.

All of the mentioned products are available at TOC Medical Spa.

We have a sale this month too!

10% off one product

15% off two products

20% off three products

Hope this is a little informative 🙂

 

 

 

 

NATURAL RESULTS

At times patients express hesitation about moving forward with aesthetic treatments because they worry about looking “done”.  There have been enough procedures performed where a person does not look natural, and almost looks like a caricature of their former self.   We have all seen people with either lips or cheeks that mother nature would not have created.  Even celebrities, with deep pockets who can afford to be treated by the most reputable injectors, have become victims of “too much”.

courtney cox

Unfortunately, these examples give the whole industry a bad name. (the actress in the above photos has admittedly been over treated and has since then had a lot of the filler dissolved)

Most injectors will discuss your goals with you and come up with a plan to make you look restored and rejuvenated,  but not “done” or radically changed.  It can be helpful to bring photos of yourself when you were younger to allow you and your provider to review where age related facial changes have occurred.  You can then come up with your individualized rejuvenation plan.

Neuromodulators can help to balance out your depressor muscles, which pull down, and your levitator muscles, which pull up, or lift.  Treating fine lines and creating balance in the face with neuromodulators can have a rejuvenating effect.  Additionally, restoring lost volume and correcting asymmetries with dermal fillers can further restore or correct changes in your face that may be bothering you.  We often note that an individual has more volume loss and skin changes on the side of the face they predominantly sleep on.  This can be subtly addressed with filler, restoring symmetry.

In addition to injectables, you and your provider may decide that skin rejuvenation with laser or light devices may help to improve the appearance of your skin.  There are lasers that can do an amazing job removing hyperpigmentation, improving skin tone and texture and tightening and lifting the skin.

If you have thought about seeing an aesthetic provider but have shied away because of seeing individuals who look overdone, rethink it.  Medical aesthetics can offer a wide range of options to help you look your best.

 

 

DID YOU KNOW?

Ulthera

Did you know Ultherapy® can help with skin texture issues as well as provide lifting and tightening of the tissues?  There are multiple treatment heads, or transducers, that your provider can choose from to customize your treatment.  During an Ultherapy® treatment multiple transducers are used to target  different depths of the dermis.  The most superficial depth, a 1.5 mm transducer, can be very effective at targeting crêpe skin and superficial lines.  Patients frequently report an improvement in their skins general appearance after an Ultherapy® treatment.  They report an improvement in texture and pore size in addition to lifting and tightening.

Ultherapy ® works by creating a controlled injury in the tissues which stimulates the bodies wound healing mechanisms.  This injury is created with microfocused ultrasound.   Once the body recognizes an injury one of the ways it “heals” is by creating new bands of collagen.  The results are gradual as the neocollagenesis (new collagen) can take up to 6 months.  This treatment is ideal for the patient who is not ready for a surgical option but wants to see improvement with minimal downtime.   This is a treatment a patient can receive and be back to normal daily activities the same day.

If there are small treatment areas where the problem is related to skin texture “mini” treatments can be performed with just the 1.5 mm transducer.   Most practices can customize a plan based on your personal issues and treatment goals.

Ultherapy® is the only FDA-cleared nonsurgical skin tightening device using ultrasound, allowing the provider to see precisely where in the tissues the thermal injury will be delivered.

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DECADES

aging face

Our skin care needs change as we age and it is easy to be overwhelmed by all of the choices out there.  This is a quick guide through the decades.

THE 20’s

In our twenties we are generally enjoying the glow of our youth.  This is a time when we frequently take for granted our smooth and plump skin.  This can be a time when we do a lot of the damage we regret years later.  This is a good time to be committed to a supportive skin care regime.

  • Sunscreen is a no brainer.  Ideally with zinc or titanium to assure long lasting, broad spectrum protection.
  • A topical antioxidant to ward off additional UV and free radical damage. (Vitamin C for example)
  • A retinol or low dose retinoid to keep those skin cells turning over and to help manage occasional breakouts.
  • This is the time to introduce an eye cream.  Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  You will thank yourself later in life.
  • For spot treatment of blemishes a product with salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide can be applied.  More is not better because you may replace your blemish with a dried scab which can then hyper pigment.
  • By now you have probably made the correlation with diet and skin and are aware that a healthy, well balanced diet helps all of your organs, including your skin. (in addition to not smoking!)

THE 30’s

Throughout our thirties we start to see subtle changes from exposure and repetitive muscle movement.  In addition to a supportive skin care regime we might consider extra steps to help during this decade.  We are producing less collagen and elastin by now and are starting to notice.

  • Botox® can be introduced to manage lines from repetitive movement. (frown lines, crow’s feet, etc)
  • Chemical peels can help to lift the outer layers of the skin diminishing pigmentation and fine lines and wrinkles. Collagen is stimulated in this process.
  • IPL’s can minimize pigmentation and redness in the skin.
  • Some patients opt to introduce small amounts of filler in their thirties where they are seeing changes related to volume loss.

THE 40’s

As we begin to experience shifts hormonally and as our estrogen levels drop we lose even more collagen, elastin and facial fat.  Our bones are also shrinking under all of that creating more changes we may not love.  Our sebaceous glands are producing less sebum and dry skin may become more of a concern.

  • Continuing with a skin care regime involving sunscreen, antioxidants and a retinol/retinoid is a must.  You may opt to increase the strength of the retinol/retinoid.
  • Additional moisture is frequently needed.  Look for products with ceramides, for instance.
  • Facial volume loss can be managed with an expanding menu of dermal fillers.
  • Botox® can be used to help “lift” when your injector relaxes the muscles pulling down (depressor muscles) allowing the elevator muscles to lift unopposed.
  • IPL’s and more aggressive lasers (fractionated erbium and CO2 for example) can be utilized to manage skin discoloration and texture changes.  Collagen stimulating treatments, like Ultherapy®, can be used to help combat the loss of collagen.
  • Neck, chest and hands can benefit from all of the above!

THE 50’s , 60’s, 70’s and 80’s (and beyond)

In our fifties  we are likely approaching menopause and are continuing to see age related changes.  As we continue in to our sixties and beyond this becomes more of an issue as post-menopausal skin experiences more age related changes without the support of estrogen.   We probably need to boost our moisture as our skin becomes drier.

  • Continue with the three pillars in skin care: sunscreen, antioxidants and retinol/retinoid.
  • Some find it helpful to cut back on the % of their retinol/retinoid to combat  dryness.
  • Increase moisture as needed.
  • Continue to see your provider to determine if Botox®, filler and various laser modalities can help obtain your aesthetic goals.
  • If surgery is appropriate, find a surgeon you trust and have vetted.

 

 

 

 

HOW ABOUT THE NECK?

neck

A youthful neck only lasts so long.  It is an area of the body we commonly receive consultations on.  Did anyone read Nora Ephron’s brutally honest and sarcastically funny book, “I Feel Bad About My Neck And Other Thoughts On Being A Woman”?!  She had a thing or two to say about her neck!

But seriously, we tend to take good care of our faces but neglect our necks.  There are many options for our necks.  From topicals creams,  injectables, skin firming treatments, and finally, surgery.  This will be a quick and easy breakdown of modalities to address a variety of issues that can effect the neck.

As we age the skin on our neck becomes thinner, the platysmal bands show, looking  like cords in our neck.

platysmal bands

Platysmal Bands

Our sub mental fat pads can become more apparent and we loose the definition along our jawline, altering our profile.

neck fat

Sub mental fullness

The tissues can become looser, frequently due to repeated pulling of the platysma muscle along with the loss of collagen and elastin.

loose neck

Loose skin/loss of collagen/elastin

Skin can  become discolored.  A condition called Poikiloderma is common in both men and women.  The skin is marked with a combination of hyperpigmentation and redness (from vascular injuries from sun exposure).  Poikiloderma frequently involves the chest in addition to the neck.  Most often the medial neck is not affected.

poikiloderma

Poikiloderma

I think we can agree the first photograph in this blog looks better than all the others!  So, how to get closer to that….

Platysmal bands can be easily corrected with Botox®.  Botox® is injected along the platysmal band and within two weeks the band will relax and not show.  Additionally, doses of Botox® can also be injected along the mandible (jaw bone) to improve the jawline contour.  This is sometime referred to as a Nefertiti Lift.  This is a quick, non-invasive procedure.

Sub mental fullness can be addressed with Kybella® injections.  The injection of this acid breaks down the fat which is then eliminated by the body.  A series is generally recommended.  Other than 48 hours of socially awkward swelling (think bullfrog), this is a low down time procedure.  The procedure is ideally repeated at 4-6 week intervals.  We are noticing patients experience some skin retraction with this procedure as well. (likely as a result of the inflammatory process in which collagen is stimulated)

The loss of skin turgor can be treated with a skin tightening treatment, such as Ultherapy®.  During this treatment heat is delivered deep in the tissues, using ultrasound, creating tightening and lifting.  This is also a low to no down time procedure as most people can receive an Ultherapy® and return to their activities without anyone knowing.  The improvement is gradual over the next 4-6 months as the collagen that was stimulated grows in.

Discoloration, such as Poikiloderman, can be treated with a series of IPL treatments.  Again, other than redness the day of treatment, this is a minimally invasive/no downtime procedure.  We recommend a series of 3-5 treatments.

I do not want to underestimate the importance of good skin care.  Sunscreen is a no brainer.  There are also products specifically formulated to treat the skin of the neck and décolleté.  My current favorite is Neocutis® Microfirm™.   This topical product, utilitzing peptides and glycolic acid,  increases elasticity and improves skins crepey appearance.  It can also help to fade hyperpigmentation.

microfirm

Finally, there comes a time when the tools and products we have in a medical spa are not enough.  There is a time when the neck is best addressed with a skilled surgeon.  A neck lift involves redraping the skin.  Additionally the platysma muscle is reattached and tightened.  You and your skin care provider ideally have honest conversations along the way allowing to make this call when it is appropriate.

Anyway, don’t forget your neck!  Hope this gives you some helpful tips:-)