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If you are dealing with sun damage then you are no stranger to scars, wrinkles, dark spots and sunburn on your skin. This is where our Fairfax, VA, team of chief medical officer Dr. Syed Ashraf along with Dr. Fatima Aziz and Glenda Thomas, DNP can help you manage your symptoms and offer the best laser treatments possible.
Sun Damage, Wrinkles, and Sunscreen
We’re all exposed to the sun and its ultraviolet rays although not to the same extent. A trucker who spends 10 hours on the road each day will certainly suffer more than someone who works in an office. You’ll even see the difference on the face of a driver as the side facing the window will show more damage than the other.
Forms of Sun Damage
Ultraviolet rays damage DNA particularly in the skin. By doing this the skin starts to lose its integrity, elasticity, and its ability to resist damage.
Wrinkles, age spots, dry skin, spider veins, loose skin, and a ruddy complexion are just some of the things you might notice on someone who’s exposed to the sun for a large amount of time.
We’re mainly talking about chronic skin exposure here, but if you were to be exposed to lots of sunlight on a vacation for instance you would end up with the famous sunburn. Sunburns are often mild only producing some redness and tenderness. If you’re not careful though, it could be more severe with the formation of fluid filled blisters.
Actinic keratosis is another much feared complication of prolonged sun exposure. Actinic keratosis is a skin lesion that appears in the form of a scale (or a couple of them). These scales are usually reddish or brown and won’t go away on their own. You’ll have to visit a dermatologist to treat them by chemical removal or freezing.
We worry about actinic keratosis because about 10% of them end up changing into cancer particularly squamous cell carcinoma.
The most prominent risk factor for the development of skin cancer is excessive exposure to sunlight and the ultraviolet rays that come with it. Basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and malignant melanoma can all develop but basal cell carcinoma is the most common. People with light skin have fewer melanin which makes them more likely to develop these cancers as opposed to people with darker skin who are protected by melanin.
Wrinkles form because of damage to collagen in your dermis. Sunlight and smoking are the two causes that speed up the development of wrinkles the most. The dermis is the part of your skin beneath the epidermis and it contains collagen which plays a big role in maintaining the integrity of skin. Ultraviolet rays damage the collagen resulting in a loss of that integrity.
If you want to protect yourself from sun induced wrinkles, you shouldn’t spend too much time in the sun especially around noon. Wear protective clothing even if it’s something light just to keep the sun from affecting your arms and legs. As for areas that can’t be covered by clothing you should rely on sunscreen and we’ll talk more about that in a few.
There are several available treatments to treat wrinkles that already exist:
- Fractional laser is a new and exciting method of treating wrinkles. The laser works by creating small invisible wounds in your skin. These wounds induce skin healing and the formation of new collagen. About 1-2 sessions will be needed at intervals of a few weeks.
- Laser Genesis (Lunch Time Facial) is another laser method of treating wrinkles and boosting collagen. By gently heating the upper dermis, laser genesis stimulates collagen growth. Over the course of your treatments, laser genesis can help restore your skin’s youthful glow and an appearance by smoothing out uneven texture caused by aging, sun damage, scars, and wrinkles. 3-6 sessions will be needed for maximum results.
- One of the most popular ones is the injection of botulinum toxin which paralyzes the muscles under the skin. One of the most popular places people inject botulinum is in the forehead where most people develop wrinkles as they age. This is of course done by a doctor and not self-administered. The effects last 6-9 months.
- Injecting filler into wrinkles can flatten them out and elevate the skin. This also lasts 6-9 months depending on how much filler was injected and where.
- Face lifting by plastic surgeons can be used in cases where the damage is somewhat extensive.
When you meet your doctors at Carelife Style, you’ll have a discussion on the best available treatment option for you.
Choosing Your Sunscreen
Sunscreen is your biggest ally when it comes to protection from sun damage. The American Cancer Society has a few recommendations to help you choose the best sunscreen.
First of all, look for products that are broad spectrum. There are two forms of UV (ultraviolet) light, UVA and UVB. The sun mostly emits UVB which are the main cause of sunburns and skin cancer. So any regular sunscreen will protect against UVB. Broad spectrum products will also protect against UVA. UVA might not be emitted by the sun in high amounts but it still has a role in skin cancer and skin aging. So look for broad-spectrum sunscreens for maximum protection.
SPF, sun protection factor, is another major determinant of a product’s quality and ability to resist sun damage. No sunscreen protects you completely but the higher the SPF, the more protection you get. Keep in mind though that once the numbers start to get high, the differences between them become fewer.
To simplify it, SPF 15 filters out around 93% of UVB rays and SPF 30 filters out about 97%. The difference between them is about 4%. On the other hand, SPF 50 and 100 filter out 98% and 99% of UVB rays respectively making the difference between them just 1%.
Try to purchase sunscreen that’s water resistant. This doesn’t mean it can’t be washed off, it just means that it can last for a specified period of time in the water before it loses its effect. Water resistance is useful if you’re going swimming or expect to sweat a lot. Products will specify how long the water resistant effect should last. It’s usually between 40 and 80 minutes. After that you’ll need to reapply.
Protecting your skin from the sun and its UVB rays is important not just for appearance, but also in the prevention of skin cancer. If you have light skin then you should be extra cautious too. With all the changes in our climate and the ozone, the threat of harmful rays from the sun is higher than ever so we need to take extra precautions to protect ourselves.
Call Carelife Style Medical Aesthetics today at (703) 854-1298 to schedule an appointment with us.
Modern dermatology is all about laser and light based treatments. When it comes to laser and light system, there’s no better than xeo. With xeo, your dermatologist will be able to handle and take care of any cosmetic issue that’s bothering you whether it’s hyperpigmentation, wrinkles, excess hair, or apparent veins.
xeo uses Nd:YAG, laser genesis, and other technologies to deliver lasers to your skin in order to address any problems. It does this in a very limited number of procedures and with minimal discomfort. This means you’ll be able to proceed with your life naturally.
The Laser Genesis procedure is a great one in order to even out and polish skin. It’s no wonder that it’s one of the most popular procedures for the treatment and removal of acne scars. You should see significant results after just one 20-30 minute session with Laser Genesis. You won’t need any sort of anesthesia either as the procedure is completely harmless. You’ll just need to cover your eyes with goggles.
Pearl Fractional procedures require some anesthesia as opposed to Laser Genesis, but they have more applications. Apart from treating acne scars, Pearl Fractional works to eliminate large pores, wrinkles, and any skin irregularities too. The laser used by the technology stimulates damaged skin to heal itself by removing the top layer while leaving healthy skin unaffected.
By removing the top layer to clear imperfections and promote healthy healing of skin, Pearl Fractional leaves skin a little raw. So you can expect a 10-12 day downtime after the procedure. By the end of 30 days following the procedure you’ll start to notice significant improvement as your skin repairs itself properly.
Skin Revitalization Therapy
This actually uses a combination of technologies rather than a single one to yield greater results in a short period of time. xeo 2D Skin Revitalization Therapy combines Limelight and Laser Genesis technologies to remove scars, redness, and brown spots from skin.
xeo 3D Revitalization Therapy adds Titan to Limelight and Laser Genesis for the same purposes in addition to combating signs of aging such as wrinkles. Both procedures are associated with almost no downtime.
xeo comes with a variety of handpieces, each with a particular purpose and technology that gives it an edge for that purpose.
When it comes to hair removal, vascular lesions such as veins, pigmented lesions, and skin resurfacing, Nd:YAG is one of the best. By using a particular wavelength, Nd:YAG can be used for up to 15 different conditions and is great for all skin types. It’s also associated with no downtime.
LimeLight uses non-invasive light to adjust skin particularly when it comes to pigmentation. This handpiece is probably the most useful one to treat sun spots and pigmentation such as melasma. It’s also useful for vascular lesions such as small veins on the face or legs. Overall, as the name implies, LimeLight is the go to technology for all issues related to complexion.
ProWave LX is to hair removal what LimeLight is to complexion. Whether you need hair removed from your back or a tiny region of your face, ProWave LX can get it done with ease and comfort. It’s time to give up constant shaving and worrying about hair in undesirable areas. Live with comfort after one or a couple of sessions of ProWave LX.
AcuTip can be used for very small areas of abnormal pigmentation. It’s based on cryotherapy but avoids the disadvantages of most other crytherapy modalities. People often fear cryotherapy because it’s associated with some scarring and rarely hypopigmentation. AcuTip is a safe form of cryo and is a precise tool to eliminate small spider veins on the face without worrying about side effects.
Titan’s effects are unparalleled when it comes to combating aging. As opposed to cryotherapy, infrared can be used to heat skin in order to improve its quality. Titan is a prime example of a premium infrared light source. By heating the deeper skin layers, the device will tighten skin and stimulate formation and growth of collages which is responsible for giving skin its strength.
The main use of Titan is as an anti-aging tool to combat wrinkles. It’s often used on the face, neck, beneath the chin, and on the abdomen. Not to mention that it can be combined with LimeLight and Laser Genesis in a 3D Skin Revitalization Procedure.
Not all skin lesions are deep, some can be restricted to the superficial layer of the skin called the epidermis. Pearl Er:YSGG is a decent option for these superficial skin imperfections which can include age spots and wrinkles.
Your dermatologist will decide whether your cosmetic complaints are superficial and can be treated using this technology or if they’ll need something with more penetrating power.
Pearl Fractional Er:YSGG
We’ve already talked about this before as one of the prominent technologies in a xeo platform’s arsenal. Pearl Fractional laser is one of the top options for acne scars along with Laser Genesis. Some of its other uses include treating enlarged pores, wrinkles, and skin irregularities in general.
As we mentioned earlier, you’ll face up to 12 days of downtime as the procedure will leave the skin raw. If you’ve had a recent session and haven’t seen any improvement, just give it some time. You might only start noticing skin healing after a couple of weeks.
It’s clear that xeo systems have all the technology needed to deal with dermatological problems. Your problem could be acne scars, wrinkling, or hyperpigmentation, xeo has what it takes to deal with it all. Consult your doctor and he or she will be able to tell you what would suit your condition best. Discuss treatment options and plan how many sessions it’ll take.
At the end you’ll certainly be satisfied with your skin and the results. The bright side is that most of these technologies have no down time so your life won’t be affected at all.
Acne can be a stubborn problem that people of all ages deal with. While many people only associate embarrassing acne with adolescence, the fact remains that acne can adversely affect anyone. If you are having trouble getting your breakouts under control with acne-fighting cleansers and at-home care, it might be time to talk to our team here at CareLifeStyle Medical Aesthetics, chief medical officer Dr. Syed Ashraf along with medical aestheticians Dr. Fatima Aziz and Glenda Thomas, DNP. Read on to find out how we can help you!
Different Acne Treatments
Before deciding the best course of action, we will first need to examine your skin and determine the cause of your acne. This information will help us decide the most effective treatment option or options for you. In some cases, when nonprescription acne products aren’t helping, your physician at Carelife Style will simply prescribe a stronger medication. This can often reduce the frequency and severity of your acne breakouts as well as lessen the risk for scarring and long-term skin damage.
Common topical acne medications include:
- Salicylic acid or azelaic acid
For women dealing with hormonal-related acne, certain oral contraceptives can also be prescribed to reduce the severity of your acne breakouts. As with any medication, it can take a couple of months to see the results you are looking for, so it’s important to be patient when it comes to starting a new acne treatment. There are no overnight fixes, but our medical aestheticians will work with you to make sure that we find the right solution for treating your acne.
Laser Acne Treatment
Here at CareLifeStyle Medical Aesthetics, we also offer the laser Genesis system on the excel-v platform, which can reduce the appearance of lines, wrinkles, and other imperfections, as well as smooth away superficial acne scars and shrink enlarged pores. It works by killing acne-causing bacteria on and under the skin in order to eliminate acne scars on the face, neck, and chest.
Treatment requires multiple sessions spaced about a month apart. Patients dealing with more severe acne problems may require up to six treatment sessions, and each laser Genesis session takes about 30 minutes.
Another treatment option is the Pearl Fractional Laser with the XEO laser platform. It works to prevent acne by counteracting the overactive sebaceous glands, which can clog up skin pores when it produces an excess amount of oil. This treatment also works by stimulating your body's healing process and is used to treat acne scars.
If you want to find out what acne treatment options are available to you in Fairfax, VA, then call CareLifeStyle Medical Aesthetics at (703) 854-1298.
Melasma is one of the most common skin conditions present. It’s characterized by skin patches of hyperpigmentation. It’s basically a cosmetic problem with no other systemic or skin effects.
The condition is found predominantly in women. In fact, 90% of those suffering from melasma are females. You might hear the names “chloasma” and “mask of pregnancy,” these are all synonymous with melasma and refer to the same thing.
Sites Affected and Symptoms
As we said, melasma is a skin condition causing dark skin patches. It mainly affects areas exposed to the sun so it makes sense that the face is most commonly affected. Predominantly affected areas on the face are the cheeks, chin, forehead, and bridge of the nose. Patches can also present on the neck and forearms but this isn’t common.
Melasma is purely cosmetic. The patches do not itch, hurt, or cause any form of discomfort. There’s also no increased risk of skin cancer. If you suffer from melasma and aren’t bothered by it, you can neglect it. Treatment is only necessary if it’s making you self conscious about how you look.
Causes of Melasma
Sadly, there’s no definite cause for melasma. There are a bunch of risk factors that we know of that can increase a person’s likelihood if getting it, but no direct cause that can be eliminated.
For starters, it seems that people with darker skin tones are more likely to develop chloasma than fair skinned people. Another important risk factor is exposure to sunlight.
Ultraviolet rays from the sun affect the activity of melanocytes in our skin. Melanocytes are cells present in our skin that produce melanin which is the substance that determines how dark our skin is.
Hormonal changes are thought to produce a massive role in the development of melasma. Estrogen in particular is thought to be of particular importance. This helps explain why women suffer from the condition significantly more than men.
Further proof of the importance of the role of hormones is that pregnant women and women on oral contraceptive pills can develop melasma. The fact that the condition is found on the cheeks giving it a mask like appearance and often develops during pregnancy is why some people refer to it as the “mask of pregnancy."
The diagnosis of melasma is straightforward and almost exclusively a clinical one. Any doctor will probably be able to identify melasma upon looking at it, but it’s still best to consult a dermatologist to confirm the diagnosis.
In most cases, no further testing is required and treatment can start straightaway. Sometimes, however, your dermatologist might ask for a few more tests to be absolutely certain of the diagnosis.
Wood’s lamp examination is a kind of test that can be performed at your dermatologist’s office. The benefits of examining a patient’s skin using Wood’s lamp are two-fold. First of all, it’ll rule out the presence of a fungal infection which, if present, would show a certain kind of florescence when exposed to light from Wood’s lamp. The second benefit is identifying how many skin layers are affected by melasma.
This test is seldom required though. Melasma is too common and too easy of a clinical diagnosis to require any form of additional testing. The lack of complications also makes extra tests unnecessary.
Melasma is fairly harmless. If you’re not bothered by it, you can simply let it be and not seek any form of treatment. Nonetheless, if you’re okay with it now, you probably won’t be if it gets worse or darker. Finding ways to keep existing patches steady and constant is important for everyone.
This can be achieved by protecting your face from the sun. Stay in the shade whenever possible, and if it’s necessary to go out in the sun then apply sunscreen, preferably SPF 30. You might also consider wearing a wide brimmed hat so that its shade protects your entire face from harmful ultraviolet rays.
Some women develop chloasma during pregnancy or while they’re on hormonal contraceptive pills. There’s some good news for them because their melasma will often disappear and be reversed once their pregnancy is over or when they stop taking the contraceptive pills.
For mild cases with very slight pigmentation, makeup can be used to cover the patches. It’ll still be necessary to protect the face from the sun, however, to avoid their progression.
Hydroquinone is regarded as the first line treatment option for melasma. This drug has a similar structure to that used to treat malaria, but in the form of cream, lotion, gel, or liquid it can be applied topically to lighten hyperpigmented skin patches.
You might find over the counter topical agents containing hydroquinone at the pharmacy. These contain lower concentrations of the drug so are safer and can be used without a prescription.
Other medical options are corticosteroids and tretinoin. These are also great options to help lighten skin. If hydroquinone alone fails to give satisfactory results, your dermatologist might add these drugs to your prescription.
There are available topical creams and lotions that contain all 3 drugs. Taking all 3 drugs is called triple therapy and is sometimes required.
Medicine doesn’t work for everyone; this is where procedures such as laser therapy, chemical peeling, and dermabrasion come in as a last line of treatment for melasma.
Enlighten laser is arguably the best and most effective procedure when it comes to treating chloasma. It works via picoseconds laser pulses to get rid of hyperpigmentation resulting in lighter skin. You may have heard of Enlighten laser as a method of removing tattoos, this is an indication of its power and efficiency.
With Enlighten laser you’ll probably need fewer sessions to remove the hyperpigmented patches. Luckily, Enlighten is associated with less discomfort compared to other lasers and melasma treatment procedures. Any mild discomfort can be avoided by applying a topical anesthetic before starting the session.
The areas treated by the laser might be slightly swollen and red after a session but this effect is short lasting. Your face should return to normal in a few hours, so you can resume your daily activities.
- Call our Fairfax physicians, Dr. Fatima Aziz, Dr. Syed Ashraf, and Glenda Thomas, NP at Carelife Style Medical Aesthetics in Fairfax, Virginia.
- We offer complimentary consults to help you choose the appropriate treatment for you.
- Call us at (703)854-1298
How Does Laser Tattoo Removal Work?
At our Fairfax office, our doctors use Enlighten, the most advanced laser therapy known to safely and effectively remove tattoos. Most laser tattoo removal systems offer short, nanosecond laser pulses to break apart the ink that lies deep within the skin. Our Enlighten system uses short but powerful picosecond laser pulses, which means that it can remove the tattoo more effectively than traditional laser tattoo removal treatments.
Tattoos are on the rise right now. Some get them just for fun or as part of a dare while others get them for symbolic reasons. While they seem like such a great idea at the time, many people often choose to have their tattoos removed later on.
When you get a tattoo you’re basically getting ink injected in the dermal layer of your skin. Your skin is composed of two layers: epidermis and dermis. The epidermis is superficial and regenerates while the dermis is the deeper layer.
Once pigment is injected into your dermis certain cells called macrophages arrive at the site of ink injection and “swallow” the ink particles. As your body forms an inflammatory reaction, instead of clearing the ink particles and the macrophages it’ll instead trap them where they are.
This is why tattoos are permanent and don’t fade with time. The ink is inside macrophages and both are embedded into your skin. Perhaps as a person gets older the tattoo starts to lose some if its quality and details because the ink penetrates deeper into the skin.
Hazards of Tattoos
The pain is what most people worry about and getting tattoos is relatively harmless otherwise. How much pain a person feels will depend on their pain threshold as well as the tattoo artist’s skill.
Another complication one should be aware of is the possibility of developing an allergic reaction. This can happen during a person’s tattoo or on subsequent ones if the body starts developing an allergy to the ink used.
Allergic reactions could be mild with some skin redness and itching or they may be so severe that they result in an anaphylactic reaction. Anaphylaxis is potentially lethal since it stops a person from breathing and could end in death if not treated immediately.
Infection is a very mild risk nowadays since tattoo parlors sterilize and renew their equipment regularly to avoid being the reason someone got infected with a disease. Pathogens that can be transmitted by getting a tattoo include hepatitis B and C, herpes, HIV, and even tetanus.
There’s no reason to worry though because tattoo artists are very careful when it comes to sterilization and disinfection. These issues still exist due to unclean tattoo practices such as getting a tattoo in prison.
Taking Care of Your Tattoo
The tattoo artist will cover it with petroleum jelly and a bandage once he or she is done. That bandage should be removed after 24 hours and the tattoo washed with water and antimicrobial soap then dried lightly.
For the next 3-4 weeks you should wash the tattoo a couple of times per day while applying antibacterial ointment twice a day without adding a bandage. It would also be a good idea to not go swimming or expose your tattoo to the sun for a couple of weeks. Also try not to shower with very hot water as that can wash off some of the ink.
You might experience some pain or pricking over the tattoo but you shouldn’t scratch it or try to peel it. This should go away for a few days. Picking at it will remove the ink and might result in an infection. You definitely don’t want either.
25% of people with tattoos say they regret their decision and would like to get their tattoo(s) removed. This can easily be done at a trained professional’s office using laser therapy. Laser works by emitting high intensity light beams which destroy the pigment colors.
Black tattoos are the easiest to remove because they simply absorb wall wavelengths so the effect of laser is maximized. If your tattoo has other colors then your doctor will determine the right lasers for those colors in order to ensure a complete and successful removal.
Naturally the smaller a tattoo the fewer laser sessions it’ll take to remove it while larger ones will need more sessions. Nonetheless you should notice the color of your tattoo fade a little more after each session indicating that the treatment is working.
Laser therapy is often a little uncomfortable and local anesthesia might be used by your doctor. Applying ice to the area after a laser session will definitely help reduce the pain and discomfort too.
Side Effects of Removal
You got a tattoo then decided to get it removed, that’s a lot of trauma to the skin considering the introduction of ink followed by an inflammatory reaction then the trauma from laser.
First of all there’s the risk of an infection. We’re not talking about serious disease transmission such as hepatitis or HIV, what we mean here is local skin infection and inflammation. It’s not pleasant and might affect your treatment but it’s not really dangerous.
There are also a few skin complications that might happen affecting the pigmentation of that skin area. First, your tattoo might not be completely removed especially if it has several colors. If it contains darker colors like black and blue then it has a greater chance of being successfully removed completely since these absorb almost all laser wavelengths.
The other issue with pigmentation is that skin exposed to the laser might suffer from hypo or hyperpigmentation. This means that in place of the tattoo you could end up with slightly lighter or darker skin.
All of these side effects can be avoided by using advanced laser techniques and visiting an expert.
Enlighten laser tattoo removal is one of the best laser options out there. This is because the device uses picoseconds laser pulses to destroy the ink in your dermis. These pulses are shorter but more powerful than most other lasers available. You have a better chance of getting your tattoo completely removed and in fewer sessions using Enlighten Laser.
This method may also result in some patient discomfort but according to those who have experienced Enlighten and other laser therapies: Enlighten is associated with less discomfort. Anyhow it can be avoided by applying a topical anesthetic.
You might also notice that the area exposed to the laser is a little swollen and red but this is temporary. Generally, you will be able to resume your normal activities in no time.
Why Go with Enlighten?
Simply put, Enlighten is less painful, more effective, and faster. Whereas Laser Tattoo Removal can take many treatment sessions, Enlighten can get rid of a tattoo within two treatment sessions–and you’ll heal from it faster when everything is said and done.
Want to know more about the best laser tattoo removal service in Fairfax, VA and learn more about how Enlighten works? Contact us today to schedule an appointment (703)854-1298