Askanesthetician's Blog

An esthetician explores skincare issues and concerns

Can You Erase Stretch Marks? February 28, 2011

I think that stretch marks are up there with cellulite as one of the more annoying yet typical skincare issues that millions of people suffer from.  I keep seeing commercials on TV for creams that claim to get rid of stretch marks and make all sorts of incredible promises about how easy it is to get rid of stretch marks.  Well the truth about stretch marks is different from what those TV commercials would have you believe.


What Are Stretch Marks?


Stretch marks are technically an atropic scar that forms from the inside out in the skin and occurs when the skin is abnormally stretched for an extended period of time like during pregnancy or weight gain.  These marks form when collagen and elastin, the skin’s support system, break down or lose their structure beneath the skin’s surface.  Stretch marks can look almost like wood grain, and the skin tends to be shinier, even sometimes a little red or white,  in those areas.  Stretch marks can appear on the belly, the backs of the hips, insides of the knees, and the sides of the breasts.  


Who Gets Stretch Marks?


Here is the bad news, or depending on your perspective, the good news.  Stretch marks are ultimately genetic.  Yes, rapid weight loss and gain along with pregnancy are contributing factors for stretch mark formation but even if you are thin you can get stretch marks if you have a genetic predisposition for them.  Because of the strong genetic connection stretch marks are hard to prevent.


Treatment Options


Don’t buy all those over the counter creams that claim to erase stretch marks.  Save your money!  They don’t work!  And now for more bad news – there is no such thing as erasing stretch marks completely, but you can improve their appearance and make them less visible. 

Retinoids, prescription retinol creams and gels, may help to slowly improve the appearance of stretch marks since they exfoliate the epidermis.  But you can’t expect vast improvements in the appearance of your stretch marks if you just use retinoids.

By far the best solution for improving the appearance of stretch marks is to do laser treatments.  You do need to invest significant time and money in these laser treatments since you’ll need on average ten to twenty visits in order to see a real significant change in the appearance of your stretch marks.  There are a few different type of lasers that can be used to treat stretch marks.  A qualified physician can tell you about all your options. Another treatment that might work are physician administered TCA peels which penetrate deeply enough to stimulate the growth of new collagen and smooth the skin.


Sources and Further Reading


Cosmetic Procedures and Practices to Avoid February 21, 2011

Recently I read with horror the story of a young woman who died following a botched cosmetic procedure performed in a hotel room in the Philadelphia area.   There were numerous disturbing things about this tragic story but far and away one of the most upsetting aspect was the idea that someone would go to a hotel room to have what was obviously an unsafe cosmetic procedure.  Reading a story like this makes made me wonder what the thought process one would have behind making such a decision in the first place, let alone going through with it.

Needless to say this tragedy was quite avoidable which makes it even more upsetting.  So that begs the question – how can you be sure that the cosmetic procedure you are getting is safe?  And moreover how can you be sure that the person doing the procedure is legit?

There are a lot of procedures being offered by medical spas that are actually quite controversial and it is best to educate yourself before paying any money let alone proceeding with surgery.  Take for instance a procedure called Lipodissolve which promises to remove small pockets of fat through injections.  Sounds great, right?  Well actually it sounds great only on paper.  In reality the procedure is controversial enough that the FDA is cracking down on medspas that advertise that they perform this procedure.  Not only is the procedure not FDA approved, there is no evidence that it actually works. 

So once again, how do you protect yourself both financially and health-wise when you want to get a cosmetic procedure done?  When selecting a plastic surgeon make sure that they are board certified in plastic surgery and work in an accredited facility.  Ask a lot of questions during your consultation.  And it goes without saying that you should do a consult before any procedure.  If  some place wants you to go ahead with a procedure without a consult with a doctor (not a sales person but a doctor) definitely stay away!  Not only should you feel comfortable to ask about all aspects of a procedure during a consult, but any good doctor shouldn’t give you trouble when you ask about their credentials and experience.  You can quickly figure out if the doctor you’ve consulted with is board certified by logging to the American Board of Medical Specialties and looking up the doctor.  Educate yourself!  There even good resources online like The American Society of Plastic Surgeons website and New Beauty can give you details about popular cosmetic procedures.

Above all use your common sense – if your gut feeling tells you that things don’t feel right – stay away.  If someone offers to do your surgery for a cut-rate price there is usually a reason for that, a bad reason – stay away.  Legitimate places can offer discounts on surgery but if you are quoted a price that is way below the going rate there is probably a bad reason for that.  While the results of cosmetic surgery can be life changing and life enhancing do make sure that you proceed with caution and feel good about your decision before going through with anything.


More tips


More Beauty Facts February 15, 2011

Filed under: beauty — askanesthetician @ 7:55 am
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A few more interesting and curious beauty facts:

  •  “Health and beauty care items” accounted for 20% of all items stolen from supermarkets in 2008, according to a survey from the Food Marketing Institute, with Oil of Olay skin creams topping the list of swiped items. (Skin Inc.)
  • According to The NPD Group Inc., in 2005 the average age a woman began using beauty products was 17; today it is 13.7. Experian Market Research shows that 43% of 6- to 9-year-olds are already using lipstick or lip gloss, 38% use hairstyling products and 12% use other cosmetics (J. Bennett: Newsweek article “Generation Diva”). (Skin Inc.)
  • According to Datamonitor, 28% of consumers currently deliberately avoid certain cosmetics or toiletries because of fears about certain ingredients, and 39% are somewhat or extremely concerned about parabens or petrochemicals used in beauty product formulations. U.S. Food and Drug Administration statistics confirm that cosmetics are one of the safest categories of products used by Americans: With more than 11 billion personal care products sold each year, only 150 adverse experiences (mostly skin rashes or allergies) have been reported. (Skin Inc.)

Skincare for Men February 8, 2011

So do men really need different skincare products than women?  Simply put – the answer is no.  Do men have different skincare needs than women?  Sometimes yes. 

Men can have oilier skin than women because their hormones tend to produce more oil in the facial oil glands than women, but if you shave daily you can fix that problem.  Actually shaving daily exfoliates the skin so you can even end up drying out your skin.  Furthermore, shaving cream is actually a form of soap so its use can lead to dry skin with men.  But overall, skin is skin, and men and women will have the same skin issues and problems.

Having said that there are a few skincare issues that men face that women usually don’t have to deal with.  One problem many men have are ingrown hairs on their face and neck from shaving.  Men can also have irritated or red skin from shaving.  Combat this problem by using a pad or lotion with salicylic acid in it to gently exfoliate the area with the ingrown hairs. 

Men have a tendency to wash their faces with bar soap.  Bar soap is very alkaline and as such it is very drying to the skin.  Instead use a gentle cleanser once or twice a day to wash your face.

Two other things that men seem to shy away from (though I really can’t figure out why) are – sunscreen and moisturizer.  If you want to stay looking young and want to protect yourself from skin cancer and sun damage you need sunscreen on a daily basis, year round – not just during the summer when you are going to be outside.  Choose a sunscreen that is formulated for your skin type or use a moisturizer with spf if your skin tends to be on the dry side.  As for moisturizer – if you have dry skin, anywhere on your body, use a moisturizer to restore balance and softness to your skin.  I can guarantee you that no one wants to shake someone’s hand who has dry and scaly skin.  There is such an easy solution to this problem – moisturize!


Can Men Use Skincare Products Marketed Toward Women?


Yes!  Let me say that again – yes!  Skincare products marketed toward men are simply that – a marketing ploy.  Men usually want straightforward looking packaging and labeling and little to no fragrance in their skincare products.  The skincare product lines that claim to be for men are just packaged differently than those for women – the ingredients are essentially the same.  Usually men want their skincare regime to clear, concise, and not to have too many steps.  This can be achieved with any skincare line.  Of course men who shave daily might seek out specific products for that grooming task and use products that are marketed just for that use.  (By the way, there are even make-up lines for men)  Bottom line – product lines marketed toward men are simply trying to sell something to men that they feel comfortable using both publicly and privately. 


Further Reading and Product Recommendations


Website Recommendation: The Beauty Brains February 3, 2011

I am not sure why it took me so long to come across this website since its contents go along so well with many of the issues I have addressed in my blog.  Anyhow, now that I have discovered it I want to share the information about this website with my readers.

So The Beauty Brains is written by a group of cosmetic chemists who help their readers cut through advertising confusion and explain if skincare and hair products will really work.  According to the website their purpose is:

We’re here to help you cut through the confusing, misleading and sometimes false information that the beauty companies bombard you with. Our goal is to explain cosmetic science to you in a way that’s entertaining and easy to understand. We believe the more information you have, the better you’ll be able to find products that you like at a price you can afford. So, you can listen to the advertising. Or advice from a friend. Or what your stylist tells you. But if you want to really understand cosmetic products in an unbiased, scientific way, Ask The Beauty Brains. You’ll get answers from a team of scientists who have no sales pitch and nothing for you to buy.


You can submit questions to the site in order to receive their expert answers.  Additionally, the authors of the website have published an online book called:  How to Save Money on Beauty Products that does a great job of debunking so much of the hype, misleading advertising, and myths that are out there about skincare and hair products.  A lot of the information in the book I mentioned in my recent post Buyer Beware, but the book goes into greater detail than I did and has interesting examples to illustrate their points.

Further reading:  I wrote this post about sources for skincare information a long time ago, but my recommendations still stand.  All the sources listed in the post are good reads for more information about skincare issues and products.


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