How to Get Your Face Ready for the Real World Again

With the Biden administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announcing that people who have been vaccinated no longer need to wear masks indoors or outdoors, signs are pointing to a semi-normal summer for our faces. Which, for some, raises the question: Are our faces ready?

“I had a client—she is an older patient, and she emailed me and said: ‘Hey, I’m getting my second vaccine next week, and I’d like to schedule laser resurfacing before summer’,” says Gabrielle Garritano, co-founder of JECT, a beauty bar with locations in Manhattan and Long Island’s Hamptons that specialize in medical aesthetics. 

With Memorial Day weeks away, people are looking for rapid results with little disruption. “The biggest advance is technology in the last five years has been in treatments that have less downtime than older traditional lasers and things of that nature,” says Dr. Paul Jarrod Frank, a New York-based celebrity cosmetic dermatologist. Just don’t expect an overnight miracle.

“The things that have the shortest amount of downtime that are still considered universally impactful tend to be impactful in an iterative way—meaning they build on themselves,” says aesthetic and reconstructive plastic surgeon Dr. Steven M. Levine. We gathered a few minimally invasive cosmetic procedures to treat a variety of skin concerns, but as Dr. Frank advises: “When people are looking for quick fixes, just be honest about what you can accomplish.”

For those who want to spruce up their skin, maintain a youthful look, and prevent early signs of photo aging such as pigmentation and fine lines. Clear + Brilliant —or “baby Fraxel” as medical insiders like to call it—is an option. This fractional laser—it treats a small portion of this skin at a time- creates microscopic injuries to the dermis, which promotes new collagen production. “I use Clear + Brilliant on young patients because obviously, their rooms aren’t too dirty, and [the skin] doesn’t need that much cleaning up,” says Dr. Frank. “Or I’m doing it for my older patients who get their Fraxel every September at the end of the summer, but they want a little quick fix.” It’s gentler than other fractional resurfacing lasers, but the skin is noticeably brighter afterward. Patients may experience a little redness, and skin may feel like sandpaper after treatment, but there’s no downtime. Skin immediately looks refreshed, and it feels softer; depending on the condition of skin and desired results, though, four to six treatments are recommended. 

Address Saggy Jowls and Chicken Neck

Treat sagging jowls and loose skin under the neck while practicing physical distancing with the use of Evoke. Board certified dermatologists such as Dr. Bruce Katz of JUVA Skin & Laser Center in New York and celebrity aesthetician Joanna Vargas use this Food and Drug Administration-approved hands-free device by applying applicators to the cheeks or neck, which deliver radio frequency to heat deep tissue layers. This stimulates collagen production for noticeable lifting and tightening of the skin. “This proprietary, non-invasive technology is an industry first, delivering a structural reorganization of the facial and submental tissues,” explains Vargas. A slightly more sculpted jawline can be seen in 30 minutes, but four to six treatments, spaced one to two weeks apart, are required for optimal results. Virtually painless and with no downtime, patients can meet friends for a cocktail right afterward. 

Evoke may be the new kid on the block, but Ultherapy is the trusted veteran when it comes to non-surgical lifting. This high-intensity device uses ultrasound technology to penetrate and heat under the skin to kickstart collagen production. It is FDA-cleared to treat the brow area and to smooth lines on décolletage, in addition to tightening cheeks, chin, and neck. Vanessa Coppola, a certified advanced-practice nurse, board-certified family nurse practitioner, and founder of Bare Aesthetic in New Jersey, says the treatment can feel a bit “spicy,” but 800 milligrams of Ibuprofen an hour beforehand helps with discomfort. Depending on the areas treated, the customized procedure can take about two hours, but results can last one to two years.

Take On Enlarged Pores, Scars, and Wrinkles

“People who have very discreet lines around their mouth or have enlarged pores or acne scars—I’m doing a lot of microneedling,” says Dr. Tina Alster, a fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology, founding director of the Washington Institute of Dermatologic Laser Surgery, and clinical professor of dermatology at Georgetown University Medical Center. Not to be confused with a derma roller purchased at a beauty store for at-home collagen induction therapy, this device is an automated pen with 36 fine needles that puncture tiny holes in the skin. It stimulates the body’s natural wound-healing process and creates new dermal tissue, building more even tone and texture.

Erase Fine Lines and Wrinkles

A report released by The American Society of Plastic Surgeons revealed that the coronavirus pandemic and lockdowns didn’t keep almost 8 million Botulinum Toxin Type A (Botox, Dysport, Xeomin) and soft tissue-filler procedures from being performed in 2020. Injectables remain wildly popular as a quick fix for fine lines and wrinkles. “Within 10 minutes to a half hour, I can take seven to 10 years off an appearance with no downtime, other than perhaps some transient swelling,” says cosmetic dermatology expert Dr. Kenneth Mark.

Dr. Patricia Wexler of Wexler Dermatology uses the Aerolase Neo laser as her go-to quick fix for acne. This do-it-all device reduces redness and inflammation, treats active flareups, prevents new ones from forming, and decreases scarring and pigmentation from old breakouts. It’s safe and effective on any skin type and toneand painless, because this shortpulsed laser does not deliver heat to the skin’s surface. The treatment takes 20 to 30 minutes, and results may be visible within a day. Weekly treatments are recommended until stable, but those with severe acne may require at least eight visits.

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