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April 2006 Issue

Medical skin care specialist Cathy Fricke (left) conducts a skin analysis on a patient.
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Scientific Skin-Care Plan Can Reduce Damage

By Amanda Harper
Published April 2006

When it comes to your skin care, taking a scientific approach may be just what the doctor ordered. UC cosmetic surgeons say adopting a skin-care plan based on scientific measurements can improve the look and feel of your skin, without disrupting your life.

It’s like having a personal trainer for your skin,” explains John Kitzmiller MD, chief of plastic surgery and associate professor of surgery at UC. “You quantify the problem, define goals, make a plan and then establish a routine.”

That routine should ideally include a combination of exfoliating chemical peels, which remove dead skin cells and stimulate new growth, and daily facial products that clean and moisturize the skin.

Dr. Kitzmiller and his team use a complexion analysis system to identify problem areas of the skin—such as sun spots, ultraviolet damage, fine lines or wrinkles— that need correction. Using sophisticated photography and measurement calculations, the system can provide useful information about skin tone, texture and bacteria in the skin to guide treatment.

“By creating a skin-care plan based on scientific measurements, we're able to accurately pinpoint and treat specific problem areas,” says Dr. Kitzmiller.  “After two months of treatment, we can revisit the plan to see if we’re getting effects we want. If not, we can tweak treatment based on the updated measurements.”

He says surface chemical peels are an effective alternative for people who want to reduce damage from  “early aging” without a large time investment. Surface chemical peels—also  called “micropeels”—use a light acid to gently remove dead cells and refine texture on the top layer of skin. Once the damaged cells are removed, new smooth skin can emerge.

“People notice when their top layer of skin is exfoliated, because it looks and feels smoother,” says Dr. Kitzmiller. “The key is creating a skin-care plan that fits into your daily life.”

Micropeels can be used on all skin types and take only about 15 minutes. Usually they are done in a series of four to six treatments every two weeks. Once initial treatment is complete, the peels are typically done every two months. The treatment can also help minimize acne, says Dr. Kitzmiller, when used in conjunction with topical medications like Retin-A cream (tretinoin).

“The important thing,” says Dr. Kitzmiller, “is that you find a balance that works for you.”

Regardless of your skin-care regimen, Dr. Kitzmiller says that everyone should watch for skin changes that may be indicative of cancer.

According the American Cancer Society, more than 1 million people will be diagnosed with squamous or basal cell skin cancer in 2006.

Dr. Kitzmiller recommends that everyone—especially fairskinned individuals—wear SPF 15  sunscreen when out in the sun to prevent overexposure and skin cancer.

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