Summer is here. We look forward to it all year and with those long vacations as well as summer Fridays, it can be the perfect time to fit some cosmetic treatments into our busy schedules.But before you book, there are certain procedures you should avoid this time of year. Some treatments can cause sensitivity to sunlight and the higher temperatures can actually delay the healing process in some others. Steer clear of these five treatments and with anything else, check with your provider before undergoing any cosmetic treatment.
1. Chemical Peels
Chemical peels remove the dead layers of skin cells to improve the skin’s overall appearance. In other words, they're really powerful exfoliants. Typically, a board certified dermatologist will apply a chemical solution tailored to the needs to your face. Next, the top layer of the skin will shed off, revealing a new layer underneath. As a result, patients will have fresher and smoother-looking skin within a quick span of time. Chemical peels are ideal for those who suffer from acne scars, sun spots, discoloration, and general signs of aging.
While that sounds great, why shouldn't you get one during the summer? According to board certified dermatologist Cheryl Karcher, MD, “a chemical peel removes the dead skin of your epidermis or outer layer of skin, which makes the skin underneath more sensitive to the sun. Sun exposure can cause hyperpigmentation and can take many months to go away.”
After a light chemical peel, the skin will flake on days three and four and Dr. Karcher suggests not going into the sun for at least two weeks. After that, she advises patients to wear an SPF with a minimum of 50 every day. We understand though that sometimes you just need to get a chemical peel during the summer. If that is the case, there are a few precautions you can take. First, apply sunscreen liberally throughout the day and try to avoid the sun when possible. Keep in mind that you can burn at all hours of the day, even when you think you are protected by clouds or the windows of your car. Second, assuming you work an office job, try to book your treatment earlier in the week. That way, when the weekend comes around, your skin will not be as sensitive. Lastly, consider opting for a “light” rather than a “deep” chemical peel. A light chemical peel only removes the most superficial layer of skin, unlike a deep chemical peel that removes the mid and lower layer of skin cells as well. Because a light chemical peel is much less powerful, it has a shorter downtime period, meaning you can enjoy the sun sooner. On the flip side, it does require more maintenance.
2. Laser Hair Removal
Laser hair removal is a great option for those looking to remove unwanted hair. Not having to shave or worry about unwanted hair can be really life-changing, but there are certain times of year that are better than others for undergoing laser hair removal. The treatment works by pulsating highly concentrated light deep into the skin, which the hair’s pigment absorbs. This heat kills the hair follicle and prevents further hair growth. The laser responds to pigment, so having a stronger contrast between the skin and hair color yields higher results.
This is exactly why it's not ideal for summer months: sun exposure can negatively affect the procedure’s efficacy. People have more tanned, freckled, or even sunburnt skin during the summer months and, as a result, the laser may not work as well. “The laser is carefully calibrated to deliver energy to the hair and not the surrounding skin," says Dr. Karcher. "However, if there is another pigment present in the skin from sun exposure, that will be picked up by the laser too. This can result in unwanted lightening or darkening of the skin." Sun exposure after the laser treatments can cause darkening as well, since skin that's been treated with a laser is more sensitive.
Sunburns can result in skin damage and discoloration, which will cost even more money to correct. Dr. Karcher recommends patients avoid the sun for at least two weeks before after laser hair removal or only undergo treatment on areas that are not exposed to the sun, like the underarms.
3. Prescription Retinoids
Retinoids are a helpful skincare solution to many common problems like acne, warts, fine lines, and psoriasis. While these vitamin A derivatives are quite effective, they commonly irritate your skin, make it more sensitive to sunlight, and can cause sun damage. “If any skin irritation is present, you should avoid the sun due to potential hyperpigmentation, or darkening of the skin,” Dr. Karcher explains.
As a result, it is recommended that people go lighter on prescription retinoids (Retin A) over the summer or choose over-the-counter versions (retinols), which have a lower concentration of retinoic acid. It is suggested that people using retinoids avoid the sun as much as possible and take sun protection seriously. This includes applying sunscreen liberally, choosing a sunscreen with SPF 50 or higher, wearing protective clothing, and applying moisturizer to prevent excessive dryness.
Sclerotherapy is a cosmetic procedure that eliminates unwanted varicose and spider veins. The treatment involves injecting a solution into the vein that will cause the lining of the blood vessel to collapse.
It sounds ideal for swimsuit season, but after the procedure, many patients experience physical side effects that they may not want to show during the summer months. For instance, the veins can become lumpy and more prominent for a few months before they dissolve and fade away. Additionally, discoloration in the form of spotting and ruptured blood vessels can appear and take several months to fade.
Board certified plastic surgeon David Rapaport, MD explains that because sclerotherapy involves stimulating a blood clot inside the vein, there can be bruising within the veins for over six weeks. “It is possible to have the patient come back approximately 10 days after Sclerotherapy to literally puncture the treated veins and squeeze the blood out,” Dr. Rapaport says. “Nonetheless, there is a real possibility of bruising lasting for up to six weeks following the treatment."
While discoloration and scarring are part of most procedures, sclerotherapy also requires patients to wear compression hosiery for about a week. They are worn to reduce bruising caused by the injections and to keep the veins compressed while they recover from the procedure. While they are not worn for too long, the compression stockings can be hot and uncomfortable, especially during the summer months.
Liposuction is one of the most effective ways to get rid of unwanted fat cells. While patients do see immediate results with liposuction compared to other body contouring procedures, they may not be able to show it off for several weeks. Liposuction requires patients to wear support bandages afterward, which can be a nuisance during the summer months. While it depends on the patient and the area being treated, the compression bandage can be necessary for up to a few weeks depending on how long it takes for the swelling to fully subside.
Dr. Rapaport explains that areas higher up on the body heal faster. “Specifically, the submental or neck area tends to heal faster than areas that are lower on the body,” he says. “It is unusual to have swelling beyond three or so days following neck liposuction.” With that in mind, patients may want to book their appointments before summer to ensure that they will be ready to show off their new body.
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