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Aesthetics Practice Today

Neck and Body Contouring with the Velashape III
November 11, 2014 11:15 PM by Kimberly Cray

The VelaShape III is an FDA cleared, non-surgical device proven to effectively reduce cellulite. What makes Velashape III unique is its combination of Bi-Polar Radiofrequency, Infrared Light Energy, and Vacuum and Mechanical Massage, all in one treatment. 

VelaShape III safely contours, shapes and slims the body, allowing patients to achieve a more toned, contoured and well-shaped figure in as few as four treatments. In fact, with the increased energy capacity of this third generation system, noticeable results have even been seen in as few as 1-2 treatments. What's even better is that the process is virtual painless with no downtime.  

This is a new option for patients looking to reduce cellulite and body circumference, as well as to reshape problem areas such as the abdomen and legs. In a clinical multi-center study, 85% of the treated areas reported Circumferential Reduction of thighs of at least 1 cm, ranging up to 7.2 cm in reduction in many patients.

Velashape III incorporates precise heating to ensure safe, effective, and fast treatments. The system utilizes vacuum and specially designed rollers, which mechanically massage the area of cellulite to smooth out the skin and facilitate safe and efficient heat energy delivery. After reaching a specifically targeted temperature, fibroblasts in the dermis promote new collagen production and there is an increase in the metabolism of fat. This treatment increases the metabolism of stored energy, increases lymphatic drainage and reduces the size of the actual fat cells and fat chambers. Velashape III is also safe on all skin types and causes no additional risk to the epidermis. 

Velashape III is also being used to improve a common complaint among patients known as the "double chin." It can improve skin sagging along the neck and chin to create a more toned and natural neckline. Along with body contouring, the neck region is of major concern to patients and a popular treatment to pair with other aesthetic procedures.        

Is your practice utilizing body contouring devices? If so, which devices? I'd love to hear your feedback and clinical experience.

Changing Beauty Routines During Pregnancy
November 4, 2014 4:34 PM by Mina Grasso

Patients become accustomed to their beauty routines, however, during pregnancy, they must be cautioned to avoid certain procedures and products. Some have been proven to be harmful during pregnancy and others lack adequate evidence of safety during pregnancy.

Laser treatments such as laser hair removal, photorejuvenation, laser collagen rejuvenation, radiofrequency, treatment for brown spots or broken capillaries and acne laser treatments should be avoided during pregnancy. Since there are inadequate studies showing safety of laser treatments during pregnancy, many practices just make it a policy not to perform these procedures to avoid medical legal issues. Alternative treatments for skin rejuvenation could include pampering facials, microdermabrasion or micro-needling with or without PRP (platelet rich plasma). Platelet rich plasma utilizes the patient's own plasma (rich in growth factors) to stimulate stem cells in the skin into a repair reponse - rejuvenating the skin.

Facial injectables such as botulinum toxins, BotoxTM and DysportTM, and tissue fillers such as RestylaneTM, JuvedermTM, RadiesseTM, SculptraTM and Artefill should be avoided during pregnancy. The safety of use during pregnancy, again, has not been adequately studied. It is usually recommend patients wait until after breast-feeding to resume treatments with facial injectables.

Certain topical ingredients are suggested to be avoided, especially during the first trimester of pregnancy. However, some routinely avoid during the entire course of pregnancy: retinoids, salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, hydroquinone and kojic acid.  These ingredients can usually be found in creams for acne, hyperpigmentation or wrinkle creams. Pregnant patients can safely use the following ingredients topically: Lactic acid, topical vitamin C or E and topical hyaluronic acid.

Although patients during pregnancy are somewhat limited in their options for skin treatment, their naturally enhanced skin and hair provide the noticeable glow of childbearing.

7 Habits of Highly Effective Skin Care
October 30, 2014 11:15 PM by Kimberly Cray

1.  Less is more.  A common misconception in skin care is that more is better.  In fact, over washing and over doing it with products usually only serves to irritate skin.  Consistency is more important than frequency, in many cases, and when we say pea-sized amount we mean it.   

2.  Know when to skimp vs. splurge.  Sure you could spend a pretty penny on washes and night creams, but if you buy the right product for you, your skin will thank you in the long run.  An added bonus is that your wallet likely will too.  Think of all the Over the Counter products cluttering your vanity.   Medical professionals often recommend great OTCs (we love for patients to save money) and we can also steer you away from products you simply don't need.  Avoid clutter and wasting money on skin care.  Key here- ask a professional.    

3.  There is such a thing as healthy oil.  For years, our culture has been obsessed with all things Oil Free.  Recently there's been a trend towards using oils on the skin for multiple purposes and I love this trend.  Remember, a healthy balance of oil is key.   Let's break the Oil Free stigma.

4.  A healthy lifestyle is key.  Avoid smoking, excessive sun, and make a healthy diet and exercise a priority.  Don't forget to get your beauty sleep.  Yes, there is such a thing.  It is scientifically proven that if we do not get adequate sleep it takes a toll on our skin.  And drink lots of water.  Even the best moisturizers can't touch our skin if we are constantly dehydrated.   

5.  Be open to change.  Like most things, skin changes as we age.  We, therefore, must account for this by making adjustments in our routine.  Maybe it isn't that your "cream stopped working."  It may be that it was no longer right for you.  Change can be hard, but oh so good for you.         

6.  Exfoliating doesn't have to be abrasive.  Many patients only feel like they are exfoliating if they are red and irritated when they are finished.  Using harsh products or using agents too frequently could be detrimental to your skin.  This all ties back to consistency over frequency.  Exfoliating scrubs and masks make patients feel great- that they are doing something extra which will results in something good for their skin.  Unfortunately, this often leads over drying and irritating the skin.  Remember that some of the best exfoliation is done at the microscopic level with proper product application.  

7. Protect your skin, as well as time and investment.  All your hard work will go down the drain if you skip this one simple step.  Some of my favorites include mineral physical sunblocks (say good bye to those harsh and irritating chemicals) and easy to throw in your purse (or man bag) brush versions.  Remember any tanning of the skin is a sign of damage.  Do yourself a favorite and protect yourself.  Unfortunately, we don't see most sun damage until years down the road.  Be proactive and start now, if you haven't already. 

I'll Have What My Friend Had
October 14, 2014 9:32 PM by Kimberly Cray
Just like one pair of jeans may fit someone perfectly, the chances of that same pair being right for the next person that walks through the door are, well, pretty much zero

One of the most important factors in considering an aesthetic treatment is what it will do for your skin. The same treatment that helped a friend may or may not be the best treatment for you. I can't tell you how often people ask for something familiar to them or something they know about through a friend's positive experience.

On the contrary, treatments should be tailored around what is best for a patient- not necessarily what "their friend had" or what is trending at the moment. Now of course, there are important exceptions. I emphasize that while a treatment someone's friend did (and loved) may actually be a great choice for them, it is our job to determine that and go over the best options for each individual patient.

As physician assistants and nurse practitioners, I believe we have the unique job to go the extra mile to make sure we are really educating patients. I find that by taking the time beforehand you avoid miscommunication and provide the most realistic expectations for patients.     

I ask patients what they would like to improve and listen to their concerns. While it seems like such a simple concept, it is easy for a provider to make recommendations based on what our eyes see without also satisfying the patient's desires and not our own. Many patients come wanting to know what we would recommend.  While they want a professional opinion on what they could do to look better, I still think it is important to establish their desires to make sure at the end of the day they are fully satisfied. For example, if a patient is asking about fillers to improve their nasolabial folds (like their friend just had and loved) but they state that what really bothers them are the fine lines around their eyes. Be sure to then educate them on how Botox and great skin care could actually be a better option for them. Use a mirror and show the patient. Have them look on as you describe what the different products do and where they are used. Many people (even those who have had treatments done before) do not know how things like Botox or fillers work. All it takes is a few moments of your time and I guarantee it goes a long way with patients.      

Moral of the story, as a provider be open to treatments that bring patients in. However, always keep in mind that no two patients are exactly the same and it is our job to educate a patient if there is a better option for them to address their specific needs.

Anterior and Posterior Axillary Fat Pad (Armpit Fat)
October 7, 2014 3:23 PM by Mina Grasso
Wardrobe frustrations and an endless search for the perfect bra, spanx or other compression material to conceal fat bulges around the bra go on. A particularly challenging fat bulge is the anterior and posterior axillary fat pad area (armpit fat). This fashion-limiting issue is something that many patients often demand a solution for.

Injectable RF (radiofrequency) using a procedure called Thermi-Tight may be a promising solution for those frustrated with the unwanted bulges and skin laxity.

This injectable RF procedure is a minimally invasive procedure that requires local anesthetic into the area to be treated. A small probe the size of short thin spaghetti is inserted under the skin into the fat. The tip of the probe gradually heats the deeper fat to approximately 70° C. At this temperature, you can actually hear the popping of fat cells as apoptosis occurs. Some practitioners choose to do liposuction instead of or in addition to melting fat with the RF probe.

After the fat is treated, the probe is directed closer to the subdermal layer and slow radial movements are made under the skin, treating a small zone, while attempting to maintain temperatures around 60°-65° C for approximately 10 minutes which promotes skin tightening. As the probe moves through the skin, you are able to see temperature reading through a digital monitor. In addition, a thermal camera is used to monitor the external skin temperature while a light spectrum shows various temperature range (coolest to hottest zones) during the treatment. The hottest spot is highlighted and the monitor has a digital display of average temperature of the zone being treated externally. The goal is to maintain the external temperature to approximate 42°-45°C. The practitioner and the circulating assistant can safely monitor the temperature and minimize damage to the tissue.

A compression garment is usually recommended for 72 hours. Swelling is to be expected as well as some bruising for a few days. Most patients resume regular activities in a couple days. Skin tightening is expected to gradually progress 3, 6, 9 and even up to 12 months.

Practitioners are happy with being able to deliver higher energy levels for more efficacy, while having safety in the temperature control. Patients treated for armpit fat are highly satisfied and are freer to wear straps, strapless or sleeveless fashion.

"I Hate My Neck"
September 9, 2014 3:38 PM by Mina Grasso

Looking in the mirror at submental (under the chin) fat, loose, crepey, puckered skin and tight platysmal bands going down the neck can have a psychological impact. Loss of the definition of the jawline and neck can be from a genetic predisposition, weight gain or aging. It is generally considered aesthetically unappealing.

Most seem to be aware of the surgical (facelift) option with or without liposuction of the submental fat or a platysmaplasty. Surgical procedures are very effective, but some patients may not be candidates due to various medical, social or economic conditions. The rapidly advancing world of light and laser technology in aesthetics during the last 2 decades has introduced patients to a variety of exciting non-surgical options. Pigmentation, texture, broken capillaries, sun damage, fine lines and wrinkles have been treated with various light, laser, radiofrequency and ultrasound devices externally. Most procedures require multiple treatments. Some of these procedures resulted in minimal satisfaction for patients while others depending on severity of condition and patient expectations result in great satisfaction.

Injections for localized fat reduction is performed in some clinics including ours years ago. Often a combination of phosphatidylcholine and deoxycholate is compounded in the formulation. The solution disrupts adipocyte membranes, which leads to adipocytolysis.  This creates an inflammatory response, reduces the fat but causes swelling in the area treated for several days. Other potential side effects include localized pain, bruising and erythema. It is common for patients to report transient numbness and induration post procedure. Multiple treatments are required. These localized fat injections have gone in and out of popularity probably due to lack of well-controlled clinical studies and standardization of formula. There is a proprietary formulation of synthetically derived deoxycholic acid that is currently being studied. In our experience, our patients felt that it was too much downtime per procedure and multiple treatments were required.

Injectable RF (radiofrequency energy) using ThermiTight is a new minimally invasive procedure. Local anesthetic is applied to the neck and jowl. A thin radio frequency probe is inserted under the skin and used to heat the submental fat and surrounding skin while the resulting temperature rise is closely monitored with a special heat-sensing camera. Fat reduction and skin tightening is the end result. Patients are noted to see improvement around 2-3 months but may continue to improve for up to 15 months.

Neurotoxins, such as Botox, have become one of the favorite treatments for the neck. It minimizes necklace lines, softens platysmal bands and helps define the jaw and neckline. Patient satisfaction is extremely high with one or more of the above treatments.

In addressing patient's concern of wanting to improve the appearance of their neck, realistic expectations with results must be carefully discussed. Practitioners have to be sensitive to social downtime and accurately describe the post-procedure time frame and possible complications. Satisfaction is highest using a combination of modalities while keeping in mind the patient's budget.

Thermi-Tight Injectable RF
August 13, 2014 3:46 PM by Mina Grasso

Before non-surgical skin tightening was available, the only option to address loose skin was to surgically remove it. Thermage, a non-surgical procedure utilizing mono-polar radiofrequency, provided an option for those wanting to avoid the surgery. This is accomplished by heating the skin externally to a temperature that would stimulate collagen fiber contraction. For those not expecting a "surgical result", repeated treatments over the years kept them happy. For many, the results were just not good enough.

Over the last two decades aesthetic laser industries introduced hundreds of non-ablative skin-tightening and skin rejuvenation devices. There was just no "in-between" until laser lipolysis and skin tightening using Cool-LipoTM and Smart-LipoTM Lasers were developed. These were considered minimally invasive skin-tightening surgical procedures that were performed in the office. After local anesthetic is administered in the area to be treated, a laser is then inserted under the skin delivering heat. Using the laser to heat the area would result in lipolysis and skin tightening.

Temperature control was the issue with these devices. External infra red thermometers were required to monitor the temperature. Temperature readings would vary on the distance and angle of the thermometer. Some lasers had thermistors on the laser but not at the tip where the energy was delivered. Due to inconsistencies of temperature monitoring, complications such as burns would occur with excess heat delivered with delayed temperature registering. For extra safety in monitoring, we would routinely utilize 2 staff members, each with an external infrared thermometer for temperature control. Temperature control was the issue. Over-heating or under-heating could potentially result in a burn or suboptimal results.

Comprehensive thermoregulation integrating continuous subsurface and epidermal temperature monitoring is now possible using the Thermi-Tight Injectable RF. This technology will be the game changer for minimally invasive skin tightening. Skin temperatures can now be monitored precisely using a platform that incorporates state of the art infrared imaging camera allowing for visual clinical end-points, which contributes to the overall safety. Injectable RF, radiofrequency energy can be applied using proprietary cannulas with a thermistor at the tip to measure the precise temperature of the target tissue. The proprietary cannula can be set to shut off when the desired temperature is achieved. Controlled heat can be delivered to targeted tissue using the precise level of external and subsurface tissue monitoring without risking epidermal damage. 

Patients that are attracted to Thermi-Tight Injectable RF are usually those that are "in-between". They have minimal downtime. They are not quite ready for a surgical procedure and feel that results of a non-surgical skin tightening procedure will not be enough for them.

Patient's who desire minimally invasive skin tightening with very little downtime can now benefit from Thermi-Tight Injectable RF with added safety due to the comprehensive thermoregulation. Practitioners can provide safer more consistent results and have more satisfied patients.

Artefill: Immediate Gratification with Lasting Results
August 5, 2014 9:16 AM by Mina Grasso

The most common complaint patients have about tissue fillers is that they don't last long enough. Some patients don't like the idea having to return in 6-12 months to have repeated injections.

ArteFill is an injectable filler that provides long-lasting wrinkle and volume correction. ArteFill differs from other tissue fillers currently available. It is made up of 20% Polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) and 80% bovine collagen. PMMA, used for over 60 years, is one of the most biocompatible synthetic materials in the world. It is used as bone fillers, intraocular and dental applications. ArteFill is a matrix of biocompatible microspheres combined with bovine collagen. Because the collagen is denatured and processed without cross-linking or telopeptides, it provides low immunogenicity.

Immediate results are seen after injection, and over time ArtFill works to produce the body's own collagen within the matrix and provides long-lasting support. The natural collagen that is created helps strengthen the layers that support the skin resulting in longer lasting support of the wrinkle or volume correction.

ArteFill is not a new filler. We entertained offering ArteFill when it was first FDA-approved in 2006 for nasal labial folds. At that time, we decided to hold off due to reports of patients developing granulomas. Seven years later, with over 300,000 syringes used globally and with ArteFill's safety profile showing comparable to the many tissues fillers currently available, we decided to bring it back. Expert injectors have used ArteFill for many applications with a global approach to facial volume rejuvenation and treatment of acne scars. Patients who have experienced shorter duration tissue fillers have been very satisfied with immediate gratification of ArteFill and longer lasting results.

Acne Scars
July 22, 2014 10:21 AM by Mina Grasso

Acne scars may present in a variety of ways. The technical names are boxcar acne scars, ice pick acne scars, rolling acne scars, hypertrophic and keloid scars. Patients can present with a combination of these types of scars. 


Treatment of acne scars also varies with the presentation of the scars. The more challenging acne scars to treat are boxcar scars and ice pick scars. Boxcar scars have more defined edges that appear like a box. Ice pick scars appear as small pits or enlarged pores on the skin. Hypertrophic and keloid scars are raised areas that are well defined or go beyond the boundary of the scar.


A series of chemical peels treating the entire face and then spot treating the actual boxcar scar or ice pick with higher TCA concentrations directly into the scar or angled borders can be very effective in some patients.


Fractional laser resurfacing is probably the most popular service offered for acne scars in our practice. The degree of correction is sometimes limited in darker skin types as lower energy levels must be used to prevent post inflammatory hyperpigmentation. A series of micro-needling sessions has proven to be an effective treatment for some patients.


Patients with depressed acne scars treated with dermal fillers are often highly satisfied with results especially if most of the scars are rolling scars without defined sharp borders. Dermal fillers can improve the scarring appearance significantly especially when there is underlying volume loss.


Since the days of bovine collagen, more dermal fillers have been developed. There are a variety of hyaluronic acid fillers. The following are the most common: Belotero, Restylane, Perlane, Juvederm and Voluma. These HA fillers vary in consistency and duration of action depending on the cross-linking of the molecular structure. The higher degree of cross-linking, the longer it takes the body to break it down. For more shallow scars Belotero, Restylane and Juvederm do well. Deeper scars can be treated with Voluma, the newest hyaluronic acid introduced  in 2013. Although Voluma can last up to 2 years, results with these dermal fillers are still temporary.


The best news is that there may be hope for a more permanent solution to acne scars using ArteFill. Artefill is a lasting dermal filler approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2006 for the correction of the nasolabial folds commonly known as "smile lines." A pivotal study is showing significant improvement in treating moderate to severe atrophic acne. Clinicians who have been injecting ArteFill since 2006 report impressive results that they had not been able to achieve in treating acne scars in the past.

Temporal Fossa Augmentation
July 15, 2014 3:46 PM by Mina Grasso
With the increasing popularity of tissue fillers, patients are looking more youthful in the mid and lower face. When looking at patients with volume augmentation of the mid and lower face, there can be a disruption in the frame of the face where the temporal fossa are hollow and overlooked. The temporal fossa is located just above the cheekbones behind the lateral orbital rim.   

As we age, the temporal bone becomes more concave. The temporal fat pad and overlying temporal muscle size diminishes. The youthful convex shape of the temples transforms to a more concave and hollow contour. This area appears more skeleton-like when the bony margins of the zygomatic arch appear more prominent. This skeleton-like appearance is associated with aging or poor health.

Hairstyles have been altered to camouflage the temporal hollows. Augmentation of the temporal fossa can improve the facial contour; create a healthier, more balanced, natural appearance. 

Soft tissue augmentation can be accomplished with autologous fat transfer. However, most patients seeking this treatment are usually limited in fat stores. Athletic women who maintain low body fat are the ones that most commonly request this procedure in our clinic. Various tissue fillers such as Radiesse (calcium hydroxylapatite) and hyaluronic acids which include: Restylane, Perlane, Juvederm have well-established benefits and have approximately one year duration of action. These fillers can provide an immediate improvement of the hollowed temples. Sculptra (poly-l-lactic acid), a bio-stimulator of collagen. It requires multiple treatments but provides long lasting results of up to two years. 

Advanced training on injection techniques is required for augmenting the temporal fossa. Various techniques are utilized for soft tissue augmentation using the various products. Traditional use of needles to deliver the product using a depot, fanning or cross-hatching techniques are popular. Risks include hematoma, vessel occlusion or emboli, nerve damage, numbness and infection. Some prefer to use a blunt tip cannula to avoid some of these issues. When using a blunt tip cannula, caution is needed to avoid linear tracks that can be visible when product is placed too superficially. 

When examining a patient for facial rejuvenation, evaluate the temporal area for hollowing. Safe and effective treatment is now available for this area that has often been overlooked.

Lower Face and Neck Beauty Secret
July 1, 2014 10:55 AM by Mina Grasso
Over time with genetic influences and facial expression, we see changes in the appearance lower face and neck. Complaints include worsening of a crease on the chin under the lower lip, dimpling of the chin, a sad or angry appearance of the corners of the lips, jowls worsening and loss of definition of the jaw and neckline. It is common to hear patients complain that they are starting to look like their mother or father.

A non-surgical approach we offer in our clinic is treatment of these areas with a neuromodulator like Botox or Dysport. The crease between the lower lip and base of the chin is a result of strong muscles of the chin that pulls up and inward. As patients age they lose volume in the chin and dimpling is seen when the patient animates. Treatment of the mid chin with a neuromodulator can help relax the horizontal crease and reduce the appearance of the dimpling.

The down-turned corners of the mouth create a sad or angry look caused by the depressor anguli oris muscle pulling down over time. Relaxing these muscles with a neuromodulator causes relaxation of the muscles and creates a lift of the corners of the lips.

Volume loss in the mid and upper cheek causes tissue to descend and creates the jowls. The platysmal muscles of neck pull down and tension increases which results in the appearance of the vertical platysmal neckbands with animation. Patients usually grab under the chin at the angle of the neck and ask, "What can you do with this?" In addition, horizontal necklace lines and puckered crepe-like skin on the central part of the neck can develop with aging. Within a few days of treatment, neuromodulators can improve the definition of the jaw and neckline resulting in relaxation of the tensed bands, which allows the muscles to lift up. The necklace lines across the neck appear softer and the puckering of the central neck smooths out. With this simple office procedure with virtually no downtime patients can enjoy the benefits of this beauty secret for several months.

6 Nutrients for Maintaining Youthful Skin
June 24, 2014 2:34 PM by Mina Grasso

Various nutrients and antioxidants have been identified to benefit overall health. These nutrients and antioxidants are also essential for maintaining youthful skin vitality. Eating foods rich in antioxidants and supplementing with these nutrients can help protect against free radicals. Free radicals can potentially damage DNA and can lead to cancer. Topical application of these nutrients and antioxidants to the skin can help repair damage and slow the aging process and improve skin vitality. Some of the key nutrients and antioxidants include:

Alpha-Lipoic Acid improves immune function and neutralizes free radical formation. It increases collagen content in the skin. Alpha-lipoic acid diminishes fine lines and gives skin a healthy glow. It helps recycle and boosts levels of other antioxidants such as vitamin C. Because of its ability to enter all parts of a skin cell, it is believed that alpha-lipoic acid can provide more protection than other antioxidants against free radicals that can damage the skin.

Coenzyme Q-10 is an enzyme that enhances effects of other enzymes.  It   produces energy in the cell and enhances regeneration of vitamin E.  CO Q-10 speeds up the rate of natural chemical reactions in cells to make energy needed for the cells to grow. It assists fibroblasts in producing more collagen and elastin.

Green Tea contains nutrients loaded with antioxidants and polyphenols that have been shown to fight free radicals. Applied topically, green tea may protect fibroblasts from UVB exposure and reduce the damaging effects of the sun and protect against skin cancer.  Using green tea in conjunction with sunscreen can enhance sun protection.

Hyaluronic Acid is a natural substance found in the body. It is found in high concentrations in the eye and joints. In the aesthetic world, hyaluronic acid is used as tissue filler. Hyaluronic acid produces volume, fullness and helps to provide moisture. It has been used on the skin for wound healing, burns, skin ulcers and used as a moisturizer.

Vitamin E supports immunity and healthy skin. Vitamin E is also an antioxidant that protects cells from damage.  It decreases skin roughness and wrinkle depth when applied topically.

Pomegranate Extract: The antioxidants in pomegranates include polyphenols such as tannins and anthocyanins. There are many reported benefits of eating the fruit or drinking the juice of pomegranate. Pomegranate extract from the peel of the fruit promotes regeneration and thickening of epidermal cells and enhances dermal repair.

Permanent Makeup Can Enhance The Appearance of Thinning Lips
June 17, 2014 11:29 AM by Mina Grasso

The process of aging and genetics can result in the lips losing volume and structure.  Some patients completely lose the appearance of their lips when they smile.  With most patients, injection of hyaluronic acid fillers like Restylane, Perlane or Juvederm can replace volume that was lost over time and improve the appearance of their smile.  Unfortunately, this is not successful 100% of the time.

I have had a few challenging patients that due to the structure of their upper lip and elongation of the skin from the base of the nose to the upper lip did not result in the desired effect.  These patients had no improvement in lip show when they smiled.

One approach I have taken with these challenging lips is using micro-pigmentation (permanent makeup) to give the illusion of lip tissue above their natural lip line.  Full lip color can be applied and blended into the lips to give a natural fuller lip appearance.

Patients are sometimes reluctant to do permanent makeup, because they may have seen unsightly dramatic eyebrows or dark lip liner without lip color.  Fear of pain may be a factor.  I do a dental block so patients are comfortable during the procedure and I am able to do several passes to work the color into the lips evenly.  The shape of the lips can be drawn prior to procedure so the patient knows what it will look like after the procedure.  A variety of colors are available ranging from nearly nude to a mauve or merlot.  Skin type is taken into consideration and adjusted for depending on the tone of their skin.  The same lip color can be applied to10 people and look slightly different.

Micro-pigmentation (permanent makeup) requires touch ups.  The pigment does fade over time.  Colors can be changed.  The color is much brighter the first five days.  Swelling, scabbing and peeling is expected.  Prophylactic antivirals are recommended starting the day before treatment and for 3 days after the procedure, because HSV – cold sores can occur post procedure.

Those with lips that disappear when they smile usually say they wished they did permanent makeup years ago.  Most patients just apply a clear gloss of chap stick with SPF instead of lipstick.  Patient satisfaction is extremely high.

An Effective Option for Melasma
June 4, 2014 9:50 AM by Mina Grasso
Frequently, women present to our clinic with melasma. Patches of dark pigmentation that often present symmetrically on the cheeks, upper lip and/or forehead characterize melasma. Excessive melanin production is stimulated by excessive sun exposure, heat or hormonal changes. The onset of melasma is often associated with hormonal shifts such as use of birth control pills, pregnancy or menopause.

Worsening of melasma can occur with overstimulation of melanocytes. Excessive sun exposure is the most common cause. Some patients who seek treatment with some laser treatment, chemical peel or waxing find that they have increased pigmentation after these procedures. Physical exposure to heat is reported to play a role in worsening symptoms as well. Women who report avoiding sun exposure but are exposed to environmental heat such that found in the workplace present with worsening melasma.

At this year's American Society of Laser Medicine & Science, many experts discussed their success with laser toning. Laser toning utilizes a 1064-nm wavelength laser that targets the melanin in the cells and breaks it up gradually. Multiple passes are required to target the amount of pigment in the tissue. Laser toning reduces the appearance of melasma and evens out skin tone without downtime. Patients will experience heating of the skin with light, prickly, snapping sensation. It is a comfortable procedure and is safe for most skin types.

Long-lasting results are obtained with multiple treatments. Patients need to be informed that improvement is gradual. The number of treatments needed depends on the severity of their condition.

Laser toning does provide long-lasting results but cannot be claimed as a cure for melasma. A tailored skin care regimen, sun protection and minimizing heat exposure are essential factors leading to the success of treatment and maintenance of results.






Financing That Aesthetic Procedure
May 29, 2014 8:52 AM by Kimberly Cray
Are financial reasons keeping some of your patients from proceeding with an aesthetic procedure? Many patients may be unaware of great options that are out there that could aid in obtaining the aesthetic treatments they desire.


CareCredit is a financing option for health, beauty and wellness expenses. CareCredit is a great option for patients and can make treatments otherwise not possible very possible.

As the website states, CareCredit is a credit card. As with all credit cards, if you do not make your monthly payment on time, or miss a payment, you will incur a much higher interest rate and potential fees. Therefore, in order to use CareCredit efficiently, and to avoid high interest rates, it is important that you make your minimum monthly payment and pay off your balance by the agreed upon due date.

The CareCredit website is easy to navigate and can be used to find participating providers and learn about how the credit card works. They offer financing options such as "no interest if paid in full within 6, 12, 18 or 24 months (on qualifying purchases of $200 or more)." So for many people this could be a great option for having a treatment done now and paying it off over time without accruing any interest.

To learn more visit: http://www.carecredit.com/


Brilliant Distinctions

Brilliant Distinctions is a rewards program offered by Allergan. It is not a credit card. Think of this as similar to the many rewards cards we are offered at practically every retail store we go to. I think it makes great sense for patients who use Allergan products, especially fillers (such as Juvederm and Juvederm Voluma), Botox and skin care, because you gain points to use toward future purchases. There is no fee -- you get rewarded with points to use for later purchases.

Our patients really love this rewards program and their App that works on all mobile devices.

To learn more visit: https://www.brilliantdistinctionsprogram.com/

In Office Promotions

Many offices offer specials or introductory rates for new patients. Some offices also reward patients for referring new patients. Not sure? Ask! It can't hurt to see if the office wants to accommodate you and work with you to achieve your aesthetic goals.



About this Blog

    Occupation: Physician Assistant/Nurse Practitioner
    Setting: Miami & Upland, Calif.
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