How reasonable are our expectations? When I start patients on a new skin care regimen I want them to be excited about it, but at the same time, I educate patients about what they should expect from their skin care regimen, and when the result will become noticeable. Expecting perfection is not realistic, expecting improvement is. Honesty is an asset; over-promising to today’s educated patient is a liability.
In order to have realistic expectations about their prospective improvements, patients need to understand what processes are taking place within the skin at each step during the course of the treatment. It is important to stress that these processes will take TIME. I often have to remind patients that it took so many years to accumulate the skin damage, so it will take some time (and commitment) to fix it. Depending on the patient’s pre-treatment skin condition, the time and the degree of improvement will vary substantially.
It is clinically proven that skin improvement from anti-aging products that contain antioxidants and growth factors, as well as laser treatments and chemical peels, require some time to build up. For example, laser treatments and chemical peels initially create inflammation in the skin, but as the skin heals, a number of beneficial changes occur. The first signs of improvement, such as more even skin colour, smoother texture, and reduction in hyperpigmentation, can be seen as soon as 2 weeks after the procedure. On the other hand, the changes within the skin, dermal regeneration, such as: collagen stimulation, re-orientation of new skin connective tissue and skin tightening can take several months.
And, these changes are gradual; they will not appear overnight. Since we are looking in the mirror (sometimes a magnifying mirror) every day in anticipation of improvement, those steady changes often are not that easy to see. I always take pre-treatment photographs, which help me objectively evaluate the patient’s progress, and also give the patient a chance to compare.
The improvements seen from anti-aging skin care products are even more gradual than with procedures. To see the effect of the product, you have to use it for at least several weeks, and some products require three to six months. Ask yourself: have I given it enough time for the product to work?
The answer to better skin is not a “magic potion”, and it doesn’t come solely in a pill from your doctor. A scientifically-based approach to addressing your skin care concerns, often layering home care with in-clinic procedures will help to return skin to its best possible state. Paired with compliance and patience, the compliments are sure to come.
~ Sheri Roselle, Medical Esthetician at Toronto Dermatology Centre