All posts by Western Dermatology Consultants

CoolSculpting® vs. CoolSculpting® Elite: What’s the Difference?

Given recent advances in the fat-freezing technology, the question many of our patients have been asking is: What is the difference between CoolSculpting® and CoolSculpting® Elite? Here’s what Albuquerque, NM, patients should know about these treatments if they’re trying to determine which one is best for them. 

CoolSculpting® is a non-surgical body contouring technique that solves the problem of localized fat bulges by killing fat cells in isolated areas of the body—without affecting surrounding tissues. A newer version of the treatment is called CoolSculpting® Elite.

The two procedures work the same way: by cooling fat cells beneath the skin to a temperature that causes them to freeze. Once the cells have been killed, they are flushed out of the body by natural metabolic processes. 

This is an effective treatment strategy because even after losing weight and reducing that number on the scale through healthy lifestyle changes, it can still be difficult to get the body shape you’ve always wanted. Spot reduction—which is the theory that you can target fat loss on specific body parts by doing exercises, such as crunches to get flat abs—has been disproven. Doing exercises on specific areas can indeed enhance the shape and build muscles on those areas, but when we lose fat by creating a calorie deficit, energy is drawn from the body as a whole rather than only the areas you’re working on. That means you’re not guaranteed to lose fat from those areas.

Both types of CoolSculpting® do help to reduce this type of fat. There are some differences between the treatments, however.

CoolSculpting® Elite offers enhanced fat reduction results when compared to traditional CoolSculpting®. This is because of the more compact and efficient design of the machine. The newer design features C-shaped cup applicators as opposed to the U-shaped applicators of traditional CoolSculpting® devices. The C shape provides better tissue contact, increased suction, more even cooling, and faster treatment times. In fact, the C-shaped applicators can treat up to 18 percent more surface area at one time. Additionally, due to the dual applicator capacity of CoolSculpting® Elite, two areas can be treated simultaneously during a single treatment to double the results in half the time. 

Want to know more about the difference between CoolSculpting® and CoolSculpting® Elite? The team at the Spa @ Western Dermatology Consultants can explain more about how these treatments work. Call us at 505-855-9267 or submit a contact form to schedule a consultation. 

Why Facial Exercises Don’t Help with Wrinkles

The concept of “exercising” the face to reduce signs of aging has become very popular in recent times and has been promoted by many celebrities. As our skin loses elasticity over time, it can be challenging to maintain a youthful appearance, so many people are searching for new ways to maintain supple, smooth skin. Those people also tend to prefer solutions that are as natural as possible. Certain facial exercises are supposedly designed to slim the cheeks and reduce wrinkles, and supporters of this method believe that by strengthening muscles you add definition to the face to counteract the deflation of skin. In reality, there is little to no scientific evidence showing that these exercises help you achieve any improvement. The truth is that these facial exercises should not be thought of as a replacement for wrinkle relaxers. As our Albuquerque-based team puts it: They’re ultimately just a fad. In fact, dermatologists know that these exercises won’t have any benefit—and can actually do more harm than good.

We know that regularly exercising other areas of the body keeps us fit and looking younger. For people who want slimmer, more defined cheeks, however, repetitive muscle movements won’t be of any help. While exercise strengthens muscles and burns calories, we can’t control where those calories come from. In other words, we can’t determine from where we lose fat. As spot reduction isn’t possible, exercising the face won’t make the cheeks smaller. Even if the muscles temporarily become bigger, the effect is only temporary. 

When it comes to wrinkles, facial exercises may also have the undesirable effect of making the face look older. Facial muscles are attached to the skin and stretch it in various directions. Since muscle movement is what causes many wrinkles to form in the first place, the repetitive contractions from movements such as frowning, smiling, or pursing the lips may only cause wrinkles to develop at a faster rate or make existing lines deeper and more visible. 

The better thing to do is find your most relaxed facial expression and focus on maintaining that. Moisturize, apply sunscreen each day, and use BOTOX® to relax overworked facial muscles. 

For more information, contact The Spa @ Western Dermatology Consultants. Call 505-855-9267 or submit a contact formto meet with us.

What’s the Best Way to Treat Laugh Lines?

Vertical lines that located on either side of the mouth are often called smile lines or laugh lines—because they’re most noticeable when you’re smiling and laughing—but the technical term for them is nasolabial folds. These lines develop between the bottom of the nose and corners of the mouth, and their severity varies from person to person. Dermatologists can help you find the best technique for treating your nasolabial folds based on their severity and what’s causing them to deepen. There are several types of skin treatments—including hyaluronic acid facial fillers at our Albuquerque, NM, practice—that can help make these wrinkles less noticeable. 

Nasolabial folds are perfectly normal. In fact, almost everyone has these facial features (except for newborns and people who have certain medical conditions) so you wouldn’t want them to be completely erased, as it would look unnatural. The most common causes include sun damage, deficiency of collagen due to aging, a loss of fat, and frequent facial expressions like smiling.

The folds themselves contain dense bundles of fibrous tissue and muscle. For many, these laugh lines are no laughing matter as they become more prominent as time goes by, and the tissue becomes thinner while losing its elasticity. Fortunately, there are plenty of solutions for correcting them if you would like yours to be less pronounced. 

Although they don’t require treatment and aren’t a sign of a medical condition, some people prefer a smoother appearance without the folds. While minimally invasive treatments can’t get rid of them completely, injectables can enhance the skin and make the lines appear less pronounced. Facial fillers are soft gels that blend in beneath the skin and reduce the severity of nasolabial folds by giving the skin a more youthful, volumized, and lifted appearance.

When treating nasolabial folds, fillers can be injected to smooth out wrinkles or in the upper cheek area to provide a subtle lift. Skin resurfacing techniques like laser skin resurfacing and microdermabrasion can also improve the overall appearance of the skin to offset the appearance of laugh lines. 

Temporary facial fillers from The Spa @ Western Dermatology Consultants reduce different types of moderate to severe wrinkles, including nasolabial folds. Call us at 505-855-9267 or submit a contact form if you’re ready to schedule a consultation. 

How to Identify Signs of Sun Damage on Your Skin

We provide skin resurfacing at our Albuquerque, NM-based practice as a way of improving the health and appearance of skin that has been damaged by overexposure to sunlight or other stressors, such as smoking. Prolonged, unprotected sun exposure is a sure-fire way to cause lasting damage to one’s skin. This is because the sun’s rays penetrate beneath the surface and can reach the deepest parts of the skin to warp the DNA itself.

That doesn’t mean sun damage is always easy to detect, however. Your complexion might look quite clear and almost flawless in the mirror, but there can still be damage. Remember that sun damage occurs in different forms, and even if you don’t get sunburned in a noticeable way, your skin could still be being damaged in other ways. Not to mention, many signs of sun damage take time—sometimes many years—before they can be seen on the surface because UV rays are damaging it at such a deep level. 

Some of the most common signs and symptoms associated with UV damage include:

Uneven Pigmentation

An increased production of melanin (the pigment that gives color to your skin) occurs as the skin attempts to protect itself against UV rays. This can give your skin isolated spots, freckles, or a mottled and blotchy appearance if the excess pigment forms in an uneven way. 

Tan

Dermatologists often stress that there’s no such thing as a “healthy” tan or a “base tan.” Whenever your skin’s natural color changes, this is a symptom of some type of skin damage. 

Worsening Melasma

Melasma is a condition that causes patches of skin on the forehead and cheeks to turn brown. It can also cause blue-gray patches or spots that look like freckles. Melasma is made worse by sun exposure because the UV rays increase the activity of cells that produce pigment. 

Liver Spots

Flat spots with a tan, brown, or dark brown color that are a deeper shade than freckles may occur on sun-exposed areas. They are typically round or oval in shape and form in different sizes. They are non-cancerous, but you can choose to lighten them for cosmetic reasons. 

Remember that sun damage can also cause cancers to develop, so be sure to watch for more obvious signs, such as awkward-looking or evolving moles, crusty patches that bleed or never heal, and areas that are sensitive or painful to the touch.

Get a clearer, healthier, more flawless skin tone by taking steps to prevent sun damage—and by choosing skin resurfacing from The Spa @ Western Dermatology Consultants. Call us at 505-855-9267 or submit a contact form to get started. 

Should I Be Using Face Oils?

Chances are good that you already know all about moisturizers and serums for making your skin softer, nourished, and balanced, but face oils are a more recent and trendy way to enhance the skin that you may not be including in your daily care routine. Indeed, they might be exactly what you need to counteract dry skin. For our Albuquerque-area patients who visit The Spa @ Western Dermatology Consultants, dry skin is a common complaint because of the low levels of humidity common to this area. 

When atmospheric humidity levels are low, moisture is zapped from the upper levels of the skin, resulting in symptoms such as roughness, flaking, cracking, itching, tightness, redness, and fine lines. Some patients may even develop deep cracks that bleed. Moisturizers and serums are critical for alleviating the dryness, but face oils are something that many people tend to forget about or overlook. These products, which typically contain a combination of plant-based oils, work by adding moisture to the skin and sealing in hydration. 

Face oils are a type of emollient, meaning they provide support for the skin’s outermost layer, called the stratum corneum. Plenty of people are hesitant to use them because they assume that the oils will cause bad acne breakouts, but this is far from the case. Whether you have an oily skin type naturally, are only experiencing dry skin during certain types of weather, or always have dry skin, face oils may have some benefits. 

Give Your Skin a Boost of Moisture

A face oil will enhance the moisturizing effects of the creams or serums you’re already using. They’re ideal for relieving dry skin during the winter months. If you use a face oil after a moisturizer, it locks in the hydration from the other products so that your skin retains it better. In fact, oils generally work better than moisturizers. 

Soften Wrinkles 

Face oils also contain nourishment of their own such as antioxidants that help to counteract the effects of free radical damage. This will improve sun damage or other conditions such as dryness and wrinkles. 

Want healthy, glowing skin all year round? Learn about other ways to manage chronically dry skin from The Spa @ Western Dermatology Consultants. Call us at 505-855-9267 or submit a contact form to schedule a consultation and find out which products or treatments will be best for your skin type.