What is Acne?
Acne is a skin condition caused by an over activity of the glands that secrete oily substances onto the skin. When pores get blocked, this oil is trapped and bacteria begin to grow. If the pore becomes inflamed, a red, swollen pimple appears.
While most commonly seen on the face, there can be issues with acne on the chest, neck, shoulders and back. Blackheads, whiteheads, and cysts are all forms of acne.
There are several options available to help clear acne ranging from medication to light therapy. Often the most successful treatment involves a combination of approaches. To maintain the health of the skin during intensive acne treatments, we can recommend the best products to restore and balance your acne skin. From cleansers and toners, to moisturizers and sunscreens, we recommend products that will not only help your acne, but will revitalize your skin without aggravating it.
There is also a wide range of prescription products that are effective acne treatments such as topical retinoids, antibiotics, and birth control pills (for women). These medications can supplement our treatments and should be used in combination to help clear acne.
Actinic Keratosis: Pre-cancerous Skin Lesions
Actinic keratoses are pre-cancerous skin lesions found on fair-skinned individuals who have spent a lot of time in the sun or at the tanning salon. Actinic keratosis (or solar keratosis) is a skin lesion characterized by a small rough, scaly patch of skin. Actinic keratoses develop as a result of aging and sun damage by the skin’s repeated exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun.
These skin lesions are usually found on highly exposed areas such as the scalp, face, ears, back of the hands, forearms and chest. Actinic keratosis can be one of the early signs of skin cancer. If left untreated, some of these skin lesions may become invasive squamous cell carcinoma, a type of non-melanoma skin cancer. If a lesion on your skin starts to form a hard growth or become itchy, it is advised that you see a dermatologist as soon as possible.
Treatment for Actinic Karatosis
In the past, many dermatologists would treat skin lesions through cautery (burning), freezing with liquid nitrogen or excision (cutting and stitching). Our clinic offers two newer less-invasive treatments for actinic keratoses:
- Laser Resurfacing Therapy
- Skincare Products
Laser Resurfacing is utilized for many skin pigmentation issues such as melasma, aging and generalized sun damage. A series of two to four treatments have been shown to be effective on the face, arms, hands and chest.
Aging Skin – Wrinkles, Spots, Dryness and More
As you age, many different changes take place in your face. The most obvious signs of aging skin are wrinkles, expression lines and pigmentation changes such as brown spots. Your skin becomes drier and thinner. The skin then eventually begins to sag and loses its fullness. This loss of volume is seen with hollow cheeks, eye sockets and soft chins. Other lesser-known visual symptoms of aging include visible blood vessels and unwanted hair growth (while other hair on the body disappears!).
A pore is a hair follicle opening in the surface of your skin. If pores become clogged, the skin’s texture is affected and enlarged pores appear. Large pores are usually seen around the nose, cheeks and chin. Often coupled with acne, large pores can also be the result from poor exfoliation, aging, sun damage or genetics.
Melasma – Irregular Brown Patches on the Skin
If you have blotchy or patchy brown discolouration on your skin, you may have a skin condition called melanoma. Melasma (also known as chloasma or the ‘mask of pregnancy’) is a skin disorder in which brown patches develop on the skin. This unusual discolouration of the skin is usually present on the face, particularly the cheeks, forehead and upper lip area, as well as along the jawline. Sometimes melasma can be found on the neck, chest and forearms. The brown patches on the skin are due to an increased production of melanin related to hormonal changes (i.e. pregnancy, birth control pills) or prolonged sun exposure over many years. Mainly found on women’s skin, melasma can affect men as well.
Pigmentation – Brown Spots, Sun Spots and Age Spots
Pigmentation is a term that covers a wide range of skin discolouration issues from freckling and brown spots, to moles and melanoma. Skin pigmentation or hyperpigmentation occurs when areas of the skin become abnormally discoloured. This hyperpigmentation is usually – but not always – due to an increase in melanin production. It may be caused by sun damage, hormone changes or skin injuries such as acne. Types of skin decoloration include:
- Age Spots or Sun Spots: These are brownish pigmentations that surface as a result of overexposure to the sun. Over time a decrease in the number and function of melanin pigment cells causes the development of age/sun spots.
- Brown Spots: This term is commonly used for any dark skin mark, such as birthmarks, age spots and moles. In dermatology, brown spots are considered the same as age and sun spots.
- Freckles: Often a hereditary skin discolouration to begin with, increased freckling is on the face, upper chest, back and shoulders is the result of sun damage.
- Melasma: Hyperpigmentation characterized by irregular brown patches on the skin (see separate page for more information).
- Moles: These brown or black growths on the skin come in many different shapes and sizes. Moles should be carefully watched for signs of change, which could be associated with melanoma skin cancer.
Rosacea – Redness of the Face
Do you have persistent red cheeks, look flushed and/or blush easily? Do you find this redness difficult to remedy, either with skin creams or makeup? This facial redness may be rosacea. Rosacea is a common skin problem that appears early on as redness on the face. The degree of facial redness worsens as rosacea progresses. Ultimately, visible veins such as broken capillaries and spider veins form on the face. Some people will also develop small blemishes and breakouts that look like acne. In severe cases of rosacea, thickening of the skin on the nose, chin or forehead can develop.
As you age, the skin on your face takes the brunt of the damage from sun, pollution, stress and other lifestyle factors in the form of wrinkles and loose skin. Add genetics, weight loss and the effects of gravity to the mix, and your skin can sag significantly downwards. Sagging skin is a result of the breakdown of collagen and elastin, the skin’s supporting structure. Collagen keeps the skin tight and young looking; while elastin provides skin with the ability to stretch and spring back into shape. Some of the most problematic areas for loose skin on the face include: ‘Hooded’ or drooping eyelids, Eye bags, ‘Jowls’ (jawline), Neck
Scarring – Keloid, Hpertrophic and Acne Scars
Some scarring of the skin can cause mild self-consciousness, while others – such as acne scars – can be devastating. If you have been disappointed with scar creams and other home remedies, it may be time to consider a more successful scar treatment option. Any injury to the skin can cause the formation of scar tissue, which consists of irregular collagen fibres. Scarring can be caused by many different types of skin trauma, including: Acne, Accidents, Burns, Disease and Surgery. Scars vary greatly in colour, size and shape. Scarring also comes in different types, which will direct what type of treatment is utilized. For example most acne scars are indentations in the skin (‘pitted’), while a keloid scar has grown larger than the affected area.
A skin tag is a small hanging skin growth usually found on the neck, chest, back, armpits, under the breasts or in the groin area. Skin tags are harmless but can become irritated by clothing or jewelry. Sometimes skin tags start out tiny and in time, can grow to the size of a large grape. Many patients who have visible or larger skin tags choose to have them removed for cosmetic reasons.
Research has shown that up to 90% of skin aging is due to sun damage. This is why all dermatologists resolutely recommend comprehensive sun protection to prevent this premature aging (‘photoaging’) and, of course, the development of skin cancer. Skin that has been adversely affected by the damaging effects of UV rays from the sun or artificial tanning beds is considered to be sun-damaged skin. Besides making you look older than you really are, early signs of sun damage include: Wrinkles, Fine Lines, Visible Veins, Uneven Pigmentation and Volume loss. As photoaging continues over time, wrinkles deepen, skin texture changes (becomes ‘leathery’), skin sags and lips lose definition. More seriously, too much UV radiation is known to be the main cause of skin cancer, the most common cancer diagnosed in Canadians and in the world today. Precancerous skin lesions such as actinic keratoses are also the result of long-term repeated exposure to the sun.
Unwanted Hair – Body Hair, Back and Facial Hair
Smooth, hair-free skin is something many of us aspire to, especially when we are dealing with embarrassing unwanted hair issues like female facial hair and back hair. What defines unwanted hair on an individual is largely subjective, depending on each person’s gender, lifestyle and cultural background. In general, it refers to any unappealing body hair or facial hair. Women are apt to remove hair that is not considered feminine fine hair (‘peach fuzz’)—so darker or more abundant hair on the face, arms, legs, abdomen and feet is targeted. Many women want hairier areas such as the armpits and bikini line to be hair-free or “cleaned up”. Men tend to remove excessive body hair on the neck, back and hands. Many men choose to be hair-free on the chest as well. Unwanted hair can take up countless hours throughout our life—not only shaving, tweezing and waxing, but also worrying about its appearance at various stages of growth.
Visisble Veins – Spider Veins and Broken Capilaries
Red blotches and facial redness are the hallmarks of broken capillaries or spider veins on the face. Rarely a serious health problem, these small visible veins are most often treated to enhance your appearance. Spider veins are superficial thin blood vessels most commonly found on the legs and face. These dilated capillaries can appear red, purple or blue in colour, and either as strands or in clusters. If found on the legs, spider veins can cause some discomfort such as itching or burning. Sometimes spider veins are symptomatic of a larger venous problem such as varicose veins. Capillaries are tiny blood vessels that connect arteries and veins in the outer layer of the skin. When several broken capillaries appear in one area, they become visible as red streaks or blotches. These veins on the face – especially on the nose and cheek – can be further irritated by certain factors causing ‘flushing’ or more redness.
Facial Volume Loss – Loss of Face Shape
Aging produces a marked change in the appearance in the face, and much of this is due to the loss of volume. Many of our patients are concerned about correcting wrinkles, but don’t realize that face shaping techniques will restore the youthful appearance they’re after in a very natural way. Volume loss refers to fat loss or ‘deflation’ of the face. Unlike the rest of our body, the face gradually loses its youthful fullness and contour. Then gravity works its magic, causing the skin to descend down the face. This exposes the underlying bone and allows the skin to sag. Facial volume loss is characterized by some or all of the following conditions: Lines in the skin, Drooping eyelids and eyebrows, Hollow eyes, Sunken cheeks, Grooves around the mouth (‘smile’ and ‘marionette’ lines), Sagging or downturned mouth, Thin lips, Jowls (loss of jawline contour)
Wrinkles – Lines, Creases, Folds and Furrows
The biggest anti-aging concern has always been wrinkles. From finding the best anti-wrinkle cream to changing lifestyle habits, most women (and many men) are focused on preventing wrinkles. A wrinkle is a line or a crease on the surface of the skin. Wrinkles are caused by the breakdown of the skin’s connective fibres, collagen and elastin. As the skin’s texture changes, becoming thinner and rougher, the repetitive movement of the underlying muscles cause wrinkles to form in the upper layers of the skin. Lines, creases, folds, crow’s feet and brow furrows are some of the many types of wrinkles that can be found on the face.
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