I know we just had a snowstorm and bitter cold temps. But back in February, when we experienced the warmest February ever, I starting thinking about wearing cute off-the-shoulder tops, shorts, and even bathing suits, a wave of panic swept over me. My body wasn’t ready – spider veins, sun spots, cellulite, and yes unwanted hair. It needed help. Luckily there’s still time to get summer ready and people to help.
I wish I could say they were cute freckles, but no, those brown spots were sun damage. To rid them, I first tried a topical cream that promised to lighten them. And each time I smeared it on my face and chest, I thought, “out, out darn spots,” but to no avail. So now it was time to see Rockville laser and skin specialist Dr. Shirley Olsen. Her answer was Intense Light Pulse (IPL). This advanced light-based technology would clear the undesirable sun damage. On the day of IPL, Dr. Olsen applied a gel to my face and chest and gave me a pair of goggles. Using a handheld flashgun she passed it across my skin. The specialized pulses targeted the sun damage without harming the surrounding skin and the light delivered to my skin would cause them to slowly disappear through my body’s natural healing process. I’m glad to say that it was painless, fast, and I was able to immediately put on makeup. Dr. Olsen said that the spots on my face would disappear first while those on my chest would take about two weeks. It’s important to remember to put on sunscreen of course not just after the procedure but always. And I’m happy to report it worked!
I was ready to stop covering my spider veins with tanning products or wearing long pants. I called Marcia Scorpio RN, who works with Dr. Forman at the North Bethesda offices of the Plastic Surgery Institute of Washington. Scorpio has been taking care of spider veins and doing laser treatments for over 15 years. I was thrilled to hear that sclerotherapy is the gold standard for vein removal, requires no anesthesia, and, thank goodness, uses a needle that is thin as a hair. After changing into very “stylish” paper shorts, Scorpio injected a solution into each affected vein, causing the vein to collapse and fade over time. This treatment was painless though there was a very slight bruising afterwards. And I was told not to exercise for 24 hours, though I could go back to work. With these spider veins gone, I am ready to get the others done. The good news is these spider veins are gone forever, but unfortunately the treatment does not prevent new spider veins from surfacing in the future.
Laser Hair Removal
“Today’s laser hair removal is not like when your mother had it done. It’s faster, much more comfortable, and can be used on dark skin,” says Scorpio. Laser hair removal is a non-invasive technique that uses highly concentrated light to penetrate hair follicles. The intense heat of the laser damages the hair follicle to inhibit future hair growth. According to Scorpio you’ll need multiple treatments ranging from four to six treatments and several weeks apart. If you’re doing your bikini area you need to do it eight weeks apart, and for your legs 10 to 12 weeks. The reason is it targets active growth and hair grows in cycles. Each time you do it, it removes 20 percent. While I have yet to try it, it’s on my wish list.
Like so many women, I have cellulite and hate it. And like any woman, I’ve tried lotions and potions without success. Plastic Surgeon Douglas Forman M.D. says, “now there’s Cellfina™, a new technique for cellulite that is FDA-cleared, minimally invasive, done under local anesthesia, and improves the appearance of cellulite for up to two years or longer." It can only be performed by a qualified physician. The ideal patient is about 35-45 years old, has good skin tone, works out five to six times a week, has very little fat, and has cellulite dimpling on the buttocks and the outer upper thigh. Unfortunately, with cellulite on my inner thighs, I was not a good candidate. Cellfina is performed by instilling local anesthesia then releasing the bands under the skin that cause the cellulite. "Depending on an individual's pain threshold, some patients take Vicodin beforehand." If a patient takes the additional pain killer they need someone to drive them to and from the office, otherwise they can drive themselves. "Patients return to work the following day” says Dr. Forman. Initial results are seen in four-six weeks and a final appearance is achieved at six-12 months.