Tag Archives: health

My Favorite Skincare Gadgets – #2: Microcurrent

My 2nd most favorite gadget to use in conjunction with my skincare is a microcurrent device.  Proper skincare will help maintain the structure and elasticity of the skin by rebuilding collagen and elastin.  Ultrasound devices can stimulate the pili muscles in the dermis to further tighten the skin.  But, another factor which contributes to an aged appearance is sagging of the facial muscles located under the skin’s subcutaneous layer.  This results in nasolabial fold lines, sagging jowls, and turkey gobble under the chin.  Skincare and ultrasound are not capable of correcting lax, sagging muscles, so it is an important consideration if you are trying to keep an overall youthful appearance.  Luckily, a microcurrent device can address the sagging muscles.  Professional microcurrent machines have been used in spas for at least 20 years.  Muscles on the face that are not worked on a regular basis eventually atrophy and sag with age, similar to muscles on the body. 

Microcurrent gadgets generate little electrical impulses which are passed through the facial muscles.  The electrical stimulation gives the facial muscles a mini workout by alternately tensing and relaxing them.  As a result, facial muscles are firmer and more lifted appearing.   Deep lines caused by constant squinting, frowning and  other expressions can be softened and relaxed with microcurrent.  The eye brows, cheeks, and jawline can be lifted with a microcurrent gadget.  As you lift the cheek muscles, nasolabial lines (marionette lines) diminish as well.  An immediate lifting effect can be seen right after a spa treatment and can last 7-10 days.   With regular treatments, the effect is cumulative and sustained.  You may have to go in once a week for a few weeks to obtain the desired results and then go on a maintenance schedule of once or twice a month to keep up the results.  The effect is temporary, however; so unless you can go in at least once every month, your sagging will eventually come back. 

The good news is that for a few hundred dollars, you can buy a home unit for interim or long-term use.  They may take longer than a spa treatment to obtain the same level of results, but the end result is the same as long as you do treatments on a regular basis.  Most of these are hand-held units and cost in the $300 to $500 range.  The benefits of microcurrent devices are that they are noninvasive, not painful, or harmful.  They are extremely easy to use.  You may feel a tingling and contractions, but it should never be painful or unbearable.  In addition to lifting the muscles, the electrical current also increases circulation and blood flow in the skin, providing more nutrients to the skin, improving its overall health, tone, and texture.  I find microcurrent helpful in reducing morning eye puffiness by moving out retained fluid under the eyes.  Like ultrasound, I find microcurrent is a must-have gadget because of its multiple benefits and lack of risk.

Over the last decade, I have tried several units.  I tried the Dermatone, Suzanne Somers Facemaster, and the Ezzi-lift.  By far, my favorite microcurrent device has been Tua Trend.  It is a handheld rechargeable unit.  I’ve been using it over a year now, and it’s very user-friendly, not painful, highly adjustable, AND only takes me 15 minutes 3x/wk for treatments.  Great for busy (or lazy) people who don’t want to spend hours every week doing treatments.  Here is a picture of my Tua Trend.  The sponges are different colors, but are the same otherwise:    

The beauty of this unit is that it has a timer on it, so you know exactly when to move the wand to the next section of the face.  There are specific settings for 5 zones of the face and neck (upper cheek, lower cheek, eyebrow and eye, jaw/neck, and under eye).  You can control the intensity or strength of contractions to each zone; this is displayed as a number on the screen.  The wands are detachable.  Two replaceable sponge contacts or heads are on each wand.  Only 1 wand comes with the unit.  However, you can buy an additional wand and plug in 2 wands (4 sponge contacts in total) in order to work both sides of your face simultaneously, cutting the treatment time from 30 to 15 minutes.  There is a DVD and a booklet with full instructions, but it is very easy to use after one read.

 I use the Tua Trend on clean dry skin.  The wands must be moistened with water or calming mist so that the current can conduct properly through the skin.  If not wet enough, you will not feel the tingle or contractions as well.  Correctly placed, you will see and feel the muscles contracting.  Depending on the level you set, it can be mild or very strong.  I suggest not setting the levels too high in the beginning.  You can overwork the muscles and cause more sag if you try to do too much, too soon, at a very high intensity.   Also, do it in the mirror the first few times to be sure you are contracting the right muscles.  Build up your intensity and give your face muscles down time to rest in between treatments.  I think 3x/wk is adequate.  If you have a big event or date, do it the morning of the event for a pick-me-up lift.  After the microcurrent treatment, I do my ultrasound massage.  It’s not necessary that the microcurrent and ultrasound treatments be done together, but I like to use my gadgets on the same 3 evenings (or mornings) and get it over with.  Together, both treatments should take about 40 minutes 3x/wk….That’s not too much time to invest in keeping your face as youthful as possible.   I think these gadgets are a better option to plastic surgery, as they are safer, cheaper, and there is no down-time.   Additionally, you can’t end up looking “overdone” or unnatural looking, as sometimes happens with plastic surgery.   Keep in mind, even good plastic surgery is only a temporary solution, because the skin and muscles will ultimately sag again after a few years.   Unfortunately, you can’t stop the aging process, you can only slow it down with proper skincare and regular use of skincare tools or gadgets.

Resources:

http://reviews.qvcuk.com/1690/432631/tua-tua-trend-face-neck-portable-toning-firming-system-with-demo-dvd-432631-reviews/reviews.htm

http://www.tuatrendface.com/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sTpmou2tkqg&feature=related

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A Safe and Sensible Approach to Correcting Acne Scars

Once your acne is under control and your skin is no longer inflamed, you can address the acne scars which remain.  The effectiveness of treatments tends to be better on people who are younger, healthier, and have fresh scars.   However, if you have decades old scarring, you can still diminish scarring.  My scars were 30 years old and I still got excellent results.  It will just take longer and require patience.   My suggestion is that you approach scar remodeling on a risk/benefit basis.  That is, try the least risky options first before embarking on more invasive and, potentially, damaging procedures.   Many people immediately go for the big guns, paying thousands of dollars on the latest laser treatments in hopes of instant scar repair.  “Instant” scar repair usually does not happen without some risk attached to it.  If there was a miracle treatment, we would have heard of it by now.  Though I have heard of some success stories with lasers, dermabrasion, and peels, I have also heard the flip side, of people who have become disfigured or damaged their skin permanently from botched laser procedures, dermabrasions, and deep chemical peels.  The damage may not show until months later, but it is devastating when it happens.  Remember, your results are totally dependent on the skill and knowledge of the doctor, nurse, or assistant doing the procedure.  If you sustain damage to the dermis or subcutaneous layer, you will have few options to repair it without risking further damage.   So, my recommendation is to eliminate or reduce the risk of damage by trying the less invasive treatments first, treatments which have little or no risk.     

Scar Remodeling – What I Found to Work  

I have been searching for acne repair solutions for the last 3 decades, so I’ve done many things and used many skincare lines.  Some have helped and some made things worse.  Most did nothing.  I believe I got some improvement from TCA peels in the doctor’s office, acids with Copper Peptides, and a line called Epicuren.  The problem was, with long-term use, they eventually led to my skin becoming sensitive, thinned, blotchy, and the results eventually stopped.   

Of the many treatments I have tried over the years, I find the following to be the most effective, safe, inexpensive, and without down-time.  Results are cumulative.  It can always get better, not worse.  Try these first before signing up for deep chemical peels, dermabrasion, or laser treatments:

1.   My Holy Grail of scar repair has to be this:   302 products with Avogen in conjunction with ultrasound and needling techniques.  The Avogen is a safe and effective ingredient that softens the skin and increases cell renewal.  I can honestly say that this has been the only thing which I could use long-term and see dramatically visible results.  I had 80% improvement in the first year, and now I would estimate it is 95% improvement after 5 years.  Avogen is very good at breaking up the gristly, cross-linked protein which presents as hardened scar tissue in the dermis.  It softens skin.   It also increases glucose utilization, which improves cell energy, and promotes the collagen and protein synthesis necessary to fill in the scar.  Ultrasound and needling are not required with Avogen, but I find it accelerates the process by breaking up the scar faster and pushing the Avogen deeper into the dermis.   The actual entire process is explained below in more detail. 

2.  Heating your skin to 115 degrees Fahrenheit for 8-10 seconds will denature the scar and help promote collagen formation.  You can use a number of gadgets to accomplish this.  In fact, that is how lasers seem to promote collagen, by the heat it generates, not the light.  See the study below.  You can safely use a 2 MHz ultrasound probe to generate the heat, a heating pad set on a low setting, or even hair dryer on low.  But the ultrasound probe is best because it will not dry out your skin or get too hot. 

3.  Take supplements which help break up scar tissue.  The two I use are serrapeptase and nattokinase.  These are fibrinolytic enzymes which dissolve excess fibrin which causes scar tissue, adhesions, and growths on organs, vessels, and arteries.  Once broken down by these enzymes, the cell debris is more capable of being excreted as waste.  These enzymes also have anti-inflammatory, immune system, and circulatory benefits.

4.  Even without 302 Avogen, you can try individual needling, dermarolling, or dermastamping.  This involves puncturing the skin with tiny holes, which can break up scar tissue and allow topicals to permeate the dermis better.  Vitamin A and C topicals are recommended prior, during, and after these treatments to promote collagen regeneration.  Just make sure not to apply Retin-A or L-ascorbic C forms, as these are highly irritating and will sting.  Instead, use lipid soluble vitamin A in the form of Retinyl Palmitate and vitamin C in the form of tetrahexydecyl-ascorbate (THDCA).  These forms are gentler, yet still provide the same benefits as Retin-A and L-ascorbic C.  These are the forms used in the 302 A Boost and Lightening Drops.  You can buy microneedling devices from the Internet or Ebay, but you have to be extremely careful.  There are many dangerous and shoddy devices out there.  I would never go any longer than 2.0 mm in length, because the possibility of going all the way to the subcutaneous fat layer is too risky.  You can permanently damage your fat cells by using extremely long needles and cause them to die or atrophy, leaving your face gaunt looking.  I buy my supplies from www.owndoc.com.  I find them honest and reasonable in cost.  You can also try finding a physician who does these procedures in an office setting under sterile conditions, which would be the safest option.             

My 302 Protocol for Scar Remodeling

First, a disclaimer.  This is my personal protocol.  The 302 company does not endorse self-needling, dermarolling, or dermastamping.  Obviously, there is a risk of infection if the tools are not sterile or you do not do it correctly.  Before embarking on this, read about dermarolling, needling, and stamping in the www.owndoc.com website.  There are several very informative articles in their forum. 

The one important prerequisite is that you have used the 302 skincare protocol suggested by your esthetician and have come to a point where your skin is calmed, healthy, and functioning well.  If you are not at this point, don’t attempt this yet.  You want your skin to be in optimal health before doing this.  Select your tools correctly.  If you have numerous scars on the face, you will want to use a 1.5 mm dermaroller.  If you only have a few isolated scars, a single needle (for ice picks) or a dermastamp (for small scars) is a better option.  You will need some anesthetic if using the roller, but is not necessary or desirable for the individual needles or dermastamps.  Anesthetic seems to exacerbate redness, and it takes longer to go away in my experience. 

So, in a nutshell this is what I did for my acne scars.  This should also work for chemical burns and other general scarring: 

1.   Take a 2- or 3-week holiday from Avogen-containing topicals, also A and C actives.  You may continue using all other 302 products as usual if you want.  The reason for the break is to reset your skin to baseline again.  Nothing bad will happen, and when you resume the actives, the improvements seem to jump to another level.

2.  At the end of the holiday, use the appropriate tool to roll, needle, or stamp your scars.  Below, from left to right, is a 2 mm single needle, 1.75 mm dermastamp, and 1.5 mm dermaroller.It’s very important to use sterile technique and instruments.  You don’t need to excessively roll, needle or stamp.  Four passes on the roller in 4 directions, 15 stamps or 15 needle punctures is all you want.  You want to see pinprick bleeding, this is an indication you are reaching the dermis, where the scar resides.  But don’t make your skin a bloody pulpy mess, or you will cause more scarring.  With proper technique, you should have some redness or red spots, but they will be totally gone in a matter of 5-7 days.  Use appropriate sunscreen or better yet, stay inside while you are in this stage of healing; otherwise, hyperpigmentation may result. 

3.  Immediately after the rolling, needling, stamping, apply equal parts of 302 Drops OR 302 Serum (or Hi Potency Drops or Hi Potency Serum if available) + A Boost + Lightening Drops.  This is the only time you should combine 302 actives.  This is what I call my 302 Triple Threat, and I only use this when needling.  Mist with water or Calming Mist afterwards to spread it out.

4.  Let your skin rest.  Don’t apply any more actives until your redness go away.   You can use the 302 cleansers, mists in the interim. 

5.  After your skin is back to normal, resume your 302 actives as usual. 

6.  In between treatments, use your 2 MHz ultrasound probe after applying your 302 Avogen topical at night to heat up the skin and push the Avogen even further. 

Do this 3x/week, 10 minutes for your face.   This is going to promote even more collagen regeneration and help tighten the skin.  Keep your skin slightly wet when using the probe, keep moving it in little circles, concentrating on scars.  I use the Calming mist, but misting water is okay too.  You should feel a little heat, but it should never be hot.   

7.  Do not roll, needle, or stamp again for at least another 4 weeks.  Six weeks, even better.  The skin is actively producing collagen during this period of time and you don’t want to disrupt the process.  Also, you don’t want chronic inflammation, so limit your treatments.

7.  Give yourself at least 6 months before assessing progress.  Scar remodeling is one of the longest processes you will encounter, especially the older you are.  Be patient.  Don’t expect overnight results.  Take before and after shots.  Your friends and spouse will probably notice before you do, which is exactly what happened to me. 

So, stop constantly monitoring your skin on a daily or hourly basis, and keep a positive attitude!  Scar repair can be done safely and cheaply if you educate yourself, use the right tools, and have patience.  

Resources:

http://www.healthiertalk.com/enzymes-fibrosis-scars-keloids-lung-disease-and-cancer-2118 

http://www.taoofherbs.com/articles/88/NeprinolEnzyme.htm

http://dermaroller.com/en/scar-treatment/derma-stamp

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101021141000.htm

http://www.asds.net/UltrasoundUsefulinSkinTightening.aspx