When should I start getting Botox®? Is it time to incorporate retinol into my skincare routine? What is a “mommy makeover”? How about a “daddy do-over”? Do I really need to, as the saying goes, sacrifice my butt for my face? Should I swap my temporary dermal fillers for something a bit more permanent?
When it comes to beauty and aesthetics, there is no such thing as one-size-fits-all. But there are some tried and true principles that will keep you looking and feeling your best. In this series, Coming of Age, The AEDITION answers your most pressing questions about the best treatments, procedures, and practices — from surgery and skincare to health and wellness and everything in between — to consider at any age.
Depending on who you talk to, your twenties are either the best of times or the worst of times. But one thing is certain: there is never a better time to start taking care of your skin. Because it is the decade during which your complexion bounces back in a flash and fine lines and wrinkles are far from your mind, taking preventative measures with both professional and at-home treatments can pay dividends later on.
In addition to investing in a sunscreen you won’t mind wearing every single day (it’s a non-negotiable), maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and cultivating good skincare habits (think: always washing your face before bed), your twenties are the time to establish a relationship with a board certified dermatologist. Whether you are dealing with hormonal acne (sadly, pimples don’t magically disappear when you exit your teenage years), need a skin cancer screening, or are curious about injectables or other minimally invasive procedures, a professional opinion could go a long way towards long term skin health.
Below is a guide to some of the best cosmetic treatments and procedures to consider and healthy lifestyle habits to keep in your twenties!
Minimally Invasive Treatments
Not to be confused with microdermabrasion, microneedling is a minimally invasive treatment that improves cell turnover and promotes collagen and elastin production (i.e. the proteins that support the structure of the skin) by using a handheld device covered in fine needles (like a dermaroller) to make small punctures in the skin.
“We numb patients prior to treatment and use a pen to create micro-injuries in the skin,” says Richard Brown, MD, an Arizona-based board certified plastic surgeon. “By doing this, we are mimicking the skin’s natural healing process — allowing for fresh blood supply, cell turnover, and the production of collagen and elastin.”
Microneedling is also great for treating atrophic (a.k.a. depressed) scars, specifically those caused by acne. Severe teenage and adult acne can damage the skin, and, if the body produces too little or too much collagen during the healing process, the skin will scar. The micro-wounds caused by microneedling help trigger the body’s natural healing process, which can lead to the improved appearance of scars.
Dr. Brown likes to alternate microneedling with chemical peels (more on those below!) and recommends sessions every four to six weeks. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the absorption rate of topical skincare products is greatly increased after treatment, though itchiness and redness may linger for a few days.
Speaking of chemical peels, the treatment relies on — you guessed it — chemical exfoliators like alpha- and beta-hydroxy acids, trichloroacetic acid, and carbolic acid to slough off dead skin cells and rejuvenate the skin (think: smoothing fine lines and correcting mild to moderate hyperpigmentation). With both at-home and professional-strength options available, the potency can be tailored to a patient’s skin type and level of sensitivity.
“Typical facials cleanse the skin and may offer a bit of exfoliation and hydration, however, chemical peels can take off the top few layers of dead skin resulting in a more dramatic change in the skin’s appearance,” says Dr. Brown. “In my experience, facials feel nice for a day or so, but the results of a chemical peel and/or microneedling will have more impact on the skin’s health.”
Consulting with a dermatologist or plastic surgeon will ensure that you get the treatment that is right for you. And while redness and swelling can occur for up to a week after the treatment, Dr. Brown says brighter skin and a more even complexion can “last months” when coupled with “proper at-home care and sun protection.”
You’ve likely heard of the idea of “preventative Botox” (i.e. using botulinum toxin type A injections to ward off future lines and wrinkles), but will introducing Botox®, Dysport®, Jeuveau®, or Xeomin® into your skincare regimen in your twenties really have a long term benefit? The short answer is yes.
“The sooner you prevent animation of the muscle, the sooner you prevent the permanent lines over time,” Dr. Brown explains. Botox® and its competitors are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to temporarily reduce the appearance of glabellar lines (a.k.a. frown lines), crow’s feet, and forehead lines (and they have many “off label” anti-aging uses as well).
When injected into an area of concern, botulinum toxin type A temporarily paralyzes the muscles and, in turn, eases the formation of lines and wrinkles caused by repeated facial expressions (think: frowning, squinting, smiling) that utilize said muscles. Once the fine lines and wrinkles form, they are harder to correct, so starting preventative treatments early could lead to smoother skin down the line.
Regardless of which brand injectable you choose, results take about a week to kick in and typically last three to six months. Bruising and pain at the injection site are common, and, in rare cases, botulism-like symptoms (trouble breathing and swallowing, muscle weakness, and slurred speech) may occur.
Cosmetic and Plastic Surgery
If you have more invasive procedures on the brain, your twenties may be the time to move ahead with them. With facial features fully developed and the body likely in peak health, patients in their twenties may find that they recover faster and bounce back better after reconstructive or cosmetic surgeries during this decade.
“I always suggest that patients have breast surgery after having children. The only time I think it is okay to have breast surgery first is if the patient is younger and not planning children for many years ahead,” Dr. Brown says. “In that situation, I think it is okay to have a procedure if you feel that doing so is very important to you in the present moment in life. Just realize you possibly will need revisions after children.”
In general, Dr. Brown advises women to hold off on larger surgical procedures (particularly related to the breasts) until after childbirth because pregnancy can cause weight and volume fluctuations that directly affect the quality of skin.
While there are plenty of procedures that’ll keep your complexion in tip-top shape, not every treatment option requires a trip to the doctor’s office. There are plenty of lifestyle factors that will promote skin health.
It goes without saying that eating a well-balanced diet, drinking plenty of water, limiting alcohol consumption, not smoking, getting enough sleep, and exercising regularly are important practices at any point in life, but it should be noted that not embracing those healthy habits from a young age can lead to premature aging.
Additionally, there is no better time than the present to adopt a skincare routine. Dr. Brown recommends a four-step regimen that includes a cleanser, moisturizer, sunscreen, and retinol. The latter is a jack of all trades that can treat everything from acne to wrinkles, though it may require a bit of patience to work up a tolerance. When it comes to sunscreen, you should be wearing SPF 30 at a minimum. Finding a broad-spectrum formula that will protect against both UVA and UVB rays is also key (for everything you need to know about sunscreen, we’ve got a deep dive on the topic HERE).
While you can spend as much time in the skincare aisle as you’d like, Dr. Brown says nothing can compare to simply taking care of yourself with a healthy diet and lifestyle.
Since the twenties are less about correcting and more about preventing, minimally invasive treatments like microneedling, chemical peels, and neurotoxin injections can offer both immediate and long term benefits. During this decade, facial features have also fully developed, which may mean it is an ideal time to consider reconstructive or cosmetic surgeries. Adopting a proper skincare and sun care routine is also beneficial, but nothing can replace a healthy lifestyle.
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