Ah, tweakment-related bruising. When you think about it, it’s logical that even supposedly ‘no downtime’ procedures (think: certain vascular lasers, dermal filler, and neurotoxin injections) can leave you with marks and bruises that last a few days to a couple of weeks. After all, the areas of the face where people most often get this type of temporary help (the eyes, lips, and forehead) are also where the skin is quite thin and fragile — hence why they are prone to showing aging, volume loss, and texture issues in the first place.
So, what’s an easy-to-mark aesthetics fan to do? Trying what you can to prevent hematomas, caring for the ones that pop up despite your best efforts, and erasing all traces of them with makeup can all help. Here, the best practices for addressing those signs that make you feel like your face is screaming “Botox® needle was here” or “Filler just applied!” so you can tweak in peace.
What to Know Before You Go
First, manage your expectations: Some people are simply more prone to bruising than others. A few things that can add to your propensity are age, certain medications, and good ol’ genetics. But it’s not all about you. Below are three other factors that may influence how much bruising and/or swelling you encounter after an injectable or laser treatment.
1. Find the Right Provider
“Certainly experience and expertise matters when doing any procedure,” insists Samer Jaber, MD, board certified dermatologist at Washington Square Dermatology in NYC and a clinical assistant professor of dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. That’s why visiting the most skilled provider matters. “It’s important to see a board certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon when doing cosmetic procedures, as they are trained in the anatomy of the face and have an understanding where the larger blood vessels are to minimize the risk of puncturing them,” he shares. Seeking out recommendations from people you know could be a good call, if possible.
2. Ask About Technique
Once you’ve found your doc, you’ve got another option to run by him or her when it comes to injections, says Sarmela Sunder, MD, a double board certified plastic surgeon in Beverly Hills: cannula or micro-cannula. These needles are blunt, flexible, and less likely to puncture blood vessels when going into the skin than the traditional rigid, sharp-tip variety. Whether you’re a candidate for using the technique comes down to factors like the type of product in the syringe, where it’s being injected, and doctor preference. But, according to Dr. Sunder, it’s worth asking about.
3. Skip Certain Supplements & Medications
No matter the exact procedure you’re going in for, what you take beforehand can impact your recovery. “Patients must avoid all blood thinning agents such as NSAIDS, ibuprofen, Motrin, Advil, aspirin, green tea, omega-3 acids, fish oil, and many vitamins and supplements for two full weeks prior to their appointment to minimize their chance of bruising,” Dr. Sunder says.
If that seems like a long list, settle in because one or two days before your appointment there’s another no-no to add: Alcohol. Research shows it can increase bruising in non-surgical cosmetic treatment both before and after a treatment.
Bruise-Minimizing After Care
Following your appointment, there are a few moves experts swear by to minimize bruising:
- Ice Ice Baby: Your doctor will likely have an ice pack handy, and Dr. Jaber says you should use it. He’s seen that periodically icing in the 24 hours post-procedure can minimize bruising.
- Take a Rest Day: Dr. Sunder suggests taking a break from things that get your blood pumping — like working out or being in extreme heat — for 48 hours after.
- Sleep Strategically: Sleeping with your head propped up with two pillows for a few days can help with swelling, as well as preventing and draining bruising.
As for treating dark marks, Dr. Jaber says his patients have taken arnica or bromelain to not only help decrease the risk of bruising but to help them fade faster, thanks to anti-inflammatory benefits that help the healing process. Some have found success using arnica topically as well to help them dissolve a few days ahead of schedule, a strategy a 2016 research review concluded was both safe and effective. One to try: Arnicare Gel.
And if you really want to get rid of a bigger bruise in a hurry, there is one last option to try, though it involves going back to your doc. Dr. Jaber says to ask about KTP or pulsed dye lasers, which can work on the blood vessels and “be used to treat the bruise and make it go away much more quickly.” But don’t say we didn’t warn you: Since they are vascular lasers themselves, there is a risk of light bruising. As such, it might not be the answer you’re looking for.
How to Conceal Post-Procedure Bruises
Once you’ve done the best you can with ice, arnica, and the like, makeup can be an efficient way to conceal post-op bruising and dark marks. According to celebrity makeup artist Suzy Gerstein, it all starts with a high-quality densely pigmented concealer (she suggests Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer).
As for the age-old debate about whether concealer is best applied before or after foundation, she says it’s all a matter of preference. “It doesn’t really matter how you get to the party,” Gerstein explains. “Some makeup artists like to apply foundation before concealer to take the edge off of the discoloration before neutralizing and covering it completely, while others prefer to spot conceal and then blend it all together with foundation.”
Whatever your method, Gerstein insists the key to perfect concealer application is to “use a fine-topped, synthetic brush to concentrate the color just where you need it.” A concealer brush will do but she happens to love Jenny Patinkin Luxury Vegan Pin Point Liner Brush. Then take a fluffier blending brush to buff out the edges before setting with powder.
Final note: If there’s also swelling involved, think less is more. Not only do you need to be super careful with puffy areas (as not to irritate sore spots), but you should also go thinner with your makeup application. Gerstein says that anything thick “will draw the eye to the thing you’re trying to make recede.” Another tip? Switching to a slightly darker shade than you would usually think to use can also help. Going too light, she says, “will optically bring the area even more forward.” And that, of course, is exactly the opposite of your goal.
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