Plastic Surgery By Season: Invasive and Non-Invasive Cosmetic Procedures For Winter
There’s a reason they call it Old Man Winter. Between the cold, dry air, blustery winds, and the possibility that you may have overindulged over the holidays, your self-care situation may be in serious need of a pick me up. So, rather than hibernating until spring, we’ve got the best winter skincare and cosmetic surgery tips from board certified dermatologists and plastic surgeons.
What Winter Weather Means for Your Complexion
You’re not imagining things: your skin is much drier (and flakier, and grumpier) in the wintertime. Cold air holds less moisture than warm air, so moisture is drawn out of the skin as the temperature drops. Compounding the problem, when that drier air is heated indoors, it regains its capacity to hold water and takes it from your complexion’s already depleted reserves. Fortunately, changing your skincare routine at home — and indulging in a combination of in-office procedures when possible — can keep you looking downright dewy despite the weather.
How To Upgrade Your At-Home Skincare Routine for Winter
Keeping skin happy and hydrated during the winter months doesn’t have to require a trip to the doctor’s office or a large investment. A well-curated at-home skincare routine can work wonders for your complexion, and we asked two dermatologists for their go-to recommendations.
Incorporate Budget-Friendly Products
Sensitive winter skin requires gentle care, says board certified Beverly Hills dermatologist Michael Lin, MD. From the temperature of the water you use to wash your face to the products you slather on afterward, every step of the process matters. “I recommend luke warm water with mild cleanser, and use lots of moisturizer” Dr. Lin shares. He suggests thicker creams or ointments that come in a jar, like CeraVe Cream or Aquaphor Healing Ointment, and says additional measures can be taken if it’s still not enough. “A humidifier can also help if the air is dry,” he adds.
Treat Yourself to Medical-Grade Skincare
For a skincare upgrade, West Hollywood cosmetic dermatologist Jason Emer, MD, recommends professional-grade products from the Restorsea line, including the Pro Foaming Cleanser, Pro Intensive Treatment 10x, and 24kt Liquid Gold Face Oil. “Restorsea products contain Aquabeautine XL®, which is brightening and ultra hydrating,” he shares.
Professional Skincare Treatments to Try for Winter
Each of the dermatologists we consulted advocate for both chemical peels and laser treatments during the winter months because strict sun avoidance is required afterwards. The treatments listed here have fairly minimal downtimes (ranging from a few days to a few weeks) but rejuvenating results.
Ranging in intensity from light to deep, chemical peels remove successive skin layers using different types and strengths of acids. Typically, the peel solution is applied in office and, after the allotted time, is neutralized by the provider (though some peels are self neutralizing). Within about 48 hours, patients experience varying degrees of flaking and redness typically lasting a couple of weeks.
The result of a chemical peel is dependent upon its strength, but patients can generally expect improvement in pigmentation, tone, and fine lines. Strict sun avoidance is crucial post-peel to minimize the risk of hyperpigmentation. Other risks include scarring, infection, and lingering redness. Light to medium chemical peels can range from several hundred dollars to upwards of $1,000, depending upon the treatment, the provider, and your location.
Fractional Laser Resurfacing
These non-ablative lasers stimulate the production of collagen, while leaving the skin’s outer layers generally undisturbed. Dr. Lin says these lasers provide patients with an improvement in both smoothness and pigmentation without the downtime of a skin-stripping ablative laser (think: a few days vs. a few weeks).
Dr. Emer favors the Halo™ laser, which is a hybrid that applies both ablative and non-ablative wavelengths. “Halo™ combines deep dermal rejuvenation with epidermal renewal for a combined synergistic effect you can’t get with any other treatment,” he explains. “It creates beautiful results without the downtime of more aggressive treatments.” Dr. Emer applies PRP (platelet rich plasma) immediately after the treatment to stimulate repair. The result is improvement in “sun damage, wrinkles, pores, scars, and pigmentation,” he says.
Risks associated with non-ablative laser procedures can include infection, pigmentation changes, and, rarely, blistering or scarring. Treatment cost averages about $1,500.
With minimal risks and very little downtime (think: minor bruising, swelling, or injection-site pain for a few days) our doctors agree that both neuromodulators, like Botox®, Dysport®, Jeuveau®, and Xeomin®, and dermal fillers can provide a youthful boost mid-winter.
Morpheus8 is a device that combines microneedling (using 24-karat gold-coated pins that are safe for all skin types) with radiofrequency (RF) energy to target both superficial skin and deeper fat layers. “This treatment can smooth both the fat and dermal layer to tighten the overall appearance, shrink pores, lift laxity, soften lines and folds, and even treat acne and scarring,” Dr. Emer explains.
A typical treatment schedule involves a series of three to five sessions averaging around $1,000 each over the course of as many months. Downtime is minimal — a few days to a week of redness, swelling, and possible bruising. The most common risks, though rare, include bleeding, infection, and hyper- or hypopigmentation.
Popular during the winter months in Dr. Emer’s practice is his “Tight + Bright” treatment, which combines a chemical peel with Halo™ laser and Morpheus8 treatments two weeks later. Patients can expect improvements in “sun damage, wrinkles, pores, scars, and pigmentation,” he says, along with tighter skin and improved contours.
Plastic Surgery Procedures to Consider for Winter
“Winter is really the best time to have cosmetic surgery done,” says California-based board certified plastic surgeon Michael Newman, MD, who adds that preparing for a procedure — from researching surgeons and booking consultations to getting on a surgeon’s calendar — can take months.
Additionally, patients may need to be “medically optimized,” which can mean anything from securing clearance from a primary care doctor or visiting a specialist to getting in better shape. Needless to say, those pieces can make the process take even longer, so it is important to consider the pre- and post-op time commitment when scheduling. “In order to be ‘summer ready,’ you need to start that process in the winter,” he shares.
Facial plastic surgery (i.e. facelifts, blepharoplasty, rhinoplasty) is popular during the winter months when it's easier for people to recover indoors and away from both the damaging effects of the sun and public scrutiny. Although the holiday season is the most popular time for surgical procedures due to both vacation time and insurance deductibles, patients who wait until January or February can often get their first choice of surgery dates — and still have time to recover before spring.
For patients considering breast surgery and body contouring work, the colder months (when it’s not unusual to be wearing bulkier clothing or hiding out at home) are an ideal time to book surgeries. Tummy tucks, breast augmentations, and mommy makeovers are popular this time of year in Dr. Newman’s practice. “It’s much easier for patients to bundle up and hide those areas of scarring and swelling,” he notes.
Liposuction is another popular wintertime cosmetic procedure, with patients looking to purge some of that holiday pudge in preparation for spring break. At a minimum, says Dr. Newman, patients undergoing any type of invasive aesthetic procedure should allow at least one month of healing time prior to any special event like a vacation. And, to be at your best, he recommends at least six months of recovery.
In case you needed another incentive to book a procedure over the winter, Dr. Newman has noticed that patients considering cosmetic surgery often have a greater incentive to stick to their New Year’s fitness resolutions. “For people trying to make lifestyle changes and thinking about the future, knowing that they need to be at their goal weight before surgery can be very motivating,” he says.