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Better skin in four weeks

Amanda Whitley

I spent my childhood summers slathered in baby oil, baking myself on our hot concrete path, soothed by the cool spray of the garden sprinkler. I was brown as a berry, something you’d probably be surprised to hear, given I’m naturally quite fair. A few decades on and I’ve the price for that sun worship, with a face and limbs covered in freckles.

To be honest, until recently, I figured what was done was done, and instead focussed on finding a good foundation to cover the spots and making sure both my daughters use 50+ religiously. But a recent Reveal facial assessment took a photo ‘underneath the skin’ and revealed sun damage, brown spots, red areas and more.

Underneath my skin. Not pretty.

Underneath my skin. Not pretty.

Look, it wasn’t pretty. The ‘brown spots’ were pretty confronting, and while Suzie said my skin was in really good condition for someone with fair skin living in Australia, her main concern was pigmentation, both sun and hormonally  induced as well my skin integrity – essentially premature loss of collagen and elastin due to environmental stress.

“Many women have pigmentation that is both due to UV exposure over years and hormonal stimulation, most commonly from being on the oral contraceptive pill at some stage, or from having children. The latter is called melasma and is an incredibly complex condition to treat, as opposed to sun damage,” says Suzie.

“Melasma is pigmentation caused when there is a spike in estrogen and progesterone and, while not affecting all women, is actually very common. Often, due to the deep nature of this pigment, it is not diagnosed correctly and can be exacerbated with the wrong treatment. It is crucial to identify clients that have melasma using skin imaging technology to avoid complications. Once diagnosed, the management of this melasma requires an individualised approach incorporating medical grade treatments and skincare actives.”

So, if you’re serious about sorting out your skin, it’s not just a matter of picking a few treatments and giving them a whirl. I have tried various things over the years—including laser and Omnilux (more on this one later)—but my approach was completely scattergun and not at all strategic. Suzie said we needed a plan.

“While we had identified you had melasma deep in the dermis of your skin, it was not presenting on the surface. What was on the surface and visible was sun induced pigmentation along with some broken capillaries, both consistent with a mis-spent youth soaking up the rays! The initial treatment plan was about the repair of that damage and began with three Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) treatments, spaced weekly. While this initial treatment course was designed to fade the pigmentation, my concern about the loss of collagen led me to prescribe a full course of Omnilux Medical at the same time.”

After I’d completed that course, we sat down to assess my skin’s response and decided to repair some broken capillaries using an Nd:Yag (Excel) laser.

This is probably all Greek to you, so let’s break it down.

Intense Pulsed Light (IPL)

IPL is a fantastic way to lighten pigmentation and to reduce redness, toning the skin. When treating pigmentation, the IPL emits a pulse of light at a wavelength that is absorbed by the melanin in the pigmented lesion—this heats up the melanin, whilst leaving the surrounding skin cool, causes the particles of melanin to break up into smaller particles which the body then removes via its natural waste processes.

At your IPL treatment, the nurse applies a cooling gel and gives you appropriate eye wear. The treatment feels like a sharp, hot flick on the skin—it’s not a continuous ‘zap’ so that makes it far easier to tolerate. It’s not pleasant but it’s not unbearable (and you can squeeze on a stress ball if you need to!)

Because I had so much surface pigmentation I looked a little like Morgan Freeman after the first treatment; however, the dark patches of pigment on my cheeks and forehead must not have been too noticeable, because it took three days for my husband to say, ‘you’ve got something on your face’. So observant. With each subsequent treatment, the amount of melanin that came to the surface became less and less, and I’m honestly quite staggered by how few noticeable freckles I now have on my face. There are still some patches of pigmentation, but they’re very light and easily covered with a light tinted moisturiser.

Omnilux Medical

Ok, this is quite possibly my favourite thing ever. What you do is go in, lie down, lay under a lamp that shines warm light onto your face, try not to fall asleep (or give in and take a sneaky nap), get up after 20 minutes and go about the rest of your day.

Omnilux is a non-invasive LED that stimulates collagen, elastin and hyaluronic acid in your skin, essentially strengthening your skin and rehydrating it from the inside out. With my skin, the nurses rotated the the Omnilux plus™ (red lamp) in combination with Omnilux revive™ (white lamp). Omnilux revive™  stimulates fibroblasts, the cells responsible for producing collagen and elastin, and the Omnilux plus™ stimulates fibro-myoblasts, the cells responsible for the nice, tight, even structure of collagen and elastin in young skin. It also stimulates cells responsible for ridding the skin of toxins.

The lamp is placed quite close to your face, with the red light being quite warm – I can’t tell you the amount of times I found myself drifting off when I was under this one! The results were really quite striking – I had a number of people tell me I was glowing and ask me if I was using an luminising foundation (I wasn’t) or pregnant (hells no). But, quite seriously, even if I didn’t get such great results, it was just nice being able to lie down for 30 minutes in the middle of the day twice a week!

Excel Laser

IPL is fantastic for fine, superficial vessels but struggles with deeper, larger vessels—the Excel laser essentially coagulates and collapses veins. What does it feel like? Well, the laser cools the area right down first – kinda like someone rubbing an ice cube over your skin but without the wetness. Once your skin is really, really cold the nurse zaps the capillary. It’s a short, sharp flick that’s far less hurty than the IPL and pretty much just makes the capillaries vanish!

Suzie cautions that you may require multiple treatments to reduce the vessels. You can find more information on the treatment and expected results on the Clear Complexions website.

Maintenance

This kind of treatment requires a significant investment in terms of time and money – for four weeks, I spent two lunch times per week at Clear Complexions undertaking various procedures. But it was so worth it…my skin has not looked this good in probably 10+ years (before kids and the lovely melasma they brought with them). But it’s not as if I can proclaim myself ‘cured’ and never do anything again.

“When I look after a client like you, I think what are the main issues or damage I need to repair and how can I ensure you have the healthiest skin possible in five years’ time? The ‘quick fix’ is relatively easy, but knowing how to really care for your skin into the future is the key to looking your best at any age,” says Suzie.

“Once we have repaired any damage you are concerned about, I need to ensure we keep that result for as long as possible taking into account your lifestyle and possible ongoing environmental exposure, as well as genetic or intrinsic ageing. We review our clients ideally every three months to ensure they are on the right track with their skin and that the treatments and skincare they are using are the very best technology has to offer and right for them at that time.”

Rationale-Essential-Six

Good skincare is also incredibly important. I was prescribed products from the Rationale and Ultraceuticals ranges – both of which I’d used before (and loved) but without guidance, so I didn’t really understand what I was using or why.

“We have all tried ‘hope in a jar’ over the years and have been disappointed by the results. Cosmeceuticals, or medicated skincare, will improve the health of your skin, directly addressing your skins concerns and yielding incredible results, all in a relatively quick timeframe. Once you have the antioxidants and actives your skin needs, given the environmental damage it may have sustained, the improvement is dramatic.”

 The bottom line

For me, this whole experience has been quite fascinating, because there are a whole heap of treatments out there that I had absolutely no idea about. I didn’t realise I could get rid of pigmentation so quickly,  I didn’t know you could get treatment for broken capillaries, and I had no idea that I could get rid of the little red dots (cherry angiomas) that I have all over my body (I’ve had them zapped too!) The lesson for me as a self-confessed ‘self prescriber’ has been to stop doing the Dr Google thing and to actually go and see someone who does this for a living—because the results have been pretty amazing.

This is the make-up free ‘after’ selfie, taken this morning in natural light. I am tiiiirrrred after running a conference all weekend, so the shadows under my eyes are quite pronounced – but they weren’t the target of the treatment regime (perhaps a future one!) As you can see, there’s very little visible pigmentation and my skin looks nice and plump.

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Special offer for HerCanberra readers

Just mention this offer when you call Clear Complexions. Valid until 1 November 2015. To find a clinic near you, visit www.clearcomplexions.com.au.

special offer

the essentials

What: Clear + Brilliant from Clear Complexions
Where: Bruce, Woden and Gungahlin – visit the website for clinic details
When: Visit the website for clinic opening hours
Web: www.clearcomplexions.com.au

This is a sponsored post but opinions are the author’s own. It complies with the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission’s guidelines on Online ReviewsRead our Sponsored Post Policy if you would like more information. The author received her treatments free of charge from Clear Complexions.

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Amanda Whitley

Amanda Whitley is the founder and director of HerCanberra. In her 'spare time', she instructs zumba, loves to cook (and eat), and wrangles two gorgeous little girls. She's done everything from present the tv news to operate a stop and go sign and is passionate about connecting Canberra women. More about the Author

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