YOU Magazine - September 2008 - Turning Back the Clock The Skinny on Restoring Your Skin
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Kathleen Petty     Kathleen Petty
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Turning Back the Clock
The Skinny on Restoring Your Skin

Turning Back the Clock - The Skinny on Restoring Your Skin

Skin is one of our more important features. Aesthetically speaking, healthy skin keeps us looking young and vital. In turn, damaged or flawed skin propels others to make judgments about everything from our lifestyle to our age. If you are unhappy with the condition of your skin follow along as we show you how to...turn back the clock.

In the spirit of seeking out some expert advice, YOU Magazine sat down with board certified dermatologist and star of television's Dr. 90210, Doctor Will Kirby, to talk about some of the more common types of skin damage, as well as the various methods for treatment.

Sun Damage
Dr. Kirby says that Photoaging (aging brought on by the sun) is responsible for 70 to 80 percent of the skin conditions that he treats. Kirby's experience with sun damage started when he was diagnosed with skin cancer at the age of 29. Born in Italy and raised in Florida he says, "I used to tan all the time." He has since curbed that past time, adopting a completely different mindset.

Dr. Kirby maintains that the best treatment for younger-looking skin is a proactive one. He starts with the assertion that quality sunscreen should be worn every single day, especially by those with lighter features. Long sleeves, hats and sunglasses are a must for activities that require a longer exposure to the sun.

Dr. Kirby says that due to the amount of time spent driving, tinting your car windows is also a good idea. "This is why many people over the age of 50 have considerably more sun damage on the left side of their face," he adds.

The physical effects of sun-damaged skin start with a condition known as Dyschromia, more commonly referred to as "sun spots" or "liver spots". Dr. Kirby says these spots are the result of pigment created by our bodies as a way of protecting skin cells. He asserts that while the immediate result is an uneven complexion, the spots can lead to pre-cancerous conditions and even skin cancer.

According to Dr. Kirby, the variance in severity makes it difficult to recommend one type of treatment for sun damage. In less extreme cases he may prescribe the use of a Retinoid, a topical restorative cream made up of compounds that are chemically similar to Vitamin A. But in more extreme cases, treatments such as chemical peels and laser resurfacing may be necessary.

"Quoting a price is also difficult," says Kirby. He says that you should, however, expect to see your dermatologist every six to eight weeks in order to properly monitor and treat your condition.

While they technically don't fall under the category of skin damage, the subject of tattoos is a familiar one for Dr. Kirby. Considered to be one of the leading experts in tattoo removal, Dr. Kirby serves as medical director for the three Dr. Tattoff clinics within southern California. His clinics are responsible for more tattoo removals than anywhere in the country.

"There are countless reasons why a patient wants their tattoo removed," he begins. Foremost, many patients regret what they received. It can be anything from a former spouse's name to a tattoo that was done badly, or no longer suits the recipient's taste. "Fraternity letters, Asian symbols, tribal art, and cartoon characters are recurring themes for many of the tattoos I remove," he says, adding that many times the patient doesn't want the tattoo completely removed, but simply lightened so a cover up tattoo can be placed over it.

When asked about the treatment itself, Dr. Kirby told us that it starts with a laser that has the ability to destroy ink pigments. He likens it to using a hammer to smash a piece of glass. Once the ink has been "shattered", our immune system does the rest and the ink starts to fade. Dr. Kirby says that most tattoos can be removed with 5 to 15 treatments. Much, however, depends on the amount of ink, the color of the ink, the location of the tattoo, and the quality of the patient's immune system.

Since pain is an issue commonly associated with tattoo removal we asked the doctor for his honest opinion on the subject. "It's uncomfortable but definitely tolerable," he claims. Dr. Kirby explained that he starts off all tattoo removal procedures by applying a topical numbing cream over the tattoo. The good news he says is that the procedure itself is very fast. He does admit, however, that the amount of ink in the tattoo, as well as where it is placed, has a lot to do with the level of discomfort during its removal.

Another bit of good news is the price. We were surprised to find out that Dr. Kirby charges only $39 per square inch (per treatment). A fairly affordable cost when you think about the end result.

Dr. Kirby's last bit of advice on the subject of tattoos – "If you're going to get one, get it in black ink, have it professionally done, and keep it in the upper portion of the body." These three factors along with one state-of-the-art laser allow for much easier removal if the need arises.

Wrinkles, Lips and Scars...
A dreaded effect of aging, wrinkles are something most of us could do without. If you can relate to this sentiment, Dr. Kirby suggests looking into Botox treatments, a procedure that he is a huge proponent of.

"Botox works both curatively and preventatively," he explained. A neurotoxin protein created by the bacterium responsible for Botulism, Botox is one of the most poisonous natural substances in the world. In minute doses, however, it is not only safe it is also a highly effective method for removing wrinkles. But that's not all. Botox is also great for controlling migraines and tension headaches, as well as reducing excess sweating and muscle spasms. In layman's terms, the toxins in Botox interfere with nerve impulses and cause a temporary paralysis of the muscles responsible for the aforementioned conditions.

For wrinkles, Dr. Kirby says the positive effects of a Botox treatment will last 3 months with the average facial treatment costing about $300. In terms of excess sweating, effects will last six months. However, you should figure on spending $1,500 to have your underarms treated with Botox.

Dr. Kirby says another issue he sees quite frequently is that of lackluster lips. Sometimes an issue of genetics, aging is also to blame for a loss of voluptuousness. Whatever the reason, Kirby says there are several quality fillers that can be injected.

Lip procedures take about 30 minutes and cost about $700. Dr. Kirby says it's normal to experience some swelling and bruising for the first couple of days, but some amazing results thereafter. You can expect most lip enhancements to last anywhere from six to eight months.

Regarding the issue of scar removal Dr. Kirby says the procedure of choice completely depends on the type of scar, as well as its severity. While improvements are possible Kirby says, "A patient needs to understand that many times they are trading their scar for a smaller scar, or discoloration." The reason he says is that once the skin has been mechanically altered, complete restoration is very difficult. In other words, make sure you ask your dermatologist or cosmetic surgeon plenty of questions.

Final Advice
On the subject of skin products Kirby says, "You can spend a lot of money on a great product, or you can spend a little money on a great product." In terms of the latter, Dr. Kirby loves the Neutrogena brand for its quality, accessibility and low price. He especially likes their sunscreen and retinol creams.

Dr. Kirby reiterated that the best way to keep your skin looking great is to protect yourself from the sun with the daily use of a quality sunscreen. While he also says that a healthy lifestyle and a diet containing antioxidants is never bad, he claims that one of the best things you can do is to not smoke cigarettes. According to the doctor, the basal constriction associated with smoking wreaks havoc on facial skin, causing it to age much faster than with nonsmokers.

To catch a glimpse of Dr. Kirby in action, be sure to watch the video attached to this article. Follow along as correspondent, Jill Wilderman, has a front row seat for the removal of a patient's tattoo.

Good luck with turning back the clock and here's to great skin!

Dr. Will Kirby is one of America's top Dermatologists. Dr. Kirby earned his undergraduate degree in Biology from Emory University – College of Arts & Sciences. He received his medical degree from Nova Southeastern University – College of Osteopathic Medicine in 2000 and did his first year of postgraduate medical training in internal medicine at Mount Sinai Medical Center & Miami Heart Institute in Miami Beach, Florida. His dermatology residency training took place in association with Western University/Pacific Hospital of Long Beach where he served as Chief Resident in the Department of Dermatology.

For more information on Dr. Will Kirby, as well as the services he provides, log on to

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