No medical aesthetic treatment, regardless of its track record with results, is a miracle worker on its own. Results of every custom non-surgical treatment plan will vary depending on the treatment itself, the skill of the medical aesthetics professional delivering the treatment, and how your skin reacts to the treatment, to start. However, your skin care practices before and after each aesthetic treatment can make a world of difference for your overall outcome, particularly for energy-based aesthetic procedures. Discover how pre- and post-treatment skin care can help you attain optimal results from your custom treatment plan and why it’s important to follow your provider’s recommendations.
Whatever the method of delivery or target outcome, aesthetic treatments work by essentially dealing some sort of controlled damage to targeted cells to obtain a specific aesthetic outcome, whether that is to target pigment spots in the skin or generate heat deep below the skin’s surface to stimulate collagen production, spur skin cell renewal, and firm up skin. Without the proper support via pre- and post-treatment skin care, skin may not properly heal. For this reason, it’s imperative to support skin health before each treatment and during its recovery to offer the best outcomes. In other words, the aesthetic treatment will certainly do the heavy lifting, but some skin care maintenance is needed for optimal results. The following are just some of the benefits of pre- and post-treatment skin care.
While preparation will vary by treatment modality and target outcome, avoiding tanning and extreme heat or steam, such as saunas and hot tubs, will help to ensure skin sensitivity isn’t heightened prior to your treatment. It is also important to consider what is placed on the skin before any medical aesthetic treatments as it may affect the outcome. Always begin with skin that’s clear of any makeup and avoid the use of skin creams, serums, or other moisturizers immediately prior to the treatment. While your provider should also cleanse skin first, this step should be seen as simply a way to remove any leftover traces of product or debris rather than a full cleanse. Depending on the treatment, you may also be asked to avoid the use of certain medications that may increase skin’s sensitivity.
The main targets of any post-treatment skin care routine include the following:
For non-surgical treatments that may increase skin’s sensitivity or leave the treatment area feeling warm to the touch, a calming skin care mask may be recommended for heat relief as well as a way to boost skin hydration and provide vital nutrients to the skin during the healing period. Ultra-moisturizing night creams and serums can also offer soothing effects as skin recovers from the day’s daily stressors overnight. However, before applying anything on your skin, be sure to first check with your treatment provider that it is safe, as some treatments, such as fractional skin resurfacing, may require that nothing touches the skin for a 24-hour period.
Implementing an effective skin care routine that soothes and minimizes the skin’s inflammatory response can also help to reduce your risk of PIH. More common in those with darker skin tones, PIH occurs when the skin produces too much melanin, or disperses it irregularly, in response to inflammation or injury. PIH is the skin’s natural overreaction to inflammation as a result of a cosmetic procedure. Post-treatment skin care containing anti-inflammatory ingredients such as niacinamide can help to reduce and control inflammation while lowering your risk of developing PIH. Niacinamide not only acts to support collagen production, but it also helps boost skin’s creation of ceramides, the lipids that make up skin’s lipid barrier, which both prevents skin damage and supports skin moisture for smoother, firmer, more radiant skin. Again, to ensure your skin reaps the best benefits, it’s best to ask for your treatment provider’s recommendation.
Finally, many aesthetic treatments, particularly ones that use Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) technology, can leave skin more sensitive to the sun’s damaging UV rays. To protect sensitive skin from sun damage, always use a sunscreen on the treatment area as well as all exposed skin and opt for a minimum SPF of 30. Ensure you’re applying—and reapplying—sunscreen correctly and avoid sun exposure whenever possible, particularly immediately following your treatment session.
As a note on collagen in skin care products, know that often the collagen molecules in topicals are much too large to penetrate through the skin’s surface to the dermis, where they are required for optimal skin health. Applying products that contain collagen proteins as an ingredient to the skin’s surface then won’t have any impact on the building of collagen post-treatment. As for those interested in oral collagen supplements as an alternative to skin care in boosting post-treatment skin health, know that the verdict is still out on the overall benefit of them. While they may offer a reasonable boost to the collagen-building effects of non-surgical medical aesthetic treatments, there is no guarantee that the body will process them in a way that ensures the proteins are delivered directly to the skin. For this reason, it’s best not to rely on them.
Results for some treatments may continue to improve in the several weeks or even months following your final treatment session. Supporting skin’s healing and renewal cycle during this time via proper skin care can boost overall results for a more impactful outcome.
Simply put, proper skin care complements cutting-edge treatments. While treatments improve skin health from deep below the surface and outward, skin care helps to seal in moisture and boost nutrients to the skin to ensure protection and resist further signs of premature aging.
Certified medical aesthetic treatment providers are well versed in the dos and don’ts of pre- and post-treatment skin care. For the best advice, seek out a trusted aesthetics professional who offers the treatment you’re considering to guide you in the right direction. Use the search field below to locate a certified provider near you so you may obtain the best results possible.