Menopause and Your Skin

By on August 1, 2011

By Dr. Brandith Irwin –

“These aren’t hot flashes, they’re power surges” (anonymous).

Menopause can bring some frustrating new issues for your skin, or even bad flashbacks to your teen years with problems like acne. But take heart — remember that there are the good changes with menopause too.

Oil production is less after menopause, which gets rid of acne (eventually) and helps to shrink pore size. Your skin is more consistent and not subject to pre-menopausal fluctuation. Many wrinkles can be prevented and treated with good topicals, good nutrition, and modern technology.

And you’ve never had more confidence and self acceptance of your own beauty, because you’re more comfortable with who you are.

Three major concerns around menopause are hormone replacement, acne, and melasma. I’ll discuss hormone replacement therapy and peri-menopausal acne here in this article. And I’ll give you the link to my In Depth article on Melasma.

See Dr. Irwin’s Melasma In Depth article for more information.

But first, let me give you my tips for keeping your skin glowing after menopause.

WAYS TO KEEP SKIN GLOWING AFTER MENOPAUSE

Building collagen and elastic fibers is the best way to keep our skin youthful.

Creams that build collagen. Anything that builds collagen in your skin will help to maintain that youthful thickness, glow, and reflectivity. Renova/Tazorac/Retin-A/tretinon are all names for prescription vitamin-A creams.

These are still the gold standard for collagen-building creams in the skin. There is 20 years of good data and millions of satisfied patients to support using these vitamin-A cousins, also called retinoids. There is also evidence to support using good-quality vitamin-C serums (Like Cellex-C or Waimea Vitamin C Serum) to build collagen. Alpha and beta hydroxy acids are known to build collagen as well.

Scrubs. Creams that help to shed the outer, dead layer of the skin build collagen because they send a signal to the deeper layers of the skin to become more active. These are gentle scrubs, and there are many good ones on the market. Try Bobbi Brown’s Skin Refining Cream. Don’t over do these, particularly if you have sensitive skin. Twice a week is fine. If you have very tough, oily skin, a gentle scrub daily may be okay.

Injectables that build collagen. The only injectable that really builds collagen currently is Sculptra. Sculptra is a different form of lactic acid our muscles naturally produce. When it is injected, the Sculptra sends a signal to the cells that make collagen to make more of it. Gradually the Sculptra is absorbed by the body, just like lactic acid in our muscles. Patients end up with more collagen and more youthful skin. (Note: Sculptra is FDA-approved for HIV, with broader approval pending).

See Dr. Irwin’s Guide to Sculptra for more information.

Lasers that build collagen. Long-wave lasers are known to build collagen (Smoothbeam, Cooltouch, Aramis). Photorejuvenation with intense pulse light devices, or IPLs, also sends a signal to the skin to make more collagen. With these treatments, the texture and tone of the skin should all improve some. These are not dramatic but every little bit helps. Five monthly treatments should give you results, followed by once or twice a year for maintenance. Used over many years, they can help to maintain a youthful appearance to skin.

Light resurfacing lasers. Light erbium lasers, plasma, and fractional resurfacing devices all build collagen. Erbium lasers have a long track record. Fractional lasers, which are excellent for brown spots, acne scarring, and other issues, seem to have a dramatic effect in some patients, while in others, not much. And because collagen is built over time, we do not have a lot of long-term science on the effect of fractional lasers on collagen-building. Because they are expensive, running between $3,000 and $5,000 for an initial series, you may want to wait until they are consistently effective (unless money is no object). Over the next few years, more science will come in, and protocols should be worked out so that results are more predictable and reliable.

See Dr. Irwin’s Guide to Fractional Lasers for more information.

Dr. Brandith Irwin is a board-certified Dermatologist who has been a guest medical expert on The Oprah Winfrey Show and the Weekend Today Show. She is the author of The Surgery-Free Makeover and Your Best Face: Looking Your Best Without Plastic Surgery! Dr. Irwin created http://www.skintour.com/ to provide expert, unbiased skincare information to the public. She has no financial ties to any cosmetic company and all of the content on SkinTour comes directly from her.

About Dr. Brandith Irwin

Dr. Brandith Irwin is a board-certified Dermatologist who has been a guest medical expert on The Oprah Winfrey Show and the Weekend Today Show. She is the author of The Surgery-Free Makeover and Your Best Face: Looking Your Best Without Plastic Surgery! Dr. Irwin created www.SkinTour.com to provide expert, unbiased skincare information to the public. She has no financial ties to any cosmetic company and all of the content on SkinTour comes directly from her.

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Menopause and Your Skin