As the Director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research in the Dermatology Department at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan, Dr. Zeichner treats almost every kind of skin condition. He addresses particular medical issues like acne, eczema, rosacea and skin cancer, as well as cosmetic concerns, from a perspective of overall skin health. Board Certified in Dermatology, Dr. Zeichner is an expert in treating the signs of aging by improving the appearance of wrinkles, fine lines, dark spots and volume loss. Here, Dr. Zeichner answers our questions on how to achieve healthier skin and sets the record straight on some skincare misperceptions.
1. What would you like readers to know about your work?
I believe in total skin health. This encompasses treatment of not only patients’ medical skin conditions, but also their cosmetic concerns.
2. What are some of the rewards you experience in your work?
Some skin conditions, such as skin cancer, are potentially fatal. Making an early diagnosis can lead to a cure. As a dermatologist, I have the opportunity to detect skin cancers and prevent patients from suffering from advanced disease. Other skin conditions, like acne, are not fatal but can lead to significant psychosocial distress. Acne is my favorite skin disease to treat. The biggest reward I can get is seeing my acne patients on a follow-up visit with clear skin. The patients are happy and their social interactions with other people are much improved.
3. What are some exciting developments in the area of dermatology that you expect will make an important impact on skin care and/or cosmetic treatments?
There are lots of exciting new products, medications, and devices on the market for the skin. New generations of old medicines are being improved.
For example, some of the newest topical acne medications are combinations of tried-and-true ingredients, but in a once-a-day dosing and a non-irritating base. If a medicine is convenient to use and does not irritate the skin, the patient will use it!
In terms of cosmetic treatments, the newest generation of facial fillers (eg. Restylane-L / Perlane-L and Juvederm-XC) now include lidocaine so that the process of having the procedure is more comfortable.
Finally, the newest lasers for skin resurfacing are “fractionated” so patients can enjoy the same benefits, but with less healing time.
4. As Director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research in the Dermatology Department at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan, you treat all skin conditions, from acne to skin cancer. What general advice do you find yourself most frequently giving to patients who want better skin?
There are two important messages I give to everyone, whether the patient has a medical or cosmetic issue.
First, sun protection is important. Use your sunscreen. It will prevent ultraviolet light-related skin damage, which can lead not only to skin cancers, but also lines, wrinkles, dark spots, and dilated blood vessels. The message is: prevention, prevention, prevention.
The second message is that if you have a question, make an appointment and ask your dermatologist about it! Your dermatologist knows what spots are worrisome, and which are not. Plus, almost everyone has cosmetic concerns. There are many ways to improve cosmetic issues in a non-invasive way. Your dermatologist can recommend many helpful over-the-counter and prescription creams, some oral medications, and in-office procedures.
5. Around what age should a person start utilizing anti-aging ingredients in his/her skincare regimen?
It is never too early to protect your skin and to try to prevent aging!
6. As your specialty is rejuvenating the aging face, what are some common misconceptions that people have about aging skin?
Patients have many misconceptions about improving aging skin. First, while we can improve signs of sun-related damage, we cannot bring the skin back to what it would have been had it been protected. I have tools to improve the skin, but again, prevention is key!
Second, facial rejuvenation may mean more than just improving your nasolabial folds. Everyone has age-related volume loss of the face. As we get older, our eyes get hollow, cheeks drop, nasolabial folds become pronounced and jowels sag. All of these components work together. In addition, use of a little botulinum toxin (i.e., Botox) will help relax lines caused by years of muscle contraction. In order to rejuvenate the face fully, all of these areas need to be addressed.
7. In your experience, what are the most important precautions a person can take to prevent signs of aging?
While it may seem repetitive, sun protection is the most important way to prevent the signs of aging. Separate from that, patients should enjoy a healthy lifestyle. Overall health is reflected in your skin.
Also, take a look at how your older family members aged; much of how we age is determined by our genes. Finally, there are prescription creams (e.g., treintoin), which have been shown to be effective at improving fine lines and, in some people, preventing them from developing.
8. You work in both medical and cosmetic dermatology. What are the latest treatments offered at your practice for people who want to look younger and have healthier skin? For instance, how do you effectively treat concerns like wrinkles, dark spots, fine lines and blood vessels?
I can offer several in-office procedures. Laser treatments include: 1) pulsed dye laser (e.g., V-Beam) for red spots and dilated blood vessels; 2) Nd:YAG laser for brown spots; 3) fractionated resurfacing laser (e.g., Fraxel) for fine lines, pigmentation and overall rejuvenation.
In-office procedures include Botox for lines we get from our facial muscles, as well as dermal fillers (e.g., Restylane/Perlane and Juvederm) to replace the volume we lose as we get older.
Other treatments available include chemical peels, hair removal and microdermabrasion.
9. Since you also specialize in the treatment of acne, what are some of the most effective products/active ingredients you recommend for your patients?
There are three key ingredients in medications for acne. These are benzoyl peroxide, antibiotics and retinoids. These ingredients come in various topical preparations and pills, and they have been developed at different concentrations, combinations and topical formulations. I speak to my patients about their skin type and personal preferences to customize a regimen that suits their needs.
10. What are some of the most common mistakes you see people making when it comes to skin care?
A common mistake people make is that they use too many products, which may end up irritating the skin. More is not necessarily better. Plus, more expensive does not necessarily translate into more effective. There are a lot of great products on the market, and some of them can be purchased at your local pharmacy.
11. What are some of the most significant steps a person can take to improve the health of his or her skin?
The first and most significant step a patient can take to improve his or her skin is to seek out help from a professional. Make an appointment to see your dermatologist. If you don’t ask, you won’t be able to get help.
Do you have other pressing skincare concerns for Dr. Zeichner? Contact us with your questions and it’s possible we may include them in a future Q&A.