Expert-recommended treatments and products to help get us summer-ready from the neck down.
Come summertime, maintaining a regular shaving routine can be exhausting, not to mention the risk of ingrown hairs right before a beach trip. Laser hair removal can eliminate the issue entirely “by utilizing a wavelength of light and heat to damage the growth area of the hair near the root,” explains Nanuet, NY dermatologist Heidi Waldorf, MD. “Each treatment will destroy 10 to 30 percent of the hair, and it takes three to five treatments at intervals of six to eight weeks to see a 70 to 90 percent reduction.” Although some wavelengths, like the diode, can be used for both light and dark skin tones, Dr. Waldorf prefers the long pulse Nd:YAG laser for darker skin tones, and the long pulse Alexandrite laser for lighter skin tones.
Though the results of laser hair removal last a long time, New York dermatologist Elaine F. Kung, MD says maintenance treatments may be needed once every six to 12 months if small vellus hairs (peach fuzz) grow back. At-home devices are great for maintenance as well, or full-blown DIY hair removal. One innovative device we like is Silk’n Infinity ($322), which uses galvanic energy to open up the pores so the Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) can penetrate to the root of the hair follicle. Another is SmoothSkin Pure Fit ($323), which employs quick pulses of IPL to permanently remove hair, and can treat the full body in 10 minutes.
It really helps contour and strengthen an area, but it is not intended for weight loss.
Fat Reduction + Muscle Toning
When the goal is to reduce fat and tone muscles, noninvasive Emsculpt NEO is the perfect way to prep for a bikini bod (when paired with a healthy lifestyle of course). “It combines two treatments to build muscle and reduce fat in just 30 minutes,” explains Fresno, CA dermatologist Kathleen Behr, MD. “HIFEM—high-intensity focused electromagnetic stimulation—is used to build up to 25-percent more muscle, while radio frequency is used at the same time to eliminate up to 30-percent fat. It is a very comfortable treatment that can be performed on the abdomen, outer thighs, buttocks, arms, calves, and most recently, the flanks. It really helps contour and strengthen an area, but is not intended for weight loss.” (Liposuction is still the gold standard in fat reduction.) Usually four to eight weekly treatments are performed on patients with a BMI up to 35. Therefore, it’s ideal to begin treatments in early April if the goal is to see full results by mid-June.
Another body-sculpting treatment called Cryo T-Shock is a favorite of Paris Hilton and other A-listers, and Miami-based aesthetician Amy Peterson is a fan as well. “It uses a combination of heating and cooling to break down fat cells, which the body will then naturally flush out through the lymphatic system,” she says. “We typically recommend five to 10 sessions spaced 10 to 14 days apart, so beginning in early April with this one is also beneficial.”
To complement these treatments with at-home care, Peterson suggests her clients use Alastin TransFORM Body Treatment ($205). “This cream was designed to be used in synergy with energy-based fatreduction and skin-tightening procedures, and addresses skin laxity and crepiness.”
Undoubtedly one of the toughest body concerns to treat is cellulite, which impacts 90 percent of women and demand for effective treatments is greater than ever. This year, noninvasive skin-tightening treatment Sofwave gained FDA-approval for temporary cellulite reduction. It uses high-frequency, low-divergence ultrasound and heat to target dimples. “Sofwave provides a unique balance of efficacy without downtime,” says Houston dermatologist Jennifer Segal, MD. “Unlike more invasive treatments, which are better-suited to colder months when you can be covered during healing, Sofwave can be performed year-round.”
Two other FDA-cleared treatments for cellulite are noninvasive Resonic, which sends high-frequency sound waves into the skin to reduce dimples; and Avéli, a device that is inserted under the skin to release the septa bands causing dimples. Only one session is needed with all three of these treatments, but full results may take up to 12 weeks.
The bumps typically show up on the backs of the arms and tops of the thighs.
Keratosis Pilaris (KP)
Keratosis pilaris, aka KP, which shows up as tiny red or pink bumps and makes skin feel rough, can be embarrassing enough to keep someone in long sleeves come mid-July. “The bumps typically show up on the backs of the arms and tops of the thighs, and need regular treatment to promote and maintain smoother skin,” Dr. Waldorf explains.
Dr. Kung recommends using “moisturizing creams with chemical exfoliants like glycolic acid, rather than physical scrubs.” Her favorites are lactic acid–based AmLactin KP Bumps Be Gone ($15), and Glytone Exfoliating Body Lotion ($44), which contains 17.5-percent glycolic acid. Peterson is a big fan of Environ Alpha Hydroxy Derma-Lac Lotion ($72) and says it is one of the only body products she’s found that “truly softens the texture of rough, bumpy skin.”
While we’re still waiting for an in-office treatment that can make KP disappear instantly, Dr. Kung says there have been many small-case reports of lasers that can help improve its appearance. “I use the Lumenis Stellar M22 Intense Pulse Light, which reduces the redness surrounding the hair follicles after three treatments spaced four weeks apart.” Peterson also favors a no-downtime body peel called BioRePeel Gold, which “dissolves the bonds between skin cells to carefully remove the top layer of skin, revealing the glowing, smooth layer underneath.”
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