As winter winds down and spring sneaks up on us many start to notice how much of a beating that cold weather and harsh winds can affect your skin. Your face may feel dry, dull, or just flat out damaged. Even so, there’s no reason anyone should have to walk around feeling anything less than wonderful in their own skin. Luckily for us winter is the perfect time to begin solving all your skin troubles.

Right now the sun is considerably less intense than during the spring or summer months, which makes it a perfect time to consider laser treatments. Protecting yourself from UV light is a key component in any post-operative laser treatment care. Since most lasers work to target individual skin cells, the skin rejuvenation process begins to speed up. Although this leaves you with a fresh layer of skin, the treatment also leaves you more susceptible to sun damage. It is imperative that your new, healthy cells are protected from this. Personally, I always try to do my laser treatments around this time of the year to minimize possible environmental effects, and because I know I want my skin to be looking as refreshed as it can come summertime.

As tribute to the start of the new school year, I want to offer my readers a history lesson. The history of my craft, Plastic Surgery, is longer-standing than one might believe. True, the greatest advances upon which modern cosmetic and reconstructive surgeries have been built have occurred in the past century. However, the advances made prior to the turn of the twentieth century are the basis of my field of medicine.

Historians believe that the first reconstructive surgeries were performed in India around 600 B.C. Facial feature reconstructions were the most common procedures, as recorded in texts circa this era. In ancient India, criminals’ and traitors’ noses, ears and lips were commonly removed as punishment. To repair the wounds, skin was grafted from the forehead, cheeks or arms and stitched in place.

I'm often asked about the most common factors contributing to the aging process. Everyday exposure to the sun, pollution, and other factors in our environment contribute to the natural aging process. As residents of the Bay Area, we are fortunate to live in a very mild climate with lots of sunny days. However, this fortune comes at a price, as the sun is the number one enemy we battle in our quest to retain our youthful appearance.

Frequency and intensity of sun exposure accelerates the aging process, damages skin and increases the incidence of skin cancer. As such, part of any healthy lifestyle includes practicing sun safety. We start our lives with thin delicate baby skin and end up with thin delicate elder skin. The care we take to protect our skin really does make a difference. Wearing hats, sunglasses, protective clothing, and liberal use of sunscreen are necessary precautions to protect us from our infancy to our golden years.

What is it that keeps you from walking in this world with confidence?

A patient of mine started crying during a follow up appointment for her recent facelift. Her face looked beautiful, refreshed, rejuvenated and natural, so I asked her what was wrong. She said she was emotional because she had spent years feeling that her outer appearance looked old and tired, and did not reflect the vibrant woman she is. She is now being treated like an attractive woman again; like the woman she is on the inside. The change was empowering and uplifting.

Another patient had a similar reaction after her rhinoplasty (nose job). She said she had spent years worrying about her nose. She had been teased as a teenager about the hump on her nose and remained self-conscious about it as an adult. After the rhinoplasty, her self-consciousness about her nose no longer got in the way of her relationships with others. She is no longer talking to people and wondering, "what are they thinking about the defect on my nose." She feels free.

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Lafayette, CA 94549