Dr. John Chi consults with a patient.

Photo by Sarah Crowder

With the new year upon us, it’s a good time to resolve to take better care of your skin, according to Dr. Gregory Branham and Dr. John Chi of the Washington University Facial Plastic Surgery Center.

The center, which specializes in reconstructive and cosmetic surgery, as well as aesthetic skin care, offers minimally invasive treatments for repairing and refreshing the damaged skin of the face. During winter, Branham says the dry, cold air can be harsh on the skin, which still also may be showing signs of damage from the summer sun. “Since people are ‘hibernating’ and spending little time in the sun, winter is the perfect time to retool your skin to get ready for the summer again.”

Laser resurfacing and chemical peels are great choices for rejuvenating the face this time of year, Chi notes. The center’s CO2 lasers remove outer skin cell layers to tighten the skin, minimize discoloration and diminish wrinkles. The relatively new treatment causes peeling during one to two weeks of down-time, significantly less time than older procedures of its kind, Chi adds.

A less aggressive treatment, the TCA chemical peel, strips away old skin and treats the live skin cells to correct fine lines and splotchy pigmentation, such as age and sun spots. “It sets back the clock, and smoothes and freshens your face,” Branham explains. The procedure also allows moisture to penetrate the skin better, he adds.

By prescription, topical treatments such as Carac and Retin-A are available. The creams speed up skin cell turnover to improve facial appearance. Over a period of three months, they can repair sun damage and smooth fine lines. While the results are delayed, there is no down-time, Chi notes. Another beneficial face cream, alpha hydroxy, is offered over-the-counter, he adds. “It’s good for stripping away cells and letting the skin absorb more moisture, but it won’t affect deeper damage.”

Drs. Branham and Chi agree that choosing skin care as a top priority is one of the best New Year’s resolutions you can make. “People underestimate how much dry skin and age spots can make you look older,” Branham says. “And there are easy, non-invasive ways to take care of these issues.” So, if you’re looking to fight the signs of aging and regain a more youthful appearance, the physicians at Washington University Facial Plastic Surgery Center can help you achieve a fresh face for the new year.

ON THE COVER: Facial plastic surgeons Dr. Gregory Branham and Dr. John Chi see patients at the Washington University Facial Plastic Surgery Center in Creve Coeur and the Center for Advanced Medicine. For more information, call 996-3880 or visit facialplasticsurgery.wustl.edu.

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