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Common Myths I Hear around Cosmetic Treatments

Social media is great, as is Google. However, they often convey myths around cosmetic treatments that are not always true. 

While many doctors hate it when patients have googled their probably symptoms/ concerns (because more often than not, the presumed diagnosis is incorrect), I don't mind it because it gives me some idea as to what a patient's concerns are, and a starting point on where to begin educating them.

In saying that, when I repeatedly get the same questions in consultations, or via DMs or when I invite questions, it's time for a PSA.

Read on to find out some of the commonest questions I encounter around skincare and cosmetic treatments by patients considering one or both!

Myth #1: Moisturiser makes oily skin worse.

While this makes sense in theory, the reality is paradoxical. I regularly meet patients with persistent mild/ moderate acne who use multiple anti-acne agents including some really drying ones like benzoyl peroxide, AHAs and BHAs and more, but won't use moisturiser because their skin feels "always oily"

Oily skin needs a light, non comedogenic moisturiser. When you strip moisture from your skin's surface, your skin reacts by producing more sebum and oil, some of which can clog up pores and cause more acne. It becomes a vicious cycle and the way to break that is by doing what seem counterintuitive - moisturising, and staying away from overly drying products or combining them without medical oversight.

Myth #2 : You don't need sunscreen and sun protection if you have dark skin.

This is a common one. Related to this, sun protection is mainly for people who burn, not those who tan because tanning indicates sun damage. 

Tanning Darker skin has some inbuilt sun protection - it's estimated that a much darker skin type can confer a natural spf of around 10- 13, which effectively screens out some 90% of UV rays. This is why, we have sayings like "black don't crack" and "Asians don't raisin" because the more pigment you are naturally born with, the more inbuilt protection you have compared to someone with very fair skin, who's more likely to burn.

In saying that, even with an inbuilt spf of 10-13, you're only screening out some 90% of UV rays, leaving the other 10% to regularly damage your skin and risk skin cancers over time.

My general advice for anyone I see in clinic, for skin cancer checks as well as for advice on ageing well, is to begin with daily sun protection - SPF 30+, reapplied regularly if you'll be out and about + sunhat, sunglasses, shade and protective clothing.

Myth #3 : If you begin using anti wrinkle treatments, you can't ever stop because the wrinkles will be worse when you do.

This is a myth and fearmongering at its worst.

anti wrinkle facial treatments
Anti wrinkle treatments work by relaxing muscles that are active in facial movements that allow us to be animated. Over time, and with aging, as skin thins due to collagen loss, these muscles create furrows and grooves in our skin, much like track marks by a vehicle using the same route over and over on a dirt road.

When these muscles are regularly and repetitively treated, they weaken and cannot make as much of a groove and over time, the lines, if present, become fainter.

If, after 2,3 or 5 or more years, you were to decide to stop using anti wrinkle treatments, your muscles won't regain their prior strength immediately. Over time and with ongoing muscle use during animation, you'll regain strength and the lines will likely come back, but it won't be immediate and it may take months or longer for the wrinkles to return full force.

Myth #4 : Anti Wrinkle treatment can treat all types of wrinkles

There are lines, and then there are lines, which is why it takes an experienced and skilled injector to know what lines you mean when you raise it as a concern, and whether it is lines that anti wrinkle treatment can improve eg frown lines, forehead lines, crows feet, or lines that are due to volume loss in the face, that cannot be improved by anti wrinkle injections, and which may give rise to odd movements if attempted eg smile lines, which can be improved by volume replacement, such as with collagen induction therapies and (dermal) fillers.

accordion lines
Equally, some lines are present due to lifestyle factors. If you sleep on your side, or on your abdomen, you will be smushing your face into your pillow and over time, these may show up as lines on your face, especially forehead, that are not amenable to treatment to improve them.



Myth #5: Lip Filler will give you duck lips

Lip filler, in my experience, like filler around the eyes, are hard to do well due to the fact that these are among the most mobile parts of the face, and filler an move over time, and migrate in these areas.

Duck lips; underdeveloped chin


Equally, if one has an underdeveloped lower face/ chin, getting lip filler without treating the lower face as a unit, can give the appearance of a Marge Simpson/ duck lip look that can be jarring and worse.

Done well, lip filler can be subtle and natural so choose your clinician wisely! Dissolving badly done lip filler can be expensive!






Myth #6 : I should get the same results with the same dose as my sister/ friend/ cousin.

No two faces are the same, even in identical twins, nor are their healing processes, and eventual outcome unless we treat them in a vacuum and expose them to the same aftercare conditions, which would have ethical problems.

friends I commonly see patients referred by a friend or sibling who's been happy with their results, to us. The expectation is, because she had great results with x units of anti wrinkle or y mls of filler, so should I.

I see sisters who routinely talk to each other about their treatments with us, and compare to decide if the other should have it too and I encourage caution - while it is ok to compare notes, it's equally important to be aware that no two faces are the same, even among siblings and as such, your dosage and skin needs will almost guaranteed, be different to that of your referrer.

It's good to have a starting point to guide your expectations and budget, but that is why we have a consultation process, so you can get an upfront assessment and diagnosis and accurate quote for your concerns and associated cost. It's unreasonable and impossible to expect the same results as someone else who is not you, with your unique anatomy, physiology and lifestyle.

Myth #7: Cosmetic Treatments are guaranteed

Related to the last myth, this is another common expectation I see and hear about.

Unlike hair and makeup, where the technician essentially works on a blank canvas of skin or hair, skin is a living and breathing organ and as such, responds and reacts to anything we do to it especially if that involves breaking the skin barrier.

With injectables, we place drugs under the skin surface, along layers - on bone, under muscle and these move alongside facial movement, and may migrate due to these movements on occasion leading to lumps and bumps as well as asymmetry since none of us is completely symmetrical.

As such, it's important during consultation for patients to have the discussion that while their treating doctor does their best, with their experience and knowledge and even if results are mostly symmetrical immediately post treatment, in the coming days and weeks, after swelling and bruising has settled, asymmetry may nonetheless persist, and need correction due to individual anatomy and physiology. Results can never be guaranteed with any procedures, including surgery which is why patients read and sign a consent to this effect so they walk in with eyes wide open. At Skin Essentials, it is why we dedicate so much time and effort in our first consultation with you, and prior to any involved procedures, so you understand the limitations of what is possible and potential adverse outcomes.

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