In general, Retin-A is most effective in older patients who have some fine
facial wrinkles, or blotchy pigmented areas caused by sun damage. However, Retin-A
is often prescribed to younger, active individuals who want to combat the aging
effects of sun exposure. Patients who are planning to have a chemical peel
treatment are often instructed by their doctors to use Retin-A as a preparation
treatment; Retin-A thins the skin's outer layer, allowing the acid solution used
in a peel treatment to penetrate more deeply and evenly. Retin-A is not
recommended for pregnant women or nursing mothers, because its effects on the
fetus and nursing infant are still being studied.
Reactions/side-effects. Although no serious medical problems have
been associated with Retin-A, it's possible that its use could result in
temporary skin irritation and redness. If this happens, your doctor may
recommend a milder formulation.
As late as 1993, Retin-A had not received approval for use as an anti-aging
treatment from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It has received FDA
approval as an acne treatment, and doctors have been safely using it for this
purpose for more than two decades. However, the full scope of Retin-A's effects
and potential benefits continues to be investigated.
Beginning treatment. Your initial application of Retin-A will
include a lesson on how to continue your skin-care routine at home. After your
face has been washed thoroughly, a small amount of Retin-A, in either cream or
gel form, is rubbed over your face and nose. It's likely that a very gentle
formula will be used at the beginning - especially if you are younger or have a
fair complexion. You may be switched to a stronger formula after your skin
becomes accustomed to treatment.
Only a very small amount of Retin-A - a pea-sized dab - is needed to cover the
entire face. You will be instructed to apply Retin-A every night before you go
to bed. Because Retin-A is drying to the skin, your doctor may also recommend
that you apply a moisturizer once or twice a day. This routine is usually
continued for about eight months to a year, after which you'll be switched to a
less-frequent schedule of maintenance, with Retin-A applications only two or
three times per week. At periodic follow-up visits, your doctor may adjust the
strength of your prescription or its frequency of use. To maintain the benefits
of Retin-A, its use must be continued for a lifetime.
After treatment. It's normal to experience some redness,
irritation, itching, stinging, or skin dryness once you begin to use Retin-A.
However, you can expect these symptoms to gradually disappear as the skin
becomes acclimated to the treatment.
Caring for your new skin. Because Retin-A thins out the skin's
outer layer, you will need to consistently use a sun-block to protect yourself
from ultraviolet light, and you may have to discontinue using certain products
or cosmetics on your face.
Though the degree of change varies from person to person, with continued use of
Retin-A, you will begin to see subtle improvements in the texture and tone of
your skin. Retin-A users notice a rosy glow during the beginning months of use,
followed by the disappearance of fine lines and the shrinking of large pores.
After about six months, many Retin-A users report that wrinkles are barely
visible and that age spots have faded.
Please call us for a skin consultation
and product recommendations.
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