Skin Spots and What to Do About Them

If you notice a spot on your skin, you should not panic, but you also should not ignore it.  In fact, all skin spots need to be assessed by a healthcare professional to rule out the worst case scenario of skin cancer.  Fortunately, the overwhelmingly vast majority of the spots on the skin are not cancerous or even pre-cancerous.

Assuming your particular spots are not the worrisome kind as assessed by your primary care doctor or a skin care doctor like myself, most people still do not like the appearance of their skin looking blotchy, discolored, or irregular.  Our natural tendency is to want the skin to look even in tone and color for our skin type.

Most of these skin discolorations are called hyperpigmentation, meaning excessive pigment deposited in the skin.  There are a number of reasons for developing hyperpigmentation, and they are important to know in order to ascertain the type of treatment to resolve it and ways to prevent further discoloration in the future.

Ultraviolet or sun-related damage to the skin is the most common cause of hyperpigmentation among both men and women.  UV rays, whether from the sun or a tanning bed, cause skin cells to produce excess melanin, which is the chemical that is deposited in the skin cells to become darker and tan.

When UV exposure ceases, the melanin is removed from the cells and the color fades.  When this process occurs repeatedly and cumulatively over the years, these cells become stained with melanin and the color never fades, resulting in an area of hyperpigmentation.  My best analogy is to describe the skin as developing rust.

Some common terms for these areas are age spots, sun spots, and liver spots.  The latter popular name is the most inaccurate and misleading, as these spots have absolutely nothing to do with the liver.  Therefore, the sun and aging process are the true causes of this problem.

In women, hormone changes can cause changes in melanin production within skin cells.  These spikes in melanin combined with UV exposure result in areas of diffused hyperpigmentation known as melasma.

Pregnancy is most commonly associated with this type of discoloration of the skin.  However, this can also happen with any other hormone changes, including changes in hormonal birth control and hormone replacement therapy associated with menopause.

Usually, the discoloration is lighter in color than purely sun- and age-related hyperpigmentation, but it can cover a wider area.  Limiting sun exposure around the time of hormone changes is the best prevention.  The treatment is the same as the sun-related hyperpigmentation.

Another kind of hyperpigmentation can occur with other traumatic injuries to the skin.  When the skin heals, many people who have high levels of melanin within their skin cells exhibit these injured areas as darker than the surrounding non-injured skin.

This reaction is technically known as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.  Although it can occur with any injury such as surgical scars, the most common manifestation occurs with acne.

The inflammation associated with the acne breakout itself can cause darkening.  If a pimple is popped or it breaks open, the resulting scar can also be darker in many instances.

Limiting acne breakouts and inflammation are the best ways to prevent longer-term darkened scarring.  This prevention can be accomplished by a regimen of good skin care to short circuit the cycle of acne related inflammation.

In UV related hyperpigmentation, a great defense can decrease the need for a great offense.  Sunscreen with an SPF (i.e. Sun Protection factor) of at least 30 is the best offense, and needs to be worn every day.

The face, back of hands, and the neck/upper chest are the most common areas that must be covered with sunscreen every day.  In the warmer months, more skin areas will be need a daily sunscreen treatment when they become more exposed.

While sunscreen is the best way to prevent sunspots from forming, what about when you already have sunspots and want them out of sight?  Fortunately, sunspots that already linger on the skin can be treated.

Treatments for sun damaged spots include facial peels, which will remove the top layer of pigmented cells, and topical retinols, which will cause a more rapid exfoliation of the pigmented cells.  Laser treatments remain the gold standard for the most thorough way to remove hyperpigmentation.

During a laser treatment, a focused beam of laser light of the proper wavelength can target cells with excess melanin.  Once targeted, the beam causes a wound healing response, which will lessen and eventually correct the pigmentation over time.

Sometimes, both topical products and antibiotics may be needed.  There are also specific laser interventions that can reduce oil production, shrink pores, and lower skin bacteria levels to also break that cycle.  In the end, the pigmentation related to acne and other scars can also be lightened with multiple therapies as noted above.

If you have any questions about abnormal pigmentation you may have and you want to have assessed, feel free to give us a call at (207) 873-2158 for a free consultation of your spots and an assessment of what would be involved in resolving them.  As you may know, our mission here at Maine Laser Skin Care is to beautify Maine one face (and body) at a time!

Posted in Facial Health, Laser Treatments, News, Other, Sun Protection, Youthful Appearance | Leave a comment

March Product of the Month

The March Product of the Month is . . . SkinCeuticals Hydrating B5 Gel. We here at Maine Laser Skin Care and Medi-Spa, now in 2 locations in Augusta and Scarborough, have been carrying SkinCeutical products for a number of months now, and we are continually impressed with the results and consumer reactions.

SkinCeuticals Hydrating B5 Gel replenishes nutrients within the skin that your skin cells need in order for the outer skin to appear more youthful and feel smoother.  This product is oil-free, dye-free, and fragrance-free.

The B5 Gel can be used alone or with your daily moisturizer.  It is a great product for all skin types, and is especially ideal for dry, acne-prone skin.

Hydrating B5 Gel contains 2 major ingredients that enable it to moisturize, hydrate, and smooth the skin. The first is Vitamin B5, which is an important mediator of cell metabolism, especially in skin and nerve tissues.

When Vitamin B5 levels are renewed within skin cells, these cells are able to grow at the rate they did when you were younger.  When there are more skin cells, the skin looks and feels smoother and more vibrant.

Hyaluronic acid is the second important component, known to skin care specialists as the body’s natural hydrator because of its ability to bind up to 1000 times its own weight in moisture. This combination of potency maximizes the benefits of moisture enhancement.

To use SkinCeuticals Hydrating B5 Gel, you simply apply 2 to 3 drops of it to each area of the body covered with skin, whether it is your face, your neck, or your chest. Then, you massage the gel gently into the skin with your fingertips while avoiding the area around your eyes.

When you use it in the morning, give it a few minutes to get fully absorbed into the skin before you apply your sunscreen. Similarly, at night, apply this gel before applying any of your other nighttime products.

There are two ways you can order your own bottle of SkinCeuticals Hydrating B5 Gel: by stopping by either of our offices in Augusta or Scarborough, or through our online store.  Clicking on the link or the picture above will bring you directly to the listing.

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New Office Announcement

This announcement has been many months in coming.  After searching for a suitable location, and extensively renovating that building once we found it, Maine Laser Skin Care and Medi-Spa will be opening another satellite location in Scarborough, Maine at 438 US Route 1.

Our Augusta office will still remain open and fully operational.  We are merely expanding into the southern Maine area, and continuing to provide exceptional skin care service in both locations.

Dr. John Burke and his wife, Christine Burke RN, will be performing the varied menu of aesthetic services at this Scarborough location.  Such services include Botox, dermal fillers, and multiple laser procedures for acne, rosacea, skin pigmentation, facial & leg veins, and hair removal.  CoolSculpting  and aesthetician services will also be available here shortly.

We will be opening for Botox and filler appointments in Scarborough starting today, March 6, 2018.  We will announce when the necessary laser and CoolSculpting equipment is installed.

The new phone number at this Scarborough office will be (207) 303-0125.  Both locations will share our longstanding website.

If you know any friends and family in southern Maine in general or Scarborough in particular, please reach out to them and let them know about our new Scarborough location.  As the premier and busiest aesthetic medical practice in central and northern Maine, we hope to bring our standard of excellent care to the southern Maine area.  We stand by our motto to beautify Maine one face at a time!

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Meet The Staff

There are a lot of things that make Maine Laser Skin Care unique and, perhaps most importantly, among the best skin care centers and medical spas in New England.  We not only provide high-quality treatments and great customer service, but we also actively stay on top of cutting-edge technologies and provide them to our patients as soon as they become available.

Of course, none of that would be possible without the help of a devoted and dedicated staff.  While you hear a lot about Dr. John Burke in these blog posts, today’s post will focus on two other familiar faces here in our Augusta, Maine office.

One of them has been with the company almost since its inception, while the other one has only been with us for a few months.  If you did not previously know these dedicated Maine Laser Skin Care employees, please consider this post an official introduction.

Denise M. Gidney L.E. is Maine Laser Skin Care’s veteran aesthetician.   She is officially licensed as an aesthetician, and has over seven years of experience in the aesthetic industry.

Denise has worked at Maine Laser Skin Care ever since graduating from the Spa Tech Institute in Westbrook, Maine.  She specializes in skin consultations, chemical peels, and dermablading.

Denise is additionally certified in Pellevé and Hydrafacial technologies.  Denise has also graduated from CoolSculpting University, and is one of the most experienced providers of that service in the state of Maine.

Christine Burke is the newest member of Maine Laser Skin Care’s roster.  While she might not be as familiar to regular Maine Laser Skin Care patients and customers as Denise is, Christine is a registered nurse with nearly four decades experience.

Educated at the Massachusetts General School of Nursing, Christine has served in a variety of healthcare settings including ICU, Occupational Health, and College Health.  She has been specifically involved in Cosmetic and Aesthetic Dermatology for the past 15 years, and has been certified in administering Botox, dermal fillers, and laser procedures.  She has also completed an in-depth mentoring program over the past several years, making her an accomplished aesthetic dermatology practitioner.

So whatever your skin care needs, you can probably tell from this blog post that you will be in good hands with whatever procedure best fits you.  Only now you can place some familiar faces with the type of treatment you receive from us.

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New Use For Botox: The Jaw

As you may know from my previous Botox-related writings, Botox relaxes specific muscles when injected directly into the area of said muscle’s maximal strength.  Although Botox is traditionally thought of as a safe and effective way to prevent and treat wrinkles, it can also be used to treat a wide array of muscle related disorders, including pain in the jaw.

Teeth grinding, jaw clenching and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) issues can lead to many dental and health problems, including significant jaw pain, headache, and even wearing down and fracture of teeth.  In the past, dentists have used fitted mouth guards for people who struggle with these habits.

Some people benefit from these mouth guards, but many others find that their symptoms persist despite this physical barrier approach.  Fortunately, for many of these sufferers, Botox has proven itself to be an effective alternative treatment.

For the past several years, I have had referrals from area dentists requesting my expertise with Botox injections to help patients that suffer such pain in their jaws.  To the great relief of these patients, Botox injections have been remarkably effective in reducing pain in the jaw, tooth damage, and TMJ symptoms.

During the procedure, I have the patient clench her jaw muscles so that I can see the points of maximal strength.  Then, I inject small amounts of Botox into her jaw muscles.

Depending on the symptoms of the individual patient, sometimes I am injecting only on one side of the jaw and sometimes I am treating both sides.  One side may need more Botox than the lesser affected side.

After the procedure, most patients feel relief of their jaw symptoms within the first several days.  The muscle activity associated with the teeth grinding and jaw clenching is reduced and relaxed.

As with other uses of Botox, this effect will generally last 3-4 months, and then the treatment will need to be repeated.  Patient satisfaction with this treatment is very high, as their symptoms are dramatically improved and they do not need to use a mouth guard or other dental devices for prolonged periods of time.

As with most dental-affiliated treatments, medical insurance unfortunately does not cover these treatments.  However, because of the amounts of Botox injected, we at Maine Laser Skin Care do offer discounted pricing, and you will also qualify for Brilliant Distinction discounts.

If you have any questions about this unique use of Botox with which I have a great deal of experience, please call our office at (207) 873-2158 to schedule a free and confidential consultation.  You can also use this consultation to discuss other skin care related treatment options with us besides Botox.

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Winter Botox Savings

As many of you know, Maine Laser Skin Care maintains a special relationship with Allergan, the makers of such skin care products as Botox, the Juvederm family of dermal fillers, Latisse, and Kybella. We have been one of the busiest aesthetic practices and medi-spas in the state of Maine for many years, and a top dispenser of Allergan products.

Because of Maine Laser Skin Care’s elevated status, we have access to many promotional discounts and coupons.  Rather than keeping them for ourselves (as tempting as that option can be), we pass them on to you, our patients and clients.

This current Botox promotion is an example of a benefit that will save many of you a lot of money.  These savings are for those of you who have 40 or more units of Botox administered during their initial treatment. Here are the specific details of this promotion:

  1. You will receive $50 off your initial treatment AND $50 off a followup treatment.
  2. You will receive $20 worth of Brilliant Distinction points after each of the two treatments to use toward a subsequent visit.
  3. This offer can be combined with the Maine Laser Skin Care $50 Christmas discount if you have not redeemed it already, and any existing Brilliant Distinctions points you may have.

If you do the math and combine all the discounts above, you can save up to $190 over the course of this promotion!  However, in order to get the most out of this promotion, the following criteria must be met:

  1. The first treatment of 40 units must be administered by March 31, 2018.
  2. After redeeming the initial offer, you will receive an email about the second followup offer.
  3. That followup second treatment must be administered by August 28, 2018.

This offer is also limited by the number of coupons available at our office.  We have a significant number right now, but with an offer this good they will go fast.  Call us at (207) 873-2158 ASAP so we can make your appointment before the deadline and before the promotional coupons run out.

Posted in Botox, Other, Special Offers | Leave a comment

February Product of the Month

This month’s featured product is specifically formulated to help those people who have very dry skin or whose skin is adversely affected by the harsh low humidity conditions of the winter.  Therefore, February 2018 is the month for our Lavender Creamy Cleanser.

Cleansers, as their name implies, are formulated to cleanse the skin of impurities that make the skin look and feel rough, scratchy, or worn down.  Unfortunately, many cleansers are too harsh and drying in the process of their cleaning of the skin.

Lavender Creamy Cleanser, on the other hand, is a hydrating milky cleanser that gently removes impurities from the surface of the skin while simultaneously replenishing the skin’s natural moisture.  This cleanser uses gentle botanical components to calmly cleanse the skin and promote skin softness and smoothness.

The important active ingredients of Lavender Creamy Cleanser are:

  1. Lavender Essential Oil– A detoxifying botanically-derived oil that has known antiseptic skin benefits.
  2. Aloe Vera– A botanical that has been used and known for many years for its calming, soothing and moisturizing properties when applied to the skin.
  3. Vitamin E– A well known antioxidant vitamin that binds free radicals caused by injuries to the skin, and helps boost the skin’s defense against environmental insults.

Because of Lavender Creamy Cleanser’s gentle natural consistency, it is most suitable for delicate skin areas such as the face, neck, and around the eyes.  Because of its calming effect, it can also be used on skin that has been sunburned or just treated with lasers.  Additionally, the cleanser can conveniently be used with or without water, which may be beneficial to you depending on the sensitivity of your skin.

Lavender Creamy Cleanser is best for you if you have consistently dry skin, and are sick and tired of the parched winter air making that dry skin worse.  One 180-ml bottle, competitively priced at $28 (when not on sale), will last you a long time considering the qualities of the cleanser’s natural components.

You can pick up a bottle of Lavender Creamy Cleanser at our office at 12 Shuman Ave in Augusta, ME.  You can also order the product from us online, or call us at (207) 873-2158 to instantly order or reserve one.

Your dry skin will thank you.  It’s just another way that we at Maine Laser Skin Care and Medispa make it our mission to beautify Maine one face at a time™.

Posted in Products, Winter Skin | Leave a comment

How Does Botox Work?

The title of this blog post is, as you might expect, one of the most common questions people ask me about Botox.  As you may know, Botox has been used for cosmetic and wrinkle reasons for over 15 years now.

In experienced hands such as mine and those of all of the providers who I have trained in my methods of administering Botox over the years, Botox is not only safe but also highly reliable and predictable in obtaining the cosmetic results desired.  Botox has an exceptional safety record and very high patient satisfaction.

Because every one is unique and different in how they use their muscles, especially on their faces, we here at Maine Laser Skin Care occasionally need to adjust the dosage of Botox administered, or “tweak” the treatment, based on the needs of the individual receiving that treatment.  However, for the most part, dosage adjustments are easily done, and ongoing satisfaction remains high.

When Botox is injected into the desired location, we aim to deposit Botox into the muscle that causes the offending wrinkle, and to that point in that particular muscle where it is the strongest.  Once Botox is into the muscle tissue, it is taken up by an area known as the presynaptic noeuronal terminal.

This terminal is the point where the nerve essentially tells the muscle to contract or move.  Botox blocks the release of a chemical called acetylcholine, which is the chemical signal that tells the muscle when and how much it should contract.

The process of blocking the signals at the nerve-muscle junction takes about 3-4 days after the initial injection of Botox to begin.  The peak effect of this signal blockage is usually within 1-2 weeks, which is also when you begin to see the reduction in the appearance of wrinkles.

For the next 3 months, the muscle treated with Botox becomes non-functional and in its relaxed state.  This muscle relaxation results in a smoothing effect in the treated area as the overlying skin is no longer being folded over repeatedly, which is the origin of wrinkles in the first place.

After that initial 3-month period, the body degrades the effects of the Botox protein and develops new neuromuscular connections.  This process results in the muscle regaining its function again and unfortunately, the return of the wrinkles caused by the muscle contractions.  This is the prime time to have the Botox injections done again.

Since Botox has been used for medical and cosmetic purposes for over several decades, there is no study that has shown any long-term adverse effects of repeated treatments with Botox.  Plus, if Botox is re-administered after the initial treatment has worn off, the effects often last longer with each subsequent injection.  In fact, new studies have shown that repeated Botox treatments not only decrease the severity of wrinkles over time, but that they also can prevent new wrinkles from occurring.

There are several theories about the longer-lasting effects of Botox over time and its role in prevention.  One theory is that if a muscle is blocked from making repeated wrinkling motions, that muscle will be weakened to the point that over time, wrinkles won’t be created again.

Another theory is that by relaxing a specific muscle repeatedly, we are training that muscle not to contract and cause wrinkles.  From my vantage point, the effect of Botox lasting longer is probably because of a combination of these theories.

If you have any questions about Botox or any other cosmetic skin issues, feel free to call us at (207) 873-2158 to ask that nagging question.  You may also call that same number to schedule your next (or even your first) free and confidential consultation.

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Men and Skin Care

Men are a small but growing part of the patient population of aesthetic medicine.  At Maine Laser Skin Care, men represent about 10% of our total procedures performed here in the past year.

A recent study showed that men had 1.3 million aesthetic procedures performed in the U.S. in 2016, which represents about 8% of all procedures performed.  In this study, 85% of these procedures were minimally invasive, with Botox being the most common treatment received.

According to the study report, aesthetic treatments for males increased 74% from 2000 to 2016.  Reasons cited for the increase were the following:

  • men’s increased awareness of safety and effectiveness of these treatments
  • the ease and ability to which men could return to work immediately with minimal downtime
  • desire to have a natural but more youthful and less tired appearance

To state the obvious, men are different from women.  There are many gender-specific differences in terms of facial and skin anatomy, in addition to different patterns of aging and preferences for treatment.

The average age of new male aesthetic patients is in the early 50’s.  In contrast, the average age of new women patients are in the mid to late 40’s.

Whereas many women would like to have all of their lines eradicated, most men would prefer a softening of their lines.  They want to look healthy and more energetic, but not unnatural.

Similar to women, the most common sites for men’s Botox treatments are between the eyes (scowl lines), forehead lines, and crow’s feet (smile lines). In general and on average, men do require higher doses of Botox because of generally stronger and thicker muscles in all areas of their bodies.

In the use of fillers, men are most concerned about the nasolabial folds, the lines that runs from the corner of the nose to the corner of the mouth.  Women, on the other hand, tend to be more likely to choose fillers for the marionnette lines at the corners of the mouth that go into the chin.

Men also usually require thicker fillers and in greater amounts because of the thicker skin men tend to have.  Additionally, men tend to wait longer before considering an aesthetic treatment, thereby resulting in their lines being deeper and sharper than those of most women.

Besides Botox and fillers, laser treatments attract a high percentage of men to treat their age spots and sun damage.  Men frequently notice development of darkened spots on their skin, especially on the face and hands, once they reach their 50s and 60s.

Traditionally, men have been less likely to use sunscreen compared to women, which increases the degree of sun damage.  Many comment that they feel that these spots make them look much older than they actually are.

Men also get rosacea, which requires laser therapy.  They, like women, do not want to answer all the comments about their red face.  When the redness abates within a few sessions of a vascular laser treatment, men do not take that laser for granted.

Double chin is another one of the top concerns for men.  Since Kybella’s FDA approval and availability 2 years ago, men have made up about 40% of my total patients for this procedure.

Reducing the fat under the chin not only diminishes the double chin look that men and women both hate, but it also helps to redefine the masculine jawline.  Even men who would not consider other aesthetic procedures are now seeking consultation for Kybella.  To men, the downtime after this procedure is less of a concern compared to the downtime and expense of surgical liposuction.

In a similar vein as Kybella, CoolSculpting is another increasingly popular noninvasive treatment among men.  Many men who workout regularly become frustrated by the residual pockets of fat that undermine all that hard work they do at the gym to buildup their muscles.

CoolSculpting can freeze away the fat that covers the 6-pack abs.  Once the fat cells are frozen and disposed out of the body naturally, men take notice, especially when their jeans fit without love handles getting in the way.

The most important message to men about aesthetic procedures is that these treatments are just another way to maintain a youthful and vigorous and healthy appearance without compromising masculinity.  Like women, men want to look good for their age and be more competitive in the workplace.

During my office consultations, when I talk to men who are even mildly reluctant to undergo these treatments, I tell them that these aesthetic procedures are analogous to going to the gym and having a personal trainer to improve their appearance.  Studies have shown that men who have aesthetic treatments have a better sense of well being and a better outlook compared to their age-matched peers.

Simply put, when people look better and get rid of the facial or aesthetic problem that was bugging them, they feel better.  Any apprehension they had about having a skin care treatment immediately disappears after they experience these results.

So, if you, dear reader, are male, or if you know a man who could use any of the above services that Maine Laser Skin Care provides, please call us at (207) 873-2158 for a free and confidential consultation.  We can outline a plan to resolve the issues that are making men look and feel older that they should.

Posted in Botox, Facial Health, Fat Reduction, Fillers, Kybella, Laser Treatments, News, Other, Rosacea, Sun Protection, Youthful Appearance | Leave a comment

Facts To Know Before Your Laser Treatment

As you may know, aesthetic medical lasers are powerful enough to reverse prior skin damage caused by factors such as the sun and aging.  These advanced lasers accomplish this task by resurfacing the outer layer of the skin

The same lasers can additionally penetrate further into the skin to, for example, permanently prevent particular hairs from growing any further.  Also underneath the skin, the lasers can help create new collagen, giving our skin strength and elasticity.

However, just like any other medical procedure, laser therapies have a whole list of do’s and don’ts that you need to know both before and after you undergo such a treatment.  Below is a list of some of the things you need to (or might want to) know before having a laser treatment:

1.)  You will have the area treated with a numbing cream before your procedure.  With almost all laser treatments, I will have the patient apply a topical numbing cream to the skin area that will be treated.  This pre-treatment cream will make the experience much more comfortable.  While this manuever will not eliminate all pain, it will make any pain experienced much less intense, especially in procedures such as facial and bikini hair removal and spider veins on the legs.

2.)  Not all lasers are created equal.  Even though many people think a laser is a laser, lasers come in multiple different levels of intensity depending on the treatment.  Less intense levels of laser are used for very superficial issues, such as mild pigmentation from sun damage.  More heavy duty lasers are used for deeper skin problems such as scarring.  During your consultation for your particular skin issue, you will be told the choice of laser for your problem, the implications of the treatment, and how many treatments may be needed.

3.)  Winter is a great time to have laser treatments.  When your skin is treated with a laser, it needs to be protected from the sun immediately afterwards and for at least the following several weeks while the treated area recovers.  Therefore, the winter is the optimal time to be treated for many laser procedures.  Most areas will be covered up by winter clothing anyway, and the sun in the winter is not as strong as it is in the summer.

4.)  There may be some downtime with some laser procedures.  I define downtime as the amount of time that it takes your skin to return to normal after a laser treatment.  Generally, the more invasive or intense the laser procedure, the longer the downtime.

At Maine Laser Skin Care, our Fraxel skin resurfacing procedure has the longest downtime, with redness and peeling lasting for up to a week after the operation.  However, after that week, the skin looks remarkably better and smoother.

In general, most laser procedures that we perform day to day have minimal to no downtime.  Frequently, patients can leave our office and go back to work, go shopping, or out to eat without any hindrance or difficulty.

5.)  After any laser procedures, it is important to maintain the results.  After any laser treatments you have undergone, no matter how many or how few, it is very important to keep your skin protected and healthy to prolong the effects of your results.  Especially after you have spent a significant amount of time and money to improve your skin, you need to protect your investment.  Daily sunscreen use, for instance, is a very small price to pay to keep your skin looking younger and healthy.

I hope that this list will be helpful for those of you who have either been somewhat anxious and resistant to have a laser treatment, or still have questions about lasers and their effects.  As always, if you have a specific question about your skin, please call us at (207) 873-2158 to ask or to schedule your next free and confidential consultation.

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