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Is there evidence to support the use of exotic skin care products in Plastic Surgery and Dermatology?

Posted Jun 18 2009 1:03am

One of the fastest growing areas in Cosmetic Medicine for the last decade has been the steady growth in new skin care treatments. Much like lasers, Intense Pulsed Light ( IPL ), Thermage, Chemical Peels, and other devices which purport to rejuvenate the skin, doctors and patients are marketed hundreds of products which claim to have reinvented the wheel of skin care.

Some of these products cost hundreds of dollars and can involve treatment regimens so complex as to beg the question of who in fact has enough time to perform them. A syndicated New York Times article " The Cosmetics Restriction Diet" touches upon an interesting revolt against this by some doctors who are asking "Where's the beef?".

The article can be read by clicking here

“You have to think of cosmetics as decorative and hygienic, not as things that are going to change your skin,” said Dr. Coleman, who is a clinical professor of dermatology at Tulane University Health Sciences Center in New Orleans. “A $200 cream may have better perfume or packaging, but as far as it moisturizing your skin better than a $10 cream, it probably won’t.”

A study of wrinkle creams published last month by Consumer Reports concluded that there was no correlation between price and effectiveness. The study, which tested nine brands of wrinkle creams over 12 weeks, also concluded that none of the products reduced the depth of wrinkles by more than 10 percent, an amount “barely visible to the naked eye.”

I tend to agree somewhat with some of the sentiments that skin-care is being made too deliberately complex. A gentle cleanser and sun-screen form the basis most people need to start from. I do however think that Retin-A (and related products) and topical anti-oxidants got a little short shrift in the story. We do know that both of those can have significant positive effects in general.

As to how much is enough? I have no idea. There is no way to intelligently cut thru the crap of marketing, and most existing and new products have little objective analysis of results. In fact there is little incentive for manufacturers to submit their products for that kind of scrutiny.
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