As industry professionals we can see our treatments make a difference. However, there were so many times when I was performing treatments that I wished I could show the client solid facts that showed a difference.
With the fight against aging showing no signs of slowing down and increased interest in non-invasive aesthetic procedures, skin care professionals are looking for new technologies to satisfy their clients and stay competitive in the industry.
“We’re seeing that minimally invasive-type treatments that offer patients less ‘downtime’ are increasing in popularity,” commented Peter A. Hilger, MD, president of the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS). From medicalnewstoday.com, value and results drive professionals to provide better and more advanced analysis of the skin and treatment to stay in the race. Digital imaging technology offers a new look at skin care and provides a secret weapon for those wishing to prove their worth.
The trained eye of the aesthetician and dermatologist is able to detect skin concerns including fine wrinkles, pigmentation, congested pores, and other surface signs of aging and then prescribe a course of action to improve these issues using their expertise. But what if he or she could look into the skin and provide quantitative data that tells exactly how the skin is aging and what is to come in the next five, 10, or 15 years and provide custom, targeted treatments to combat this? Most of us have heard that a picture is worth a thousand words. This point has never been truer than with the use of digital imaging technology to analyze the factual skin condition.
Like the common personal digital camera, digital skin cameras yield topical images of the epidermis, but combined with the power of light technology (spectroscopy) and polarized lenses, they are also able to capture images of sub-dermal conditions which reveal entirely new, unparalleled data about the skin condition that were not accessible until now.
So how does it work exactly? A high resolution picture is taken simultaneously with a quick flash of UV light, which is the same light that is present in all electronic flash tubes and is completely safe. This UV light is absorbed into the skin, penetrating the stratum corneum and is then reflected back to the camera lens revealing the dermatological conditions of the skin by colors. Similarly, epidermal melanin absorbs the UV light and therefore reflects the absence of color, black, which the skin care professional can then interpret as sun damage. Digital Skin Analysis boasts the cross polarization technology which can be confusing to a first time buyer.
This technology provides the professional with significant new capabilities to detect, analyze and address a much wider range of skin conditions. It is important to note that digital skin analysis does not perform a diagnosis or suggest treatments; it simply analyzes the skin. This treatment process must be completed by the skin care professional.
Digital skin analysis technology can examine the following skin features and provide a deeper look at subdermal, interior skin conditions including (varies according to machine):
Surface spots – typically brown or red skin spots including freckles, acne scars, pigmentation, and vascular lesions. Analyzes severity and provides exact location.
UV damage – areas where melanin is accumulated as a result of sun damage; shows severity.
Brown spots – deep lesions within the skin including hyperpigmentation, freckles, lentigines (benign lesions aka “liver spots”), and melasma.
Red areas – detects a variety of conditions including acne, inflammation, rosacea, and spider veins.
Wrinkles – furrows, folds, or creases that occur as a result of natural aging, sun exposure, facial movement, lifestyle, and environment. Technology is even capable of measuring depth and severity of wrinkles.
Tone and Texture – measures skin color and smoothness by analyzing gradation and surface topography.
Pores – distinguishes pores based on size and definition and indicates pore health.
Porpyhrins – locates bacterial excretions that can become lodged in pores which may then lead to acne and irritation.
Sebum production – reads areas where excess sebum is present and possible areas for clogged pores and acne.
Moisture – analyzes natural skin moisture levels and identifies areas of dehydration.
Several manufacturers have developed this technology for the aesthetic and beauty industry. Each machine provides an in-depth look at what is happening within the skin but provide different features and equipment to do so. Various packages are available from basic equipment to complete turnkey systems according to manufacturer. Professionals are advised to research the options available to determine which machine best suits their needs and practice. Machines range from 6,000 to 18,000 dollars depending on the package and equipment desired.
Whichever machine is chosen, the ability to truly see into the skin and evaluate the conditions on such a level transforms the ability to treat the skin. The specialist will be able to target problem areas, define potential problem areas, and develop targeted treatment programs to address each issue. The visual tools of these machines allow the client to see the state of their skin rather than just hear the assessment. It helps them to understand their skin condition in an interactive and informative way. Actually seeing one’s skin in its true condition may be the client’s motivation to invest in skin care treatments and begin a healthy and proactive skin care regimen. Data provided in a 2007 Procedural Survey proves that even in our faltering economy, consumers are not being anymore frugal when it comes to their beauty, health, and reducing the signs and visibility of aging skin. Dermatologist Joe Schlessinger states, “My opinion is that most people will skimp on certain large things like a vacation to an exotic location or a new car, but medically appropriate purchases and those that are ‘ongoing maintenance’ such as skin care regimens will be continued.”
The procedure is completely painless and takes only a few minutes to perform. The client is instructed to place their chin on a padded rest (face should be clean and makeup free) in front of the digital camera. While the eyes are closed several high quality digital images are taken of the various levels of skin and include multi-dimensional views of the face from the front and both left and right sides. The data retrieved is fed into the computer, analyzed, and separated into several categories according to individual system specifications. The price of such a procedure is at the discretion of the practice but typically ranges from $45 to $60. Some locations may choose to offer the service complimentary with the purchase of a treatment.
While the process itself is easy to perform, professionals are urged to receive the proper training on their machine. One leading manufacturer noted a professional can be trained in as quickly as one hour, but stressed that it is vital that training is received to ensure proper use of the equipment and greatest benefit. One user, Yi Hsin Chang said, “the training is crucial to the usage of the equipment, not only to learn how to evaluate the results and maximize the results of the data, but more importantly how to position the user (in front of the camera) each and every visit. Depending on how the picture is taken, you will have small variation in the results.” All manufacturers offer various forms of training for their clients with the purchase of equipment ranging from written manuals, webinars, and hands-on instruction.
Each brand of machine offers the client with a skin care report. After the photos are taken, the client can be immediately provided with a full color report and complexion analysis showing the scores (data) retrieved from the images. Typically this procedure is followed with a consultation by the professional and recommendations of treatment based on the individual’s data and their personal skin care goals.
Some digital skin analysis even provides a grading of the client’s skin features to other individuals of the same age and skin type. This insight allows the client to understand their skin condition on a new level and work with their doctor to achieve their desired results.
Additionally, this technology allows for a visual and tangible way to track progress as treatments and procedures are performed. The client will literally see their skin changing as the future photos are taken. They receive quantifiable data on their investment in skin care services. This incentive is exciting and deeply rewarding to them. When commenting on how the technology has helped in her assessment of client’s skin, Chang notes, “The database measures each imperfection and shows the improvement before and after so you are left with quantitative results instead of the old fashioned subjective analysis.”
This new way of looking at the skin provides the professional with an exceptional advantage to look at what is happening within the skin. It is a way to determine how fast the skin is aging and what damage has already been done. This technology is a strong tool for the skin care industry to accurately diagnose skin conditions and market anti-aging treatments.
Imagine the power a microdermabrasion session will have after providing real data about your client’s uneven skin tone or the depth of their wrinkles. Lightening and brightening treatments will have a new appeal when pigmentation and melanin build-up can be quantified by digital skin analysis. Consider the advantage in treating acne, a problem that affects more than 50 percent of adults today, when one can hone in on areas where p.acnes bacteria are harboring under the skin. This technology will breathe life into aesthetic treatments by targeting what needs to happen and benchmarking client results over time.
fashionindustrytoday.com, Anti-aging skincare industry is more resilient than ageless skin, samantha rose www.labtechnologist.com, digital imaging: a weapon to fight skin aging, simon pitman