I am 55 years old with skin that tans quite easily. I was a product of the 80’s when the thought was “the tanner the better.” Well I am seeing the results of that now. Are there laser treatments available for actinic keratoses? I have sun damage actinic keratosis spots on my arms and legs that really bother me. There’s so much available on this topic now, that I almost don’t know where to start! I’ll address sun damage in the second post.
Let’s do an analysis first though. Please go find your mirror and put on a tank top. Let’s look honestly at what we have. First we need to decide, is this a problem with fat that’s under the skin and over the muscle? Is this really just mostly loose skin? Or, is the skin and fat pretty good, but our bicep and tricep muscles need exercise?
Look also at your forearms and hands, is the skin quality pretty good? Maybe you have sun damage (brown spots and crepey),or precancerous spots that need treating first. Have you had your skin exam with your dermatologist or primary care doc in the past year? Please make sure you see your dermatologist if there’s any question in your mind about a skin cancer!!
Four things you can do over the next 3-6 months that make a difference.
Exercise. Okay….. don’t kill me, but you gotta exercise those arm muscles. I know this for a fact and from personal experience. Yoga is good, especially tricep “chattarangas”. You can use light weights also. Just google a youtube video and start very light and only 2 days a week (at first) if you’re over 50. Build up slowly. This is a great habit and will keep you strong. Think about all the other benefits. You can lift heavy groceries easily. You can put your suitcase easily on an airplane rack, or a box on a shelf. If you fall, your strong arms can save you serious injury.
Coolsculpting to decrease fat. This is non invasive (no scars), not that expensive, and works well if there is enough fat for the adapter head to fit. Takes a hour or two and you can go right back to exercise. (I don’t accept any payments from companies!) There is some skin tightening with the CS. Liposuction by an expert is also an option but does leave small scars.
Deep RF (radiofrequency) for skin tightening. This is a new and developing area. Best for those who don’t have much fat on the arms. It’s really just a loose skin. First, build up the muscle and start using sun protection every single time you’re out. UV destroys elastic fibers and makes skin looser. Be careful! This is a new, developing area, and FDA off-label. Go to a center who uses a lot of RF (like Thermage, Exilis, Profound, Infini, etc.).
Surgery. If you have lost a lot of weight recently or in the near past, you may just need a arm lift from a plastic surgeon. You don’t want to waste your time and money. See a plastic surgeon who really specializes in arms and body work, rather than the face.
Hope this helps,
Dr. Brandith Irwin
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