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Secrets That the Mouth Reveals

By: Jenny Hogan
Posted: June 23, 2008, from the April 2006 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

“I wear not my dagger in my mouth,” wrote William Shakespeare in the fourth act of his play, Cymbeline.

He may have been referring to sharp words; however, the mouth never should be portrayed as a negative aspect of the face. In today’s spas and medical spas, the emphasis usually is on the skin, eyes, crow’s-feet and worry lines. With all the focus directed to these high-impact areas, the mouth can become something of an afterthought. Nevertheless, no one ever has said that the mouth was the window to the soul. There are specialized eye masks, serums for tough forehead wrinkles and décolleté creams, but the mouth often is not given the care that the rest of the face receives. When this happens, it whispers a vital secret your clients don’t want the world to know—their age.

The aging mouth

The mouth ages in three basic ways, just like the face: by thinning, sagging and wrinkling. Drooping skin around the mouth can create a fatigued expression or make a person appear to be depressed. “The problem comes when these expressions are not the reality of how one feels, but are symbols that inaccurately convey the mood, personality or physical condition of an individual,” says Byron Poindexter, MD, partner and surgeon at The Austin-Weston Center for Cosmetic Surgery in Reston, Virginia. He adds, “For instance, you are immediately drawn to believe that a tired or unhappy expression means that the person is tired or unhappy. Ideally, the face in repose should be neutral from emotion, and reflect a youthful and rested condition.”

Pre- and post-operative skin care

The mouth always should be addressed with every facial a client or patient receives in a spa or medical facility. While physicians perform specific surgeries and invasive cosmetic procedures on the mouth, estheticians working in a medical setting often administer noninvasive esthetic treatments, such as microdermabrasion, chemical peels and clinical facials, with prescription-grade products. Some of the key ingredients found in medical skin care products include hydroquinone, topical retinoids, salicylic acid, glycolic acid, alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs), trichloroacetic acid and L-ascorbic acid. Many times at medical spas, because of the clinical setting with medically supervised spa treatments, an esthetician is able to achieve visible results that are not attainable in traditional spas. Every patient should receive a thorough, personalized skin care evaluation and a treatment created just for them, as well as a customized regimen for at-home care.

It is crucial for estheticians working in a medical environment to get patients’ skin in the best possible condition before their cosmetic surgeries. Healthy skin heals faster and yields better results. Four to six weeks before surgery, an esthetician should analyze the patient’s skin, develop a personalized skin care regimen and perform a clinical facial, such as a resurfacing treatment, for optimal cleansing. According to Robert K. Sigal, MD, Austin-Weston Center partner and surgeon, “Ingredients such as retinol decrease the thickness of the outer layer of the skin and make it easier for it to be penetrated by lasers. It also increases blood flow, which helps the skin heal faster.”