Retin-A®, a vitamin A-enriched cream that changes the cellular metabolism of the skin's surface to treat fine facial wrinkles and blotches caused by sun damage. It can be used alone, or may be prescribed in conjunction with an aesthetic surgery procedure, such as a facelift or a chemical peel.
Is Retin-A Right For You?
Retin-A® is most effective in older patients who have some fine facial wrinkles, or blotchy pigmented areas caused by sun damage. However, Retin-A® is often prescribed to younger, active individuals who want to combat the aging effects of sun exposure. Patients who are planning to have a chemical peel treatment are often instructed by their doctors to use Retin-A® as a preparation treatment; Retin-A® thins the skin's outer layer, allowing the acid solution used in a peel treatment to penetrate more deeply and evenly. Retin-A® is not recommended for pregnant women or nursing mothers, because its effects on the fetus and nursing infant are still being studied.
Your Retin-A Treatment
Your initial application of Retin-A® will include a lesson on how to continue your skin-care routine at home. After your face has been washed thoroughly, a small amount of Retin-A®, in either cream or gel form, is rubbed over your face and nose. It's likely that a very gentle formula will be used at the beginning - especially if you are younger or have a fair complexion. You may be switched to a stronger formula after your skin becomes accustomed to treatment.
Only a pea-sized dab is needed to cover the face. You will be instructed to apply Retin-A® every night before you go to bed. Because Retin-A® is drying to the skin, your doctor may also recommend that you apply a moisturizer once or twice a day. This routine is usually continued for about eight months to a year, after which you'll be switched to a less-frequent schedule of maintenance, with Retin-A® applications only two or three times per week. At periodic follow-up visits, your doctor may adjust the strength of your prescription or its frequency of use. To maintain the benefits of Retin-A®, its use must be continued for a lifetime.
After Retin-A Treatments
It's normal to experience some redness, irritation, itching, stinging, or skin dryness once you begin to use Retin-A®. However, you can expect these symptoms to gradually disappear as the skin becomes acclimated to the treatment. Because Retin-A® thins out the skin's outer layer, you will need to consistently use a sun-block to protect yourself from ultraviolet light, and you may have to discontinue using certain products or cosmetics on your face.
Though the degree of change varies from person to person, with continued use of Retin-A®, you will begin to see subtle improvements in the texture and tone of your skin. Retin-A® users notice a rosy glow during the beginning months of use, followed by the disappearance of fine lines and the shrinking of large pores. After about six months, many Retin-A® users report that wrinkles are barely visible and that age spots have faded. Most people find that maintaining their new look is easier than expected. Using the cream or facial wash will become a natural part of your morning or evening routine - and the difference you'll see will be worth the extra effort.