Skin Care & Retin A

The Path Towards Healthier Skin

It’s hard to not feel insecure about our complexions sometimes. In a world of Photoshop and airbrushing, we’re bombarded with images of young people with blemish-free complexions and older people who seemingly never age. In the real world, however, few of us are lucky enough to be blessed with flawless complexions. Whether it’s natural imperfections and signs of aging or damage caused by the sun, the majority of us have skin concerns that prevent us from feeling our very best.

For many people, dermatological or surgical intervention is the answer to battling their skin concerns. However, there are topical options for those who want to achieve a better complexion. The two most powerful ingredients in skincare are glycolic acid and Retin-A.

Glycolic acids are serums and topical creams that contain a fruit-derived acid that helps to slough away dead skin cells and encourage new cells to form in their place. Retin-A is a prescription product that’s comprised of a high concentration of vitamin A, a powerful skincare ingredient that works similarly to glycolic acid, changing the cellular composition of the skin. Although both are effective skincare products, Retin-A will provide more intense results.

These products can be used on their own to combat skincare concerns or in conjunction with surgical or dermatalogical intervention.

What You Can Expect From Glycolic Acid and Retin-A

We’d be lying if we said that topical treatments offered as dramatic of results as surgical intervention. However, that’s not to say that topical treatments don’t make a noticeable difference. While these treatments may not completely eradicate deep wrinkles and scars, they will absolutely help to smooth over fine lines and combat new signs of aging.

Of course, these are strong products. They can cause irritation if used incorrectly. This is why they’re best used under the guidance of a medical professional. This is why a consultation with Dr. Leonard should be your first step before starting these treatments.

Your Consultation

Even if you’re not planning to undergo surgical intervention anytime soon, Dr. Leonard can still work with you to discuss getting you on a regimen of glycolic acid or Retin-A. Which product you should use will be determined by your skin’s sensitivities, your skincare goals and concerns. Dr. Leonard does not have any loyalty to any one particular product or brand. Instead, he prefers to prescribe each patient with a regimen that is best suited to their needs. For some patients this might be glycolic acid. For others, Retin-A might be a better choice. For patients with few skin sensitivities, a combination of the two might be the best course of action.

Please do not hesitate to bring any questions you might have to Dr. Leonard during your initial consultation. The goal of this meeting is to ensure that Dr. Leonard has a full understanding of your medical history and any skin sensitivities that you may have. Don’t worry if you’re completely new to the world of prescription skincare; this meeting is where you’ll learn more how everything works and how you can incorporate these products into your routine.

The Treatments


Originally, Retin-A was designed to combat moderate to severe acne. However, patients who used the product to combat adult acne quickly discovered an unexpected added benefit: their fine lines were diminishing right along with their blemishes.

There are virtually no other topical products more beloved by dermatologists and plastic surgeons for their anti-aging effects than Retin-A, save for perhaps sunscreen. Although Retin-A can cause skin peeling during your first few weeks or months of use, it is safe for most skin types. However, pregnant women and women who are nursing should avoid using Retin-A, as there have been no meaningful studies investigating the treatment’s effect on unborn and very young children.

It is important to note that Retin-A has never officially been declared an anti-aging product by the Food and Drug Administration. To this day, it remains FDA-approved only for its anti-acne benefits. Although Retin-A requires more clinical research before it can be officially declared an anti-aging product, be advised that a myriad of dermatologists and surgeons have been prescribing Retin-A for its anti-aging effects for decades. Dr. Leonard stands by Retin-A for its amazing effects on fine lines and signs of aging.

Using Retin-A

Dr. Leonard will walk you through your first application in his office. You’ll only use a very small amount across your entire face. Dr. Leonard may instruct you to use the product nightly or on alternating nights. It all depends on your skin.

Retin-A should only be used at night, as it can increase sun sensitivity. In fact, wearing sunscreen during the day is absolutely crucial while you’re on Retin-A. Don’t be at all surprised if you experience irritation, redness or sensitivity during you first weeks or months of use. This is completely normal.

During a follow-up visit, Dr. Leonard will discuss your experience using Retin-A. If necessary, you will be prescribed a stronger or weaker concentration. Remember, the goal here is to improve your skin, but not in a way that causes you excessive irritation. While some redness and peeling is normal, an excessive amount is not. Dr. Leonard will be able to determine whether or not your skin is reacting normally.

After about six months of use, you will be able to see a meaningful difference in your skin and the irritation will have mostly subsided. It is imperative that you continue to use Retin-A if you want to maintain your results.

Glycolic Acid

Although not as strong as Retin-A, don’t count out the effects of glycolic acid. This versatile anti-aging powerhouse is available to consumers in a wide array of formulations and concentrations. Not only do glycolic acid treatments improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, but they can often smooth over areas of hyperpigmentation.

Using Glycolic Acid

Although glycolic acid can cause some peeling and redness, the effects are rarely as severe as those of Retin-A. While there may be some individuals with extremely sensitive skin who can’t handle any glycolic acid whatsoever, this is very rare. Dr. Leonard will be able to work with you and figure out what type and concentration of glycolic acid you should be using.

Glycolic acid is available in many forms, including face wash, serum, cream and more. What formulation you use will depend on what you and Dr. Leonard decide is your best course of treatment. Generally, products feature roughly a 12% concentration of glycolic acid. Anything under that can be too gentle to create meaningful results. However, anything higher than that can be too intense for at-home use and can potentially burn or damage the skin. Very high concentrations of glycolic acid should only be used during in-office chemical treatments and only by medical professionals. Many glycolic acid products for at-home use contain moisturizers that will help to soothe the skin and keep irritation to a minimum.

Glycolic acid is sometimes used in conjunction with Retin-A, but only under the supervision of a doctor. Dr. Leonard will be able to come up with the right skincare regimen for you.

Over time, you’ll begin to notice that your skin appears smoother and brighter with fewer visible pores. Similar to Retin-A, glycolic acid can increase sensitivity to the sun. For this reason, it’s advised that you apply glycolic acid at night and wear sunscreen during the day. If you’re experiencing excessive irritation or not getting the results that you were hoping for, Dr. Leonard will tweak your routine until you find a regimen that works for you.

The Best Treatment For You

Dr. Leonard wants to help you to find your personal best at-home skincare regimen. Although your new routine might seem overwhelming at first, it will quickly begin to feel like second nature. Book an appointment today to talk to Dr. Leonard about how you can achieve your skincare goals and look your absolute best.

Contact Leonard Plastic Surgery

Leonard Plastic Surgery

Water Place │ 500 Liberty Street S.E., Suite 400 │ Salem, OR 97301

(503) 391-2760 │

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