Dr. Michelle Copeland is a renowned biochemist and plastic surgeon, who advises the US Congress on health issues affecting women. Dr. Copeland’s background in chemistry and expertise in cosmetic surgery offers a unique understanding on how the skin is affected by different products and treatment and reveals in this interview that daily or weekly alterations of topical serums and lotions is a form of skin abuse because the tissue reacts by becoming irritated or breaking out. All that back and forth shocks the tissue which gets revved up because it is not sure what’s going to hit it next. Read the interview to learn some skin care tips from a true expert.
MMH: What are the main factors that cause skin damage and aging?
Dr. Copeland: The main factors that cause skin damage are the sun, lifestyle and how you care for your skin. The good news is, anyone can have beautiful skin and it starts with simply looking after it: Cleanse and tone, exfoliate, activate, moisturize and protect.
MMH: What do changes in facial bones have to do with the aging of the skin? What can patients do about it?
Dr. Copeland: Skin resiliency diminishes with age. Sadly we may be able to undo gravity’s effects but we can’t stop it altogether. Loss of soft tissue gives the illusion of bones changing. In adolescence skin is plump and glowing. In our twenties some aging and slight wrinkling (mostly from sun damage) has occurred, fine lines begin to appear, collagen and elasticity start to break down, and slight puffiness in the eye area is evident around the eyes. In our thirties and forties all of those changes become more pronounced and a “squaring off” of the face occurs. In our fifties and beyond we experience a hallowing or increased puffiness in the eye area, laxity of the upper eye lid, the onset of jowls and deeper more pronounced nasolabial folds. Thanks to our common foe, gravity, a downward drift of the face continues unabated over the years. There are many things you can do as far as surgery - a face-lift or mini face lift, a neck lift or neck lipectomy, forehead lift, eyelid lift, facial implants or fat grafting to name a few.
MMH: As Biochemist and Physician you have a unique perspective in the properties of the skin to suggest product or procedures. How can consumers distinguish which skin care products work from those that do not work?
Dr. Copeland: As a Plastic Surgeon and Biochemist, I know skin from the inside out and I see what happens when skin is left uncared for. My knowledge of biochemistry allows me to formulate effective, yet gentle products that work together to you the youngest looking, healthiest skin possible. I personally select each ingredient and test each formula, including my revolutionary Rewind Age-Defying Cream for face and body that reverses the aging process of our skin cells. Our skin care products are all allergy tested and not tested on animals. Almost all of them are fragrance –free. I have worked with all aspects of the skin, cells and connective tissue. Having such a complete perspective I really know what ingredients interact with the skin and how to use them most effectively. I’ve learned that skin care products work best when there is a combination of active ingredients and anti-oxidants – so, look for vitamin and anti-oxidant packed products. As well, your skin should begin to respond to the products in a positive way in about 6-8 weeks.
MMH: Can consumers damage their skin properties by constantly changing the use of skin care products, instead of regularly using the product of their choice?
Dr. Copeland: It is always best to stay on a regular skincare routine. Daily or weekly alterations of your topical serums and lotions is a form of skin abuse. The tissue reacts by becoming irritated or breaking out. All that back and forth shocks the tissue which gets revved up because it is not sure what’s going to hit it next. You want to establish a pattern that lulls skin into a regular rhythm. It will be able to function better and expend energy on building new collagen and elastin, instead of working to combat trauma of a third anti-oxidant cream in as many days.
MMH: There is a growing trend in the use of supplements that claim to improve the skin from within. How effective are these supplements when compared to other products that treat the skin on a superficial level?
Dr. Copeland: You have to be good to yourself on the inside and out. What you consume can have an effect on your skin so naturally some supplements will help to a degree. However, skin is at the “end of the line” in terms of being able to use nutrients, our bodies “feed” other organs first. But the best results will be from what you put on your skin as that will be absorbed through your skin and affect it directly.
MMH: What devices or techniques you recommend to perform facial rejuvenation?
Dr. Copeland: There are many devices and techniques used to perform facial rejuvenation, such things as the short scar face lift (or mini lift) which focuses only on the lower face from the cheek to the chin combined with an Endoscopic forehead (brow) lift are techniques that I use that are minimally invasive and have a quick recovery time. Thanks to the advent of new technology such as the endoscopy, liposuction, facial implants and other “mini” procedures used either by themselves or in combination – we can do a lot less and achieve a lot more positive natural results. The new generation of non-ablative or “light tough lasers” which only imperceptibly remove the top layer of the skin. In an hour – they use a thermal effect to stimulate changes in the elastic tissue deep within the skin, resulting in generalizing tightening. There are other non-invasive procedures such as Thermage which works to tighten and renew the skins collagen deep down through all three layers of the skin (epidermis, dermis and subcutaneous (fat) layer). This procedure uses radio frequency technology to accomplish this.
MMH: Skin properties vary within ethnic groups. What type of ethnic considerations exists when utilizing skin care products or performing cosmetic and plastic surgery procedures?
Dr. Copeland: Different ethnic groups have different skin types in terms of thickness of skin but everyone can benefit from good skincare. My skin care products are allergy tested and fragrance-free and are suitable for all skin types and ethnicities.
MMH: What is the best way to slow the aging process of the skin without undertaking plastic surgery? When should people start thinking about this before it is too late?
Dr. Copeland: It is never “too late”, anyone at any age can start with a basic skin care routine. Anyone can use sunscreen and moisturizer and these days you can get both in one product. There are many anti-aging creams and lotions on the market these days. I have patients coming in to my office in their 20’s and want to “stop the clock” so they don’t get “old” looking.
MMH: You wrote a book named Change Your Looks, Change Your Life in which you talk about quick fixes to improve ones image. What do you think of the so-called “lunch time” and scarless facelift techniques?
Dr. Copeland: Everyone is living longer and working longer so the “Quick Fix” or “Lunchtime Fix” is great – as everyone leads a busy life and everyone claims they have no time. So there are many things you can do without going for a “Face Lift” that can improve your looks and require little of no downtime.
MMH: You are now working on a new book that will be released on May 2007. What is the difference between the first and second book?
Dr. Copeland: The first Book – “Change Your Looks, Change Your Life” focuses on guiding the reader on the options in plastic surgery and how to find the best doctor for the procedure. “The Beautiful Skin Workout” – explains how to get the best skin possible and how to take care of your skin. What products you need that will improve the look of your skin without surgery.
MMH: What is the present and future role of stem cell research in anti-aging and plastic surgery related products and procedures?
Dr. Copeland: The advances and discoveries in our understanding of disease are beginning to find their way into the skin arena. When we examine the work genetic scientists are doing in cell regulation and modulation and methods for turning off segments of RNA, we can discern the future of skin care. Ideas about re-directing and changing embryonic cells to prevent their maturation introduce a whole new world of thinking about these cells. Stem cell research will also undoubtedly have implications in the way we consider this tissue. In the next ten years, we are going to learn how to reverse the aging process in a healthy manner and arrest negative cellular development.
MMH: What trend or innovations can you foresee will impact the area of anti-again products or quick-fix related procedures during the next few years?
Dr. Copeland: This is an exciting time in cosmetic surgery. There have been incredible innovations and pioneering advances in anti-aging techniques, including radiofrequency, lasers and other light-based initiatives. There are targeted, effective solutions out there for almost every skin concern. With proper guidance a person can resolve almost anything that is plaguing his/her face or body. I have traveled the globe and every place I visit colleagues want to discuss the latest discoveries in plastic surgery and developments in skin care. We now know we can stimulate our bodies, as the deepest cellular level, to function as they are suppose to naturally. As we age, those internal mechanisms slow down, but new scientific discoveries are showing us how to override our inherent tendencies.
MMH: Do you believe female plastic surgeons offer benefits relative to male plastic surgeons when it comes to performing certain plastic surgeries?
Dr. Copeland: I think trained and licensed men and women are both excellent – the difference is not one of gender but rather skill and ability. You should always do your homework. I find that women plastic surgeons naturally take a more collaborative approach with their patients, rather than offering fatherly wisdom or imitations of male flattery. As a woman, I never create the breasts that I want to see on the patient; I create the breasts she wants to see. Or another example – for a women – a scar is ugly – a blemish that invites curiosity rather than a badge of courage, as men see it. So I always explore with the patient ways of minimizing (or altogether avoiding) scarring, a concern that I believe many of my male colleagues have overlooked for far too long. That said, as a woman I know how important my skin is to me, and we as women tend to pay attention to every detail.
MMH: In your experience, is the gender of the doctor a factor for female patients when selecting a plastic surgeon?
Dr. Copeland: Some of my patients have come to me specifically because I am a woman, and some have come for other reasons. I think it is up to the individual. The most important thing is to do your research before choosing anyone – make sure you are confident about your doctor’s abilities and background. To do my job well, I must make sure that the women and men who leave my office not only look better but feel better as well.
Michelle Copeland, D.M.D., M.D., F.A.C.S., P.C
A world-renowned, plastic and cosmetic surgeon and biochemist, Dr. Copeland graduated first in her class at Harvard, with both medical and dental doctorates, and has become a leading expert on cosmetic surgery and aging skin. She has been invited to present her pioneering techniques in facial rejuvenation around the globe, and as a member of the Medical Health Advisory Board for the Society for the Advancement of Women’s Health Research, advises Congress on health issues affecting women.
Dr. Copeland is an assistant professor of clinical surgery at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, an and attending surgeon in plastic and reconstructive surgery at the Mount Sinai Hospital—as well as a “diplomat” of the National Board of Plastic Surgery. In addition, she runs a busy practice in New York City where she has been making people more beautiful for more than 20 years.
She has authored numerous scientific articles and appeared frequently in magazines and television, including The Today Show, The View, Good Morning America, The New York Times, The New York Post, Oprah, Lucky, Vanity Fair, Elle, People and US Magazines to name a few.
Most recently Dr. Copeland has combined her background in chemistry with her knowledge and expertise in cosmetic surgery and aging skin to create a line of skin care products that will help skin look and feel better than ever before. Her skin care line -Dr. Michelle Copeland Skin Care ™, can be found at www.mcskin.com. She believes with proper care, all skin can look amazing and invasive treatments will not be necessary. For those more interested in surgical procedures, she is the author of “Change Your Looks, Change Your Life”.
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Tags: celebrity, plastic, surgery