kayla’s experience with venus viva skin resurfacing for textural acne scars

i’ve happily been bouncing between 90%-100% clarity for almost 2 years now and it feels like a true victory. i still follow the acne-safe lifestyle and get frequent treatments to take care of my skin. my pigmentation is nearly completely gone, but the textural scarring in my cheeks & between my brows is severe and keeps me from being truly happy with my skin.

we often refer clients to medical spas for more invasive procedures once they are clear, so i went in to a local one see what they would recommend for my textural scarring. i was initially thinking microneedling would be the route for me, but after their examination, the venus viva was strongly suggested.

VENUS VIVA (vs micro-needling)

venus viva is a skin resurfacing treatment with significantly less downtime than the commonly used CO2 lasers. it works by pressing tiny pins into the skin while the handset simultaneously delivers heat, creating micro-wounds (and stimulating the skin’s collagen-producing healing response). it is similar to the popular micro-needling, but the tool is ‘smart’ in that it can detect areas in the skin that need more attention as well as penetrate deeper than micro-needling.

THE PROCEDURE + HEALING

i did 2 rounds of venus viva, 5 weeks apart. my first round was at the end of march, and the second one at the beginning of may. the treatment itself is very quick (15 mins) and very painful. i applied their BLT numbing cream 30 mins prior – which appears to be acne-safe whereas most numbing creams don’t disclose ingredients – but it was still really painful. luckily, like i said, it was very quick. she was essentially pressing a tool into my skin that had 160 pins to puncture the surface and the nano-fractional radio frequency caused a strong (painful) zapping sensation.

when i left, my skin looked & felt like it was extremely sunburnt. i was advised to not put anything on my skin for 24-hours and to stay out of the sun.. so i hid out at home. after 24 hours, i was back at work wearing makeup. and honestly, you couldn’t even tell that i had a procedure done! if you looked really closely, you could see a distinct pattern of tiny dots on my face, which were teeny-tiny scabs that felt like sandpaper. the redness was gone within a few days, and by day 5-6 i felt like my skin was completely healed. did my textural scars magically go away? no. did i see a difference? not in my scars, but overall, my skin appeared more supple and refined. when i went back for my second round, my esthetician assured me that since the healing starts from the inside-out, it can take 3 months for the full results to show, post-procedure.

round two was a bit different. she focused the tool specifically on my scarred areas, rather than evenly dispersing, which i was very happy about. again, the healing was fast and painless.

RESULTS..?

it’s been about 3 months since my last treatment and to be totally honest – the results are underwhelming. i don’t see a major improvement in the textural scars, especially the deeper ones. i think the mild ones are less noticeable, but overall i think to see a true difference i would need a few more (costly) rounds.  each session was about $800, and i expected much more visible results to justify the cost, so my search for textural scarring rejuvenation will continue for now..

please do share any information you may have if you’ve gotten successful results from the venus viva, or any other textural scarring treatment! we’d love to hear 🙂

 

how to stop picking your skin!

image source: trich.org

ARE YOU A PICKER?

if you consciously or unconsciously pop, squeeze, poke, scratch, peel, extract, pinch, or rub at your skin – this blog post is for you! at skinSALVATION, if you do any of the above to your skin, we consider you a “picker”. i know, i know, it’s not the most lovely of titles. i wasn’t happy to learn i was a picker; i thought i was extracting my acne properly when i saw white stuff come out! but it comes down to this – it doesn’t matter how exactly you’re messing with your skin, if you are physically aggravating it with your hands or other tools, you are going to slow down the clearing process.

this is a big deal. being a picker will be an important factor in how fast we are able to clear up your skin; your journey to clear skin will be a slower, more frustrating one if you are unable to keep your hands off your face. sometimes, if the picking (or scratching, rubbing, etc) is bad enough, it will inhibit people from clearing up altogether.

unfortunately, it can be super difficult for people to keep their hands off, especially when they see a juicy white head that looks ready to extract! so, while i know how hard it is and have compassion for those struggling (especially since i have had trouble quitting the picking behavior myself), it is also my job to get clients to leave their skin alone, so don’t hate me when i ask you “how is the picking is going?”

so, we have an array of suggestions, some may be helpful for you and others may not be, but as i tell clients everyday at sS – some effort is better than no effort! it is worth a shot, and any decrease in the physical aggravation to your skin will increase the rate at which you clear up.

as a side note, even the estheticians here at skinSALVATION refrain from extracting our own skin. there’s so much that goes into a proper extraction – you need good light and a clear view of the pore opening so that you can ease the seed out with as little trauma to the skin as possible. you also need the right leverage to get the right angle to completely clear the seed out of the pore. too much pressure in the wrong spot can rupture the cell walls, which leads to bacteria spreading, new breakouts in pores nearby, and the textural scarring known as pock marks. after all – anyone can get a mirror and a pair of scissors to cut their own hair – but will it be as good a cut than if you let a professional do it for you?

IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER:

1. i remind my clients all the time, some progress is better than no progress, and all progress is worth giving yourself credit for! taking (small) steps everyday to self-care / self-love adds up overtime. try to think through the process of what happened the last time you picked. you probably ended up with a big mark that took forever to heal, and scarred, right?? cultivating this gentle mindset towards yourself is a HUGE way of giving yourself self-love.

 

2. be open to professional help. if stopping picking altogether was as easy as reading a blog post and taking a few suggestions, we’d all be cured! as you know by now, unfortunately, it can be a complicated behavior to stop. there are cognitive behaviorial therapists that specialize in BFRB (body-focused repetitive behavior). kristin southwick is a great one that has helped many of our clients with excessive picking of the skin – she’s no longer working within the bay area, but may be available for remote counseling (email us so we can send you her information). trich.org is a great resource to find help and community!

 

WHAT YOU CAN DO INSTEAD OF PICKING:

ice your face, #1 recommendation we make to clients of all time. it will help decrease inflammation = make acne less pickable. we have most of our clients using these ice pop makers. you can ice for up to 30 minutes, just remember to cleanse your face beforehand and keep the ice moving (to avoid frostbite) and don’t apply too much pressure (this can lead to more inflammation). icing works well to treat existing inflamed acne as well as prevent it, and it helps to drive your active products further into the skin. win win win!

squeeze a stress ball! this can be helpful for those who unconsciously pick their skin, for example while on the computer or watching tv. these are the isoflex stress balls we hand to our clients during our signature face treatments, to keep their hands busy 🙂 koosh balls, play dough, anything your hands can fiddle with will work.

meditation can be helpful to reduce stress levels, and if stress is one of your “picking triggers” this would be a more preventative approach. it could also help right in the moment too though! we recommend clients use the simple habitcalm or insight timer apps for guided meditations. youtube has super helpful videos too, and if you find that meditating is difficult because your mind starts going a mile a minute when you try to sit quietly (my experience), then body scan meditations are a great place to start! i like this one because it’s only four minutes. meditating is a practice of being aware, and noticing your mind wander off (and bringing it back to the meditation) is awareness in itself.

turn the lights down low. we suggest that you refrain from turning the bathroom light on when doing your regimen. instead, you can light candles (i find this makes it more of a self-care routine versus a self-critique session), set up a himalayan salt lamp, or just simply leave the door open so the hallway light can get in. overall, the idea is to have more flattering lighting. one of our esties, kayla, never turns the big light on when doing her regimen and this has helped her immensely.

 

here are a few gadgets that you can try out. this toy soybean is a keychain so you could use on the go! this keychain is supposed to be like bubble wrap. if you want to try something that literally looks like a pimple, you could try this, called the pop it pal.

 

find (and use) resources online. check out our pinterest board on skin picking for more strategies to keep your hands off your face, as well as for ideas on how to live the acne-safe lifestyle to avoid the formation of acne in the first place!

free your mind with EFT! try using the emotional freedom technique (EFT). if you haven’t heard of it, do not worry, i did some research and included my findings below. i based most of the information on what gary craig, the founder of eft, says on his website and youtube videos. i think it has potential to help people stop picking their skin – it seems a little woo-woo but is worth a shot!

SOME BACKGROUND ON EFT:

according to gary craig, “the cause of all negative emotions is a disruption in the body’s energy system”. if that statement is true, based on that basic idea, energy disruptions are the reason for any emotional issue, whether it be actual emotions like grief or other issues that have emotional roots like stage fright. once you identify the energy disruption, you can use the tapping process to correct them. the eft tapping basic recipe is described in detail in this blog post so that you can simply read along and apply it to whatever personal issue you want to improve upon/release.

here’s another explanation of this technique given by holistic doctor mercola:

eft is a form of psychological acupressure, based on the same energy meridians used in traditional acupuncture to treat physical and emotional ailments for over 5,000 years, but without the invasiveness of needles. instead, simple tapping with the fingertips is used to input kinetic energy onto specific meridians on the head and chest while you think about your specific problem — whether it is a traumatic event, an addiction, pain, etc. — and voice positive affirmations.

this combination of tapping the energy meridians and voicing positive affirmation works to clear the “short-circuit” — the emotional block — from your body’s bioenergy system, thus restoring your mind and body’s balance, which is essential for optimal health and the healing of physical disease.

and yet another anecdote: after suffering from allergies for years, our founder + ceo finally found drug-free + long-term relief with advanced allergy clinic, whose work is very similar to EFT, as dr. mercola has described (except without the verbal affirmations). feel free to email kim@skinsalvationsf.com to find out more about her experience!

we are going to use the example problem of having the “urge to pick skin”. before reading on, if you want to watch an introductory video with some clips of people who have changed their lives using eft you can click here.

the points used are based on the pathways (meridians and vessels) that acupuncturists use. they are either on/near the end-points of the energy pathways or at points along these pathways that are close to the body’s surface. the theory is that the tapping stimulates the energy pathways thereby balancing the disruptions.

BASIC RECIPE FOR EFT:

one important thing to keep in mind: language used always aims at negative because it’s the negative that creates energy disruptions (and the eft goal is to neutralize them).

also, if you’re a visual learner, it might be helpful to watch the video i based the notes below on.

1st step: identify issue and make assessment on current intensity of problem, how bad on scale of 0-10.

  • example phrase: urge to pick at skin, level of 8.

2nd step: setup. tap the karate chop (KC) point with two or more fingers (fleshy part of outside of hand) while saying setup phrase in the format of “even though i have this ____, i deeply and completely accept myself.”

  • example phrase: even though i have this urge to pick my skin, i deeply and completely accept myself

3rd step: sequence. while tapping each point about five times, say a reminder phrase that includes a brief statement to remind our system what we’re working on. each point is marked on the diagram below.

  • example phrase: “this urge to pick my skin”

1st point: top of head (TOH). tap with your finger tips while saying reminder phrase.

2nd point: beginning of eyebrow point (EB). tap with 2 finger tips while saying reminder phrase.

3rd point: side of eye on corner of orbital bone (SE). tap with 2 finger tips while saying reminder phrase.

4th point: under eye on orbital bone (UE). tap with 2 finger tips while saying reminder phrase.

5th point: under the nose (UN). tap with 2 finger tips while saying reminder phrase.

6th point: chin point midway between bottom of lip and chin (CH). tap with 2 fingers while saying reminder phrase.

7th point: collarbone (CB). take fist and thump in area somebody would tie their tye while saying reminder phrase.

8th point: under armpit/on rib cage (UA). take finger and put right on hollow part of armpit, then go down straight 4 inches. tap with 4 fingers while saying reminder phrase.

4th step: reassess issue on scale of 0-10.

  • example: urge to pick at skin, level of 4.

5th step: repeat until goes down to zero or plateaus. if it plateaus, then according to gary, you need to get to the root of the issue more. you can read more about how to do that here.

KEEP US INFORMED:

if you use any of the suggestions mentioned in this post, let us know about your results so that we can better help other people! email emily@skinsalvationsf.com or frontdesk@skinsalvationsf.com

before + after micro-needling for acne scars

many of you are curious to know the results of my micro-needling experience to help reduce the appearance of textural scarring from acne. for a reminder about what textural scarring is and how micro-needling may help it, check out this blog post.

i received 6 full micro-needling treatments from natalie at the center for holistic skin rejuvenation in san francisco. during my initial consultation with her, i expressed that my main goal was to help reduce the appearance of the deep pitted scars on my cheeks where i used to have inflamed acne.

what were the treatments like? each treatment was one hour long. she began by cleansing my face with skinSALVATION charcoal cleanser, which i asked her to use to avoid future breakouts. she used a disposable needle roller on each area of my face for a total of about 10 minutes, which felt comparable to the pain of receiving extractions. after needling, she did full body acupuncture to help with internal issues like stress management, digestion, and hormone balance. i would lay on the table for 30 minutes with the acupuncture needles in, a heater on and relaxing music playing. this was my favorite part and felt like a total treat after the pain of the face treatment. at the end, she used safeguard sunscreen to help protect and moisturize my skin.

my skin felt hot and flushed for the remainder of the day and stayed pink for about 3 days post treatment. during these 3 healing days, i used hydrating cleanser morning and night, safeguard spf and hydrating cream. i didn’t use any other active products and did not apply makeup.

i waited at least 10 days before and after micro-needling treatments to receive extractions or chemical peels from skinSALVATION.

other than reduction of textural scarring, what did i notice? the micro-needling helped break up old scar tissue in my chin that looked like small seeds that we could never extract. i believe that these seeds were trapped so deep beneath scar tissue that they hadn’t been able to come to the surface before. micro-needling helped to bring these seeds to the surface, so i had a little bit of a, “purge” where i broke out. ultimately, this helped me be more clear and have a smooth chin.

am i happy with my results? yes. the reduction of my pitted textural scarring on my cheeks is not as dramatic as i anticipated. i hoped that after 6 treatments on micro-needling, the skin on my face would be flawless and as smooth as porcelain, but that wasn’t my experience. however, i love that:

  1. the scarring on my cheeks is much less noticeable
  2. i was able to bring the deep seeds in my chin up to the surface and get rid of them for good
  3. the acupuncture portion of the treatments helped me reduce overall stress and balance my hormones. my usual painful cramping associated with menstruation was MUCH better when i was receiving regular acupuncture from natalie.

who would i recommend this to? i would recommend micro-needling to people who have raised textural scarring on their skin. this might feel like little bumps on the skin that aren’t acne. if you aren’t sure if you have scarring or acne seeds, ask your esthetician at skinSALVATION.

if you have minimal pitted textural scarring, micro-needling may help you get closer to having completely smooth skin. like many treatments, there is no guarantee that you will have 100% success with this treatment. success depends on your skin type, genetics, natural collagen production, and severity of scarring.

the photos on the left-hand side are from before my treatments and the photos on the right are after 6 treatments, approximately 4.5 months later.

 

 

as you can see from the above photos (especially if you zoom in on them), there is some noticeable reduction in scarring on my cheeks and a reduction in hyper-pigmentation. the pigmentation is most likely lighter as a combined result of the micro-needling and chemical peels that i received during this time at skinSALVATION.

note from kim: keep in mind that this series of micro-needling was performed by an acupuncturist, and not a dermatologist.  acupuncturists are (legally) only able to work on the skin’s uppermost, superficial layers of the skin, rendering much milder results than a dermatologist would (who is legally able to access the deeper, subcutaneous dermal layers of the skin).  dermatologists, being board certified and having access to more aggressive tools and treatments, would likely be able to render more aggressive results.  for example, a dermatologist may employ anesthesia to numb you from the pain of going much deeper, into the dermal layers of the skin to stimulate more collagen remodeling, whereas acupuncturists are really only treating the epidermis, or upper-most superficial layers of the skin.

liesse has yet to explore the same therapy with a different, more aggressive approach, and we will be sure to document and share with you the results of further experimentation as we can!

 

 

the opinions expressed in this post are based on my personal experience. this does not reflect the opinions of practitioners who perform micro-needling.