From correcting summer sun damage to preparing for the holiday season, three board certified plastic surgeons offer their advice about the best invasive and non-invasive cosmetic procedures to consider for autumn.
While spring may be known to come in like a lion and go out like a lamb, the fall season offers its own kind of reality check. The lazy days of summer have slipped away, leaving us to deal with the aftermath of too much fun in the sun (think: UV damage, clogged pores, inflammation, and the like).
But that’s not all. Autumn also serves as the calm before the holiday storm, which makes it the ideal time to take stock of your beauty routine and create a game plan for the busy months ahead.
So, what are the best invasive and non-invasive procedures to consider during sweater season? The AEDITON went straight to the experts for the scoop on how to make the transition from hot summer nights to brisk fall mornings as smooth as a freshly lasered complexion.
Is Plastic Surgery Seasonal?
The short answer is: yes — and no.
At the end of the day, when and why someone chooses to get a cosmetic procedure is more circumstantial than seasonal. “It’s really more about your lifestyle rather than the season,” says Scottsdale, Arizona-based plastic surgeon Richard Brown, MD. “It’s about who you are, what you do, and when you can get time off to recover.”
Teachers and students, for example, tend to schedule their procedures (especially nose jobs) during the summer months to coincide with school break. Others may use vacation time or plan something between Christmas and New Year’s. But that’s not to say that the time of year shouldn’t be at least taken into account.
Cosmetic surgeries like breast augmentation, breast reduction, and body contouring tend to be more popular in northern (read: colder) regions during the autumn and winter months because they can be more easily concealed under the seasons’ layers of clothing. Additionally, facial surgeries and skin resurfacing, which require minimal sun exposure afterwards, are best performed when patients can heal indoors. And Dr. Brown says that reconstructive surgeries, like Mohs for skin cancer or an earlobe repair, are often scheduled during the fall and winter months to minimize post-surgery sun. Correcting UV-related damage (think: hyperpigmentation, crepiness, etc.) and scheduling pre-holiday tweakments are also things to consider come fall.
The Concern: Reversing Summer Sun Damage
After several sweaty months of slathering on sunscreen and spending hours outdoors, chances are your face is freaking out. Clogged pores, breakouts, fine lines, and sunspots are often the unwelcome souvenirs of our summer vacations. “When we’re talking about skin damage, the biggest player is the sun,” says Philadelphia plastic surgeon Jason Bloom, MD. “Summer is the time to protect, and fall is the time to repair.”
When it comes to determining what treatment is right for you, Dr. Bloom notes that the techniques used to repair sun damaged skin are as much dependent on the patient’s available downtime as they are on the state of his or her complexion.
The general rule of thumb: the more intensive the treatment, the more recovery time required.
Beverly Hills facial plastic surgeon Jonathan Cabin, MD, for instance, has four different treatment plans for evening out post-summer skin tone and texture that involve everything from makeup to lasers.
- For a Quick Fix: Apply a Full Coverage Foundation
When in doubt, concealer and foundation are the simplest way to lessen the appearance of sunspots and other forms of hyperpigmentation — and don’t forget that they can be used on the face and body (think: neck, décolleté, shoulders). Dr. Cabin likes products by Oxygenetix because they offer a breathable, full coverage finish.
- For a Short Term Glow: Try Microneedling with Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP)
Also known as a “vampire facial,” the minimally invasive procedure helps boost radiance, even out skin tone, and treat wrinkles with minimal downtime (about five to seven days of swelling and/or redness) and both immediate and long term results. In a nutshell, the microneedling process involves creating micro-punctures in the skin with a needle-lined device. Those wounds stimulate collagen production by activating the body’s natural healing process. Massaging the skin with the PRP concentration, meanwhile, further boosts the reparative response.
The result? A radiant, more even complexion. “PRP microneedling immediately creates swelling, which lends that temporary glow,” explains Dr. Cabin. “It also has a cumulative effect of building more elastin and collagen.” He recommends three treatments over the course of three months for full results and then twice yearly maintenance after that.
- For Seriously Smoother Skin: Opt for a Fractionated CO2 Laser Treatment
Dr. Cabin says he steers clear of some of the heavily marketed, less aggressive lasers in favor of this tired-and-true resurfacing powerhouse. “If a laser treatment promises very little pain or downtime, chances are it’s just not that effective,” he warns. “Fractionated CO2 laser for skin resurfacing is the gold standard. It very, very aggressively treats the top layer of the skin, stimulating the body to create new layers of cells.”
Although highly effective for the right candidate, this treatment isn’t advisable for patients with melasma or darker skin tones, as it can exacerbate pigmentation in those cases. Additionally, it’s a lengthy process — requiring weeks of pre-op skincare prep and six weeks or more of recovery.
- For Long Term Maintenance: Invest in a Seasonal Skincare Routine
The best skincare routines are practiced daily and customized seasonally. “If it were up to me, every patient would be on a really high-grade skincare regimen,” says Dr. Cabin. “It’s probably the best thing you can do to prevent and reverse skin damage.”
If you opted for a milder routine for summer (since ingredients like retinoids can increase sun sensitivity), fall is the time to beef things up. Dr. Cabin recommends a combination of vitamin C for antioxidant and brightening benefits, a prescription hydroquinone to lighten hyperpigmentation, and a vitamin A derivative, like tretinoin, to stimulate collagen production. And don’t forget about sunscreen! Even though you may not be hitting the beach, daily UV exposure is just as damaging and certain treatments and skincare can make the complexion more sensitive.
Dr. Cabin also adds neuromodulator injections like Botox®, Dysport®, Jeuveau®, and Xeomin® (check out our guide to botulinum toxin type-A injectables HERE) into the mix to keep wrinkles at bay year round. By inhibiting muscle contraction, the toxin both prevents and reverses the formation of fine lines and wrinkles.
The Concern: Pre-Holiday Tweakments and Treatments
Just as summer bodies are made in the winter, holiday-ready complexions are made in the fall — and so are appointments for more invasive procedures. Due to the high holiday season demand, all three surgeons agree that the most critical consideration for fall is planning for the end of the year. “The busiest time is around the holidays because that’s when everyone is trying to get stuff done,” says Dr. Cabin.
Another consideration? Insurance. Dr. Brown notes that if part or all of your procedure will be covered by insurance, it is important to book as early as possible to ensure that you can secure a surgery slot before the end of the year.
Whether you want to look your best for the holiday party season or you’re planning a cosmetic procedure to coincide with your time off from work, it is important to keep in mind the time commitment involved. “Always ask about what the downtime is,” advises Dr. Cabin. “You have to really consider everything in your schedule so you’re not going to be looking like you’ve had something done when you have to be in the public eye.”
While your board certified plastic surgeon or dermatologist will walk you through the pre- and post-op timeline and care instructions, we’ve put together a cheat sheet with the approximate time it will take to have you looking your best after some of the season’s most popular invasive and non-invasive surgeries and treatments. Here, a general timeline of when you can expect to be “camera ready” following a procedure:
Minimally Invasive Cosmetic Procedures - Botulinum Toxin Type-A Injections: Initial results in 3 to 5 days, full results in 2 weeks - Chemical Peel: Varies by intensity (light peels have a few days of flaking and sensitivity; redness from medium peels can persist for upwards of a month; deep peels require two weeks of total downtime and then two months or more of recovery) - Dermal Filler: Swelling and bruising resolve in 5 to 7 days, full results in 2 weeks - Microneedling: Redness and swelling subside in about a week, while peak glow kicks in at 2 weeks
Moderately Invasive Cosmetic Procedures - CO2 Laser Skin Resurfacing: Dr. Cabin puts his patients on a 6-week pre-treatment skincare routine to maximize results, which are usually seen around 6 weeks post-op - Laser Hair Removal: Minimum 3 months of no sun exposure on treatment area is recommended, and 3 to 7 sessions (spaced 4 to 6 weeks apart) are usually required for best results
Invasive Cosmetic Surgeries - Facelift: Many patients are back to work in 2 weeks, but notice true healing after the 6 week mark - Liposuction: Full activities can usually resume at 3 weeks post-op, around which time swelling and bruising also resolve - Rhinoplasty: While you’ll likely be feeling like yourself again after 6 weeks, 3 months is preferable as swelling subsides - Tummy Tuck: You’ll want to leave yourself at least 6 weeks post-op before any major events
While this guide is merely an estimate of the time it will take to have you back hitting the town, remember that busy surgeons book up fast (the three we interviewed are currently scheduling for end of year), so don’t delay if you have a time-sensitive situation. Dr. Bloom also suggests that patients considering plastic surgery procedures this winter schedule their consultations now.