Ice Is Nice: Anti-Aging Cooling Treatments
If you think back to your childhood, you probably saw mom or grandma soothing tired eyes and such with ice cubes. You also may have been told to try a cold shower to improve your blood circulation or cool down after a stressful day. Ice cubes and cold showers have been known to have anti-aging and beauty effects, so I delved into the science behind it.
Ice Ice Baby
“The cold leads to constriction of the blood vessels, known as vasoconstriction, so the small veins and arteries in the lower lids shrink and become less noticeable,” explains Dr. Adam Rubinstein, a board-certified plastic surgeon. “This reduces the dark circles and purple color of the lower lids.”
The contraction and dilation of blood vessels has a ripple effect on the skin – it causes minimal skin contractions which tighten up the skin. “If you have fine lines that are related to laxity, they might reduce with ice treatments,” notes Dr. Rubinstein. After the vasoconstriction effect, vasodilation occurs which improves the oxygen and nutrient supply to the skin’s surface making it radiant.
Cold Treatments for the Face
Facial masks that are chilled in a refrigerator and then placed on the face have a similar effect on the skin as ice does. They usually contain some amounts of topicals and antioxidants for therapeutic effect. Such masks are good for soothing the skin after hot treatments like lasers, peels and IPL. It’s not a treatment in itself, just a really good tool to soothe hot or inflamed skin, says Dr. Rubenstein.
Ice rollers are handheld devices filled with water and gel, which require refrigeration prior to use and work by simply gliding it across your skin. They have similar effects as ice on the skin and are also ideal for soothing bruises, reducing inflammation and redness after a peel or facial. Cold therapies like this minimize the appearance of enlarged pores underneath make-up, so the foundation looks smoother as well.
Iovera, a toxin-free wrinkle treatment the beauty world is calling “Frotox” works through a system called Focused Cold Therapy. It freezes the nerves that control the muscles which cause wrinkles for up to four months and is currently available in Europe and Canada. Iovera is already used in the U.S. for pain management but currently under review by the FDA as a wrinkle treatment.
Liquid nitrogen is extremely cold and freezes up living tissue. Applying small amounts of it to treat skincare problems like warts, skin tags and growths are proving to be effective. It can also be used to reduce inflammation and gently exfoliate skin. However, it does have risks, if held over skin too long it can cause skin pigmentation issues.
Cold Treatments for the Body
One of the popular cold body treatments is CoolSculpting, a noninvasive fat reduction technology developed by ZELTIQ Aesthetics. It uses cold temperatures to permanently reduce fat in trouble spots such as the stomach and love handles. Dr. Rubinstein recommends CoolSculpting for the right patient - someone who has a small area to treat and a small amount of excess fat they want to reduce.
The devices that freeze the skin to remove skin lesions like warts and other small growths are effective; however they do cause a little discomfort, says Dr. Rubinstein. Cryo 6, a laser developed by Zimmer, to treat spider veins has a built-in cold air blower that is used to soothe the skin during treatment.
So there you have it, the ice age is upon us! Besides the facial masks and rollers, all the cold therapies should be performed in the office of a board-certified plastic surgeon. To find one in your area use the Find A Surgeon search tool.