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5 mins with Waterhouse Young’s Dr Saira Vasdev

Latest in Beauty’s Q&A with Dr Saira Vasdev

Waterhouse Young’s resident aesthetic doctor shares some of her expertise on skin and aesthetic treatments with Latest in Beauty.


What do you believe is the most important thing for healthy, beautiful looking skin?

Despite the skin being the body’s largest organ and highly active physiologically speaking, it is one of the last to receive vital nutrients and hydration. This can leave it prone to damage and disease if supply does not meet its demands. The condition of the skin is a true reflection on the health of our internal organs and there are many systemic disorders that manifest as skin abnormalities. It also weathers the storm of environmental aggressors from the external surface including UV damage and pollution. It’s no wonder that we all struggle to achieve flawless skin! Beautiful and healthy skin must start from within. This includes a healthy nutritious diet, plenty of hydration, regular exercise and not smoking. Sun protection with SPF is also key as UVA destroys our precious collagen and is the biggest accelerator of premature ageing. Only once we have laid the foundations with the above can we achieve fabulous glowing skin with skin care products, rejuvenation treatments and collagen supplements.

When assessing someone’s skin, what are the key things you look for?

I always examine the full face, neck, décolletage and the back of the hands, as they display the tell-tale signs of ageing. I start by observing the overall tone and texture of the skin, and ask myself is the appearance of the skin consistent with the patient’s true age? A full medical and lifestyle history is important in providing clues on how to address the skin’s need first, before prescribing any treatments. I look for enlarged pores, excess oil production, congestion and blemishes as adult acne is common in pre-menopausal women. On top of that, I examine for pigmentation problems and signs of redness and inflammation. I will also look for signs of “photo-ageing” which occurs as a result of chronic sun exposure and tends to manifest as brown/age spots, fine lines, deep wrinkles, textural changes and loss of skin laxity caused by loss of collagen and elastin fibres resulting in sagging of the skin.

What is the most common skin issue you encounter as a doctor, and how do you treat it?

The most common skin complaint I encounter is related to sun damage, which manifests as uneven skin tone with freckling, brown spots and in some cases hyperpigmentation. There may also be the appearance of small scaly sun damaged patches of skin on sun exposed areas which may be pinkish or brown in colour. These are lesions called Acitinic Keratoses (AK) and are pre-cancerous with approximately 10-15% developing into a Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC), a type of skin cancer. There is usually significant collagen and elastin loss as a result of sun damage so the skin appears leathery in texture with fine lines and deep wrinkles causing premature ageing of the skin. Sun damaged skin may also appear very dry and dehydrated and small thread veins can appear on the face and chest due to increased fragility of the small blood vessels.

An effective skin care regime can help to prevent further damage, and help stimulate new collagen production. This can include products that are rich in antioxidants, exfoliate, and correct pigmentation issues. In clinic, I recommend a course of skin rejuvenation treatments such as Hydrafacials, chemical peels or medical microneedling. In more advanced cases, the use of energy based treatments for fractional skin resurfacing and skin tightening are beneficial.

What would your advice be to anyone who is considering aesthetic treatments, but is unsure?

Do your research. The scope of aesthetic treatments for facial and body rejuvenation is rapidly expanding and you need to ensure that you are choosing safe and effective treatments which are backed by clinical evidence. Find a reputable medical practitioner and book a consultation in the first instance to explore what your options are and be advised on the best treatments to address your concerns. I always recommend a brief “cooling off” period where the patient can take away information from the consultation and really think about what they want to achieve and how. I would also recommend avoiding an aesthetic treatment immediately before a special event such as a wedding, as there is always the risk of complications and possible downtime. Also it is advisable to avoid sun exposure after certain resurfacing treatments due to increased risk of pigmentation and UV damage, so some treatments are best planned around any holidays. I always give my patients a written plan for the year so they can budget appropriately and plan for any possible downtime.

For someone who doesn’t want injectables, what other types of aesthetic treatments are out there?

I treat many patients who would like to make the most of their appearance and “age well”, however are reluctant to undergo injectable treatments for various reasons. Whether it be the fear of looking “unnatural” due to negative media press or the fear of being judged by their friends and family…injectables are not for everybody and indeed there are many patients who are not the ideal candidate for these treatments. Great results can be achieved with a bespoke skin care plan and selected rejuvenation treatments depending on their concerns. These include medical facials such as the Hydrafacial, which I mentioned previously. They exfoliate the skin and infuse serums rich in hyaluronic acid, antioxidants and vitamins to restore health and hydration to the skin. Chemical peels are excellent for brightening sun damaged skin by removing the outer layer of dull and damaged skin cells. Great results are seen with microneedling to improve the tone and texture of the skin, especially in cases of acne scarring as it stimulates new collagen production. To improve skin elasticity and tightness, energy based treatments such as radiofrequency and ultrasound therapy are ideal. Laser therapy also has a wide scope when treating the skin – from treating scars and pigmentation to general rejuvenation.

New treatments are constantly becoming available – how do you keep up with the best ones to offer to your clientele?

The best way to keep up to date with new products, treatments and techniques is to attend industry conferences and congresses. At these events the leading experts in aesthetic medicine, dermatology, plastic surgery and dentistry come together to deliberate over the best treatments and how to maintain excellence in clinical care. As the industry is rapidly growing, there is quite a lot of clinical research into new treatments which is really exciting. We are constantly raising standards and increasing the spectrum of treatments available to our patients. It is really important to stay abreast of all the latest advances in aesthetic medicine and electronic journals, social media and magazines enable you to constantly keep your finger on the pulse.

Last but not least – What is your personal beauty mantra?

“If you are confident you are beautiful”. My motivation is to inspire a sense of wellbeing within my patients by using quality aesthetic treatments to enhance their natural beauty. Nothing gives me more satisfaction than achieving the results my patient’s desire and seeing the impact it has on not only their lives but the lives of those around them. Small changes can make a big difference to a person’s confidence and self-esteem, and nothing gives me more pleasure than to hear positive feedback about what they have been able to achieve in life as a result of their treatment.

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