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Have you ever stopped to think how many times a day the skin on your elbows and knees is subjected to stretching? These areas of thicker skin are affected by virtually every move you make (and bear the brunt of a lot of leaning), so it’s no wonder we all experience dryness and some degree of wrinkling and crinkling by a certain age.
According to dermatologist Dr. Janet Allenby of Allenby Cosmetic Dermatology in Delray Beach, Florida and Boca Raton’s BodySquad, “These areas get a lot of action and the skin is not rich in sebaceous glands, so it doesn’t get natural lubrication from the body.” The main concerns Dr. Allenby hears from patients when it comes to these spots are actually adjacent to the joints, and not the knees or elbows themselves. “The skin above the knees and on the front side of the elbows are the main aesthetic issues, and they are usually due to years of sun exposure or weight loss,” she explains.
If you’re wondering what you can do to improve the appearance of these small yet highly visible body parts (especially in summertime), here are a few ways to smooth things over—on your elbows and knees, at least.
Many of us go to great lengths in terms of facial skincare but fail to give body skin the attention it deserves. Caring for skin on the body—including the elbows and knees—requires a similar regimen, including gentle cleansing, light exfoliation, hydration and sunscreen. “In cases of excessive discoloration or skin laxity, products with retinol or retinoids can help lighten and firm the skin,” Dr. Allenby shares.
Some women (and men) are prone to darker skin on the elbows and knees as compared to surrounding areas, and office-based laser treatments or Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) and pigment reducing lasers can help with unwanted discoloration and restore more even skin tone. According to Boca Raton plastic surgeon Jason Pozner, “The NanoLaserPeel from Sciton’s erbium technology can be tuned up or down to achieve the results and downtime desired. It is an easy, precise way to get smoother, more even toned skin.”
Non-invasive fat reduction
Many popular non-invasive fat-reduction treatments can be performed with smaller handpieces to effectively reduce bulges in these smaller spots. “Fat around the knees and above the elbows is highly resistant to diet and exercise. If these areas are especially bothersome to a patient, one recommendation would be CoolSculpting the area with Cool-Mini. This downtime-free treatment literally freezes and destroys stubborn fat cells so the body can eliminate them naturally,” said Dr. Allenby. Patients generally need one to two treatments depending on their body size and goals, and although it can take three to four months to see the final outcomes, many begin to see improvement as soon as one month after treatment.
Skin laxity and sagging caused by accumulated sun exposure, significant weight loss and the natural aging process can be improved with radiofrequency, ultrasound and non-ablative fractional skin resurfacing. Despite the energy used, these treatments help smooth and tighten the skin by stimulating collagen production. “Secret RF is an effective option for skin around the elbows and knees, as this customizable treatment combines microneedling with radiofrequency for visible improvement with minimal downtime. To achieve the optimal effect, 3-4 treatments are typically needed,” said Kansas City aesthetic gynecologist, James Mirabile, MD.