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01-22-17 | Posted by

Board-certified dermatologist Dr. Dana Ellis is an expert in medical and cosmetic dermatology at The Savin Center. She studied under Dr. Lisa Donofrio at Tulane University and graduated first in her class from Tulane University School of Medicine in 2012. She worked as a Resident of Dermatology at Tulane Medical Center for three years, and served as Chief Resident during her final year.

As a former 2004 Olympic pole vaulter, Dr. Ellis brings a unique approach to treating her patients. In her experience as an Olympian, she knows each and every athlete is different and requires care personalized to their specific needs.

In addition to specializing in hair restoration treatments and PRP (Platelet-Rich Plasma) at both The Savin Center and Aria DermSpa, Dr. Ellis has advanced experience diagnosing and treating skin cancer.

BITB spoke with Dr. Ellis about skincare trends, her favorite procedures to perform on patients and what makeup products she can’t leave the house without.


1. What’s hot right now in skincare – trends, technologies, products, etc?

A welcomed trend is the fact that we are seeing SPF branching out into unique aspects of makeup like eyeshadow and lip gloss, as the eyelids and lips are often neglected when it comes to sun protection. When it comes to products like this, I really like Colorescience Sunforgettable Mineral Powder Eyescreen SPF 30 and Maybelline Baby Lips Moisturizing Lip Balm.

I am also a huge fan of the so-called “Beauty Balms”, especially those that contain SPF. My absolute favorite tinted sunscreen is Skin Ceuticals PHYSICAL FUSION UV DEFENSE SPF 50. It is super lightweight and contains transparent zinc oxide – the only physical UV filter spanning the full UVA/UVB spectrum. Its translucent color spheres appear to adapt to all skin tones and act to boost skin radiance.

Heliocare 360° SPF 50 is somewhat new. Its oral counterpart Heliocare has had a longer lifespan to date. Both contain Polypodium leucotomos, an extract of a Central American fern plant. Studies have shown that the fern extract increases the amount of time it takes for skin to burn when exposed to UV light. Like other antioxidants, it essentially helps to protect the skin from oxidative damage. Although the pill is a great adjunct to any sun protection regimen, it cannot and should not replace the topical application of sunblock. Heliocare 360° SPF 50 protects against both UVA and UVB and is high in antioxidant properties, including Vitamin C, E and green tea (in addition to polypodium leucotomos) to again, help neutralize free radicals and reduce photo-aging. Other features include a soft nude tone and a non-comedogenic and paraben-free formulation, suitable for most skin-types.

For acne-prone skin, I like EltaMD UV Clear – Tinted. It is a lightweight broad-spectrum SPF 46 sunscreen with a universal tint, that protects against UVA and UVB and also contains 5% niacinamide, a form of vitamin B3 that helps to relieve the irritation, redness and discoloration that often accompany acne. In addition, lactic acid acts as a gentle exfoliator. It wears nicely alone or under makeup.

Niacinamide is another exciting trend because there is growing research showing it benefits skin in a number of ways, including improving elasticity, regulating pore size, evening out skin tone and enhancing skin’s barrier function. We’re also starting to see its potential for helping with acne, which makes it a particularly great ingredient for those struggling with both pimples and wrinkles. One product containing niacinamide which I really like is Nia 24 Intensive Recovery Complex. It is a rich cream containing pro-niacin, helping to strengthen the skin barrier, prevent moisture loss and improve skin tone and texture. It also contains hyaluronic acid that acts to lock in hydration, encouraging a plumping effect, licorice root extract that brightens skin, and a peptide complex that helps repair photo-damage.

As far as new technologies go, the non-surgical fat reduction market is showing a huge increase. Coolsculpting, for example, essentially freezes fat cells, which the body then disposes of through the lymphatic system. The treatment is performed by placing an applicator on the treatment area, which attaches via vacuum suction and gradually freezes the targeted fat. Most patients need to undergo a course of treatments to achieve their desired results. Different Coolsculpting attachments are available; each made to treat a different area of the body.  The most commonly addressed areas being the abdomen, lower back, upper arms, and thighs. A little over a year ago the FDA approved the Coolsculpting “CoolMini” for treatment of the area under the chin.

Another fairly new product for submental fat reduction is Kybella. Kybella is deoxycholic acid, a bile acid that has been used in various fields of medicine. When injected in the submental chin, it dissolves fat cell membranes, thereby killing the cells, which are then cleared through the body’s lymphatic system. This procedure is generally quicker than a Coolsculpting treatment.

Finally, another very popular topic/procedure in the dermatology world these days, is PRP (platelet-rich plasma) therapy, for both hair loss and skin rejuvenation. I will discuss this more below.

2. What are the top 3 procedures you love to do for your patients and why? 

My favorite procedure to perform on patients is our PRP Facial Rejuvenation treatment, mostly because I feel you see improvement in fine lines and overall texture of the skin, even after just one treatment. Various growth factors, including platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF), transforming growth factor (TGF), vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), and insulin-like growth factor (IGF), are secreted from the α-granules of concentrated platelets in the PRP (platelet rich plasma).  After blood is drawn from the patient, it is placed in a centrifuge for several minutes. The centrifuge acts to separate the red blood cells from the PRP. The ultra-potent PRP is then deposited into the skin with a microchanneling device. The best aspect of this treatment is that the PRP is derived from the patient’s own whole blood, so there is little to no risk of adverse reactions, and there is no downtime following treatment. We are also doing PRP treatments for hair loss with success.

My other favorite device/procedure is the Clear + Brilliant laser. Of all the skin resurfacing lasers, Clear + Brilliant is one of the most gentle. Its intensity lies somewhere between receiving a microdermabrasion treatment and a more aggressive resurfacing procedure. Clear + Brilliant is a non-ablative fractional laser, which simply means that a fractional laser beam comes out like tiny pixel dots and affects only a “fraction” of the targeted skin, so that the healthy cells left behind can initiate a healing response. This regenerative action by the non-affected tissue is what rejuvenates the skin.  In addition, the Perméa treatment also enhances skin permeability, which increases the benefits of topical skin care products [like hyaluronic acid serum or CE Ferulic (vitamin C)] applied immediately after treatment. This is really how I like to use it most. It can be used as another means to “deposit” PRP intradermally for facial skin rejuvenation.

Finally, one of my very favorite procedures to perform is lip injections. When people hear the words “lip injections” they immediately think “duck lips”. Although adding volume is a common request, I much prefer to address shape; undefined Cupid’s bows, asymmetry, disproportionate top and bottom lips and turned down corners. It makes me feel like an artist. The lips are such a statement piece in the realm of the “face” that to make someone’s pretty lips prettier (not just larger, I said prettier) makes me so happy… and the patient too, I hope! There are so many new and different fillers currently on the market that are specifically designed for lips. It is really exciting. However, I would say 90 percent of the result has to do with the technique and only 10 percent has to do with the product. By using the proper technique, you can ensure that a patient’s lips will still look natural.

3. As a dermatologist, we have to ask you – what’s in your makeup bag? 

I have never been one to wear a lot of makeup; I think more out of admitted laziness than anything. In fact, if I thought I could get away with wearing none, and still look professional enough to go to work, I probably would. That said, there are staples that I keep in my makeup bag for everyday application. I think I share the opinion of most women out there when I say that if I could only choose only one product to apply daily, it would be mascara. It really does help to open up the eyes. You just feel less tired with it on! My mascara of choice is L’Oreal Voluminous Feline Waterproof mascara. This stuff stays put! My makeup bag also contains MAC Cosmetics Pigment Color Powder in Fuchsia. I use this as both a blush and eyeshadow at times; Marcelle Forever Sharp Waterproof eyebrow liner in Blond; Lancome Color Design eyeshadow palette in Blush Sweetness; and to top things off, EOS Shimmer Lip Balm in Sheer Pink.

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