Tretinoin is the generic name for Retin-A, Retin-A micro, Avite, Atralin, or Renova.  Most people will refer to tretinoin as Retin-A. Retin-A is the second most important topical skin care product used to maintain youthful skin, behind daily use of sunscreen. Many people are familiar with Retin-A for the treatment of acne in younger patients. However, the skin rejuvenation effects of Retin-A have made it the top skin treatment. Retin-A requires a prescription and is NEVER sold over the counter.

Products containing retinol ARE NOT the same as products containing Retin-A. Retinol is the precursor to Retina-A. When applied to the skin, a portion is converted by the enzymes in the skin to Retin-A. The retinol products can be used as a first line treatment for those who are sensitive to Retin-A.  If skin sensitivity is not an issue, Dr. Maloney recommends using Retin-A for improving the signs of aging. As products containing retinol are weaker, using a retinol will not lead to the same level of results.

Skin Aging

In response to repeated trauma our skin thickens. A great example of this occurs when golfers, gardeners, or tennis players develop callouses on their hands from repeatedly using their equipment. The same thing happens to the face and neck after years of repeated sun and wind damage. The skin thickens and we say the complexion dulls.

Our skin has two layers. The first layer is the outer protective layer and the second is the supporting layer with the collagen. Retin-A has several benefits for our skin:

  • It helps to exfoliate the outer layer, bringing it down to a more normal thickness.
  • It stimulates the blood supply to the skin.
  • It lightens dark spots
  • It decreases the incidence of skin cancers.

The outer layer of skin is constantly growing. When we are in our twenties, the skin is growing in a very organized fashion. As we begin to mature, the growth pattern becomes more disorganized leading to pre-cancers and skin cancers. Retin-A helps to restore the orderly growth pattern, thus making our skin not only look better, but it is actually healthier.

How to Use Retin-A

How to Apply:

The skin should be washed and dried. If the skin is wet when the Retin-A is applied it may cause more irritation and peeling. Therefore, waiting for 25-30 minutes after washing is ideal. Retin-A is generally applied in the evening, as it is inactivated by ultraviolet light. A good sunblock/sunscreen is important, as the skin will be more sensitive to the sun.
90% of patients who use Retin-A will experience the retinoid reaction-dryness, redness, and peeling. One does not have to go through this reaction to achieve the desirable effects of Retin-A. One can mix the Retin-A with equal parts moisturizer (Eucerin or Cetaphil) and apply the mixture to the face, neck and chest. It is important to always apply any facial treatments to all three areas so they match. The neck and chest skin are thinner and often show signs of aging before the face. Apply the mixture every other night, and increase to every night as tolerated. When tolerating every night, gradually decrease the amount of moisturizer until tolerating it at full strength. Some patients may never be able to tolerate full strength Retin-A and may need to always mix it. The neck and chest are generally more delicate and may do best with a mixture. It just depends on the patient. The end goal is to apply enough Retin-A to begin to see changes-spots lightening, skin smoothing, easier makeup application and the skin luminescence (glow) returning. Since the outer layer of the skin turns over about every 4-6 weeks, it is best to evaluate one’s skin every month for some positive change. If none is visible, apply more.

Who Should Not Use Retin-A:

Retin-A should be discontinued a few days to one week, depending on one’s skin, prior to waxing or prolonged sun exposure.  Pregnant or breast feeding women should not use Retin-A, as the safety of Retin-A has not been studied in this group.

(div>The Maloney Center for Facial Plastic Surgery understands that your face is the first thing people notice about you. Dr. Maloney and his staff use their experience, compassion, and artistry to provide personalized care and state-of-the-art facial plastic surgery treatments and procedures to the residents of Atlanta, Sandy Springs, the surrounding communities in Georgia, and patients from around the world for optimal health, aesthetics, and patient satisfaction.