What is Hyaluronic Acid? And Why Do You Want It?

Hyaluronic acid (HA) is a natural substance found in your own body as well as in topical serums and creams. Believe it or not, it is also the primary active ingredient in most injectable fillers used to replace lost volume in the face, for contouring purposes, or to fill in wrinkles and smooth the skin.


Hyaluronic acid is not an acid in the typical sense. It’s not a harsh chemical and it doesn’t strip your skin. In fact, it loves water. HA is a polysaccharide (complex sugar) that can absorb up to 1000 times its own weight in water. Application of HA-containing products leads to increased moisture in the skin which is especially great in dry climates.


In your body, HA is found in several places. It’s located in between skin cells, where it holds water keeping the skin plump and moist. It’s also found in the eyes and in joint spaces, providing lubrication and shock absorption. As we age, the amount of HA in our bodies is diminished. This leads to volume loss, dullness, and a more weathered appearance of the skin.


There are no skin conditions or skin types that cannot benefit from use of HA. In fact, most OTC beauty products that claim to be anti-aging will have at least a small amount of HA in them. Medical grade products, however, will contain higher levels and a higher quality grade of HA. HA serums and creams can be used under sunscreen and other products to humidify the skin and keep it plump and firm, reducing fine lines and wrinkles. Consistent, prolonged use leads to long-term support for the youthful appearance of the skin.


Shah Aesthetic Surgery recently launched Alchemy, our medical grade skin care product line containing HA. Our moisturizer for daytime use contains a high level of hyaluronic acid to increase water content in the skin, firming and plumping up the delicate tissues of the face where our skin needs the most support. Colorado’s semi-arid climate is very drying to the skin so it’s especially important to give it some extra support to keep it moisturized.


You can also find HA in pill form. Long term benefits of taking HA supplements are unknown. It may do you some good and there are no safety concerns, but using HA topically is a more sure fire way to benefit the skin.


As mentioned, HA is also found in injectable fillers such as RestylaneTM, BeloteroTM, JuvedermTM, and VolumaTM. These fillers have very consistent results in replacing lost volume in the face, contouring, filling in wrinkles, and smoothing the skin. HA fillers last between 6 and 24 months depending on which filler is used. At our office in Denver, Dr. Shah is an expert injector for these fillers and in using them is able to achieve significantly improved, natural looking results. Injectable fillers with HA are a very widely used non-surgical cosmetic treatment.


Another use of hyaluronic acid is in the treatment of osteoarthritis. Injections of HA into the joint can help improve shock absorption in joints affected by OA. Injections can also give temporary relief from joint pain, especially when combined with other treatments for OA.

With its many applications, use of hyaluronic acid is an important player in anti-aging both cosmetically and physically. If you are interested in use of HA in skin care or injectable fillers, contact us for more information.

Summer Skin Care – The Basics of Looking Good!

Well here in Denver, Winter is about to be over!  Signs of Spring are all over the place.  I’ll be going up into the mountains for one last hurrah on the slopes with the family.  Summer is the next hurdle for patients of Shah Aesthetic Surgery.  Being a mile up in the air makes for some brutal skin aging.  The air is thinner, colder, and dryer.  The sun is definitely more intense.

People age much faster in my opinion in this alpine desert environment.  There are things you can do about it, so don’t fret!

Here is a list of simple options for great Summer Skin Care:

1. Water – drinking water keeps your skin cells plump and protected.  Summer in Denver means more outdoor activity.  This means more sweating, so keep your water intake high to protect your skin.

2. Sunblock – I am a big advocate for high SPF sunblock.  I personally use a 55 SPF sunblock with UVA/UVB blocking capabilities.  While sunblock in makeup is a good idea, it just really isn’t enough protection up here in Denver since we really get intense sun exposure more than 275 days per year.

3. Vitamin C – this vitamin is really the most important vitamin for making new collagen.  Since is it water soluble 1000-2000mg daily is a safe dose.

4. Exfoliant usage – I am a fan of topical exfoliant serum usage.  Retinols and Vit C/E serums top my list.  I personally prefer Vit C/E because it more gently treats my skin and is safer in sun exposed populations. That being said, Retinols are the superior serum.  Just remember to wear good sunblock and protect your face with a big hat.

5.  Chemical peels – Winter’s cold, dry air has done a number on your skin.  You can recapture some of the ground lost in the war on facial aging by getting a chemical peel.  A chemical peel uses different safe organic acids to gently loosen skin and have it peel off.  This is a more immediate result than the use of exfoliant serums alone.  Depending on the strength of the chemical peel, you can have one as often as on a monthly basis.  Skin looks brighter with a more even texture when you get a chemical peel.  Heck, I even gently peel my own face.  If you see me in person, you’ll realize why I am such a fan.  They are easy to do, easy to recover from, are low risk, and give results!

6.  Eat cleanly – this is a no brainer!  What you put in your body shows in your skin.  Here in Denver, there is no shortage of good food.  I eat both natural and organic as much as I can.  It is expensive, yes, but well worth it when done carefully.  But, even if you shop at a conventional grocery store, you can make healthy choices that will benefit your overall health.  And, everyone knows that Healthy is a lot sexier than Unhealthy!

Now get to it!

Summer is over! What about my skin?

Most of us experienced quite a hot summer in 2013. Now that it is over, what are you doing about all that new skin exposure and aging? If you are smart, you are going to try and reverse some of the damage! Here are some tips on how to do just that:

1. Hydrate and Moisturize – It is important to make sure that you are drinking enough water to keep the cells in your skin plump and healthy. Moisturizer, when used properly, serves to seal in this moisture and maximize water retention in the skin.

2. Sunblock – I am a big fan of using full spectrum sunblock. You should make sure you maximize block of UVA and UVB. In most areas of the country, an SPF of 30, should be enough protection. Here is Denver, Colorado, I recommend use of at least an SPF of 50, because of the greater intensity of the sun up at “Mile High” altitudes.

3. Retinols – I LOVE retinols. Retinols are Vitamin A derivates in cream or gel form that you put on your skin every night to regenerate and improve all the layers of your skin. As you get older and experience more skin damage, the epidermis (outer layer) of your skin gets thicker and uneven, while the dermis (inner layer, strength layer) gets thinned out. This leads to older looking skin with wrinkles and volume loss. Retinols (eg. Retin-A) reverse this process. If you love the sun, then avoid retinols, as they make you more sun sensitive. Also, the reversal lasts only as long as you use this product, so make sure to stay in it for the long haul!

4. Skin procedures – To make a bigger dent in the aging your face experienced this Summer, I would recommend looking into non-invasive or minimally invasive skin procedures to remove some of the damage. A common procedure with no downtime is microdermabrasion. This procedure uses crystals or water to pressure exfoliate the top layers of skin. What you get is a polished refreshed look to the skin. This procedure is gentle enough to reperform on a monthly basis. Another procedure that is a particular favorite of mine is the chemical peel. Chemical peels use organic acids like glycolic, salicylic, and TCA to peel of layers of skin to depths greater than microdermabrasion. Typically, patients will need 2-5 days downtime, but the results are typically outstanding. Finally, when patients want the greatest amount of change and downtime is no matter, I recommend the use of fractional laser resurfacing. The gold standard is the use of fractional CO2 laser resurfacing. With this technology, you are basically creating a computer-controlled “sun burn” of the face using laser energy instead of UV radiation.

If you would like to learn more about after Summer skincare, please call Jenny at (303) 708-8234 to make an appointment to speak with me.

Like us on Facebook at Shah Aesthetic Surgery

Follow us on Twitter