The list of our expectations from skin care products and procedures is l-o-o-o-n-g. We want wrinkles and brown spots to disappear, skin become tighter and firmer, dark circles and puffiness under the eyes – GONE! How reasonable are our expectations? When I start patients on a new skin care regimen I want them to be excited about it, but at the same time, I educate patients about WHAT they should expect from their skin care regimen, and WHEN the result will become noticeable. Expecting perfection is not realistic, expecting improvement is. Just as the book “What to expect when you’re expecting” tells a pregnant mother what to expect at each stage of her pregnancy, I too take the same approach when recommending skin care regimens or procedures to my patients. An informed patient is always a better patient!In order to have realistic expectations about their prospective improvements, patients need to understand what processes are taking place within the skin at each step during the course of the treatment, knowing that, these processes will take TIME. I often have to remind patients that it took blah-blah years to accumulate the skin damage, so it will take some time (and commitment) to fix it. Repair is never as good as prevention, particularly with sun damage. Depending on the patient’s pre-treatment skin condition, the time and the degree of improvement will vary substantially. It is clinically proven that skin improvement from anti-aging products that contain antioxidants and growth factors, as well as laser treatments and chemical peels, require certain time to build up. For example, laser treatments and chemical peels initially create inflammation in the skin, but as the skin heals, a number of beneficial changes occur. The first signs of improvement, such as more even skin color, smoother texture, and reduction in hyperpigmentation, can be seen as soon as 2 weeks after the procedure. On the other hand, the changes within the skin, dermal regeneration, such as: collagen stimulation, re-orientation of new skin connective tissue and skin tightening can take several months. Keep in mind, these changes are gradual; they will not appear over night. Since we are looking in the mirror (sometime magnifying mirror) every day in anticipation of improvement, those steady changes often are not that easy to see. I always take pre-treatment photographs, which help me objectively evaluate the patient’s progress, and also give the patient a chance to compare. The improvements seen from anti-aging skin care products are even more gradual than with procedures. To see the effect of the product, you have to use it for at least several weeks, not just a few days. Ask yourself: have I given it enough time for the product to work?The answer to better skin is not a “magic potion”, but rather a scientifically-based approach to addressing your skin care concern. When paired with compliance and patience, people are sure to start complimenting you on the appearance of your skin and then you will know it was all worthwhile.