Amy Wechsler is a family dermatologist practicing in New York City. Amy’s background as a psychiatrist has led to her humanistic approach to caring for the skin. Amy has appeared in shows such as the Tyra Banks show and her expert skincare opinions are often featured in many beauty editorials. Read more about Amy and her tips to a beautiful skin.
You are board certified in dermatology and psychiatry, why did you decide to combine the two?
I have always been interested in the mind-body connection, and I felt that becoming both a dermatologist and psychiatrist would allow me to care for the most outer and most inner aspects of my patients. Skin conditions have a unique interface with the mind because of being on the outside and therefore adding issues of how the individual’s self esteem and sense of self are affected, in addition to the way the public reacts to seeing the various skin conditions. I consider myself to be a “holistic dermatologist,” in that I take care of my patients’ bodies and minds.
Where is your clinic based and what skincare services do you specialize in?
My office is in New York City, on Park Avenue on the Upper East Side. I treat patients from infancy through adulthood, and I specialize in both medical and cosmetic dermatology. I enjoy taking care of entire families, and I love that my day is extremely varied.
Which of your treatments are most popular?
Full body skin exams to check for skin cancer, laser hair removal and other laser treatments, chemical peels, diamondtome microdermabrasion, acne treatments, photodynamic therapy.
“Our skin is a very active organ, not just the passive barrier that we used to think it was. The mind and other organs all communicate with each other, both directly through nerves and indirectly through chemical messengers. “
Do you have any plans to develop your own skincare line?
Not immediately – I like being unbiased in what I recommend to my patients, and I am not interested in creating “me-too” products. I have some ideas about developing a few products that would actually work…. right now I am working hard on my book, as it is coming out in april of 08.
Which skincare routine is essential for keeping a healthy skin?
A simple 3 minute routine will keep skin healthy. In the morning, cleansing with a gentle cleaner/soap (no washcloths on your face!), gentle exfoliation (not necessary every day), moisurizer and sunscreen. At night cleansing and moisturizing are key in addition to a treatment such as a topical retinoid or an anti-oxidant cream/serum.
Why does mental stress and poor diet have such a negative impact on our skin?
Our skin is a very active organ, not just the passive barrier that we used to think it was. The mind and other organs all communicate with each other, both directly through nerves and indirectly through chemical messengers. Mental stress causes an increase in stress hormone release (i.e. cortisol) from the brain, and these stress hormones create inflammation in all organs, including and especially the skin. inflammation can cause pimples, wrinkles, and dry, itchy, sallow skin. poor diets are low in all of the good vitamins and minerals that are essential to skin’s health. Also, people with poor diets are often not hydrating enough, leading to dry and listless skin.
In your opinion, do expensive skincare products work better than drugstore brands?
Not often! many drugstore brands are excellent, and the larger companies spend a lot of money on research and development of their products. Expensive products sometimes feel better when they are applied, b/c those companies spend more money on the vehicles that the products are in. Buying an expensive product feels “special” to some people, and that’s ok as long as the products do not irritate or make your skin break out. For me, I get to try many products, drugstore and expensive, and I use many drugstore brands that are both hypoallergenic and fragrance-free, as I have very sensitive skin! There are some sunscreens that are from France that are a bit more expensive, but they are worth every penny!
Many people like the idea of Botox, how does it work?
Botox is a great molecule. It acts to relax the muscle into which it is injected. All muscles in the body come in opposing pairs (biceps and triceps, for example), and the facial muscles are similar. Many people overwork one muscle in a pair from years of frowning, furrowing one’s brow in concentration, squinting etc and botox placed in the proper areas can work to restore the balance of muscles. An added benefit is that while the muscles are resting for the approximately 4 months that the botox effects last, they atrophy a bit, such that overtime the lines are permanently improved!
Many women suffer from stretch marks after childbirth, is it treatable?
Stretch marks are incredibly common among growing teens and pregnant women. new marks are often red and can be itchy, and there are great treatments to remove the redness – lasers and prescription topical retinoids (like retin-a), for example. Once stretch marks have faded to skin-color or paler, time will help fade them but there is currently no definitive treatment to remove the marks. Self-tanner helps to mask them, and waterproof makeup, such as dermablend, will cover them up for a day at the beach.
What advice can you give to teenagers with acne?
First of all, know that you are not alone! 90% of your peers are dealing with acne as well. Try one or two over-the-counter products that contain benzoyl peroxide and/or salicylic acid and use them for 4 weeks.If your acne doesn’t improve or worsens, ask a parent to take you to a dermatologist, because we have so many amazing acne treatments! Also, many acne treatments can dry out your skin, so make sure to moisturize with a non-comedogenic facial moisturizer. lastly, do not pick or try to pop your pimples – this can leave marks, scars and can make the acne worse!!
What other passions do you have besides skincare?
Hanging out with my family (husband and 2 kids), scuba diving, watching and playing many sports, Japanese food, and travel.
Who would you most like to be stuck in an elevator with?
Tom Selleck. or Viggo Mortensen
It was a pleasure to interview Dr Amy to find out more about her and her practise visit her website at: www.dramywechsler.com