The following is a presentation to explain skin resurfacing procedures, which describes how you can best prepare for your procedure, how it may be performed, and your recovery process along with before and after photos of some of our patients. An interesting question and answer section can also be viewed. This presentation is not intended to take the place of a physician’s consultation.
Skin resurfacing refers to techniques to remove damaged upper layers of skin, thereby allowing the healthy, deeper layers to grow with less apparent damage. These procedures generally create brighter skin with fewer wrinkles, smaller pores and better texture. Acne and/or scarring from acne can sometimes be improved as well. The three principal categories of resurfacing are: chemical peels, dermabrasion and laser treatments.
A chemical peel involves the application of chemical solutions to remove damaged upper layers of skin. The solution is applied to the skin for a brief period of time, after which a neutralizing solution is generally applied. Varying strengths of TCA (Trichloroacetic acid) and Phenol are the most common peeling agents. For less damaged skin and maintenance, numerous agents, such as glycolic acid, can be used to provide a lighter treatment. These are sometimes called “quick fixes” or a “lunchtime” peel.
Dermabrasion & Hydrodermabrasion
Today, dermabrasion generally refers to the use of brushes or diamond embedded tips, to remove the damaged layers of skin. Recently, a less invasive technique called hydrodermabrasion has become popular. This procedure removes the outer layers of skin with diamond embedded tips and simultaneously cools the skin with chilled saline resulting in a cleaner wound and faster recovery compared to previous dermabrasion techniques.
Laser technology is used in medicine to treat a variety of skin problems. Changing the material used in the laser will alter the tissues effected by the laser energy. The carbon dioxide (CO2) and Erbium® lasers can be used to treat damaged skin. The energy emitted from the laser is absorbed by the skin cells. By adjusting the energy level and the treatment time, the depth of skin treated can be altered (in much the same way that the strength of chemical peeling agents can be varied). The laser is carefully passed back and forth over the skin until a level is reached that will reduce or eliminate wrinkles and/or scars. Protective creams or ointments will be applied to treat the newly resurfaced skin. In some cases bandages may also be applied.
Preparing for treatment.
The initial consultation with your physician is critical, as not all patients are appropriate candidates for resurfacing. Your physician will analyze your skin type (color, oiliness, thickness, sensitivity…), the amount of sun damage, presence of acne and/or scarring and presence of pre-cancerous/cancerous lesions. Be prepared to provide your complete medical history and inform your surgeon of any vitamins or medications (including over-the-counter) that you are taking. Certain medical conditions might make a skin resurfacing procedure inappropriate; such as pregnancy, recent use of Accutane, diffuse acne, liver disease, etc.
If deemed a good candidate, skin preparation is paramount to optimizing the results. Frequently, Retinoic acid and a bleaching agent are used to prepare the skin. Coordination with an experienced aesthetician is highly recommended. It can often take six weeks to prepare the skin for resurfacing.
What to expect post treatment.
Following a resurfacing procedure you will go through three healing phases. The immediate post-treatment period lasts approximately seven to ten days and involves local wound care to allow the deeper layers of skin to heal. Once this occurs your skin will appear pink and healthy, leading to the second phase. During this phase, avoidance of sun and/or ultraviolet light exposure is critical, as this “new” skin is extremely sensitive. This healing and remodeling period lasts approximately six to twelve weeks. After that you will enter into the final phase during which you should develop a maintenance program to provide long term skin care. Here again, close coordination between patient, physician and aesthetician is extremely beneficial.
Your final results can take several months to be seen. They should be long lasting, but not permanent. Natural facial movements and aging will eventually cause expression lines to reappear. Skin resurfacing treatments can often be repeated.