Skin Resurfacing: Chemical peels, Dermabrasion, and Laser
What was the secret of Cleopatra’s smooth and clear skin? It was more than the daily milk baths that she took. It was actually the sour milk that was in the bath. Sour milk has lactic acid, which is now used as one of the chemicals for peeling facial skin. It removes the top layer of skin and with it the brown pigments, fine wrinkles, and skin irregularities.
Methods for Skin Resurfing
There are many methods available for skin resurfacing. Chemical peels denature cells in the top layer of skin, while dermabrasion abrades them away. Laser, which is the latest technique, removes superficial skin by evaporating it. Each one of these techniques has advantages and disadvantages. Depending on your needs your plastic surgeon will recommend the best option for you.
Chemical peels vary depending on the type of solution used. All of them dissolve the top layer of skin by a chemical reaction. Phenol, which is one of the oldest solutions used, is very effective in removing moderately deep wrinkles. It has the potential disadvantage of bleaching the skin and causing heart rate irregularities if patient is not adequately monitored. TCA, or Trichloroacidic acid, is a weaker acid, which is good for removing finer wrinkles. Its strength can be adjusted by changing its concentration. Fruit acids or hydroxy acids, such as Glycolic and lactic acid are generally weaker acids derived from the naturally available fruit acids. Hydroxy peels when done in a very light fashion are called micro-peels.
Dermabrasion is achieved by sanding the skin with a power sander. Because it can remove deep layers of skin, it was traditionally used for the removal of acne scars. Currently, laser can also be used for acne scar removal. Sanding the top layer of skin by dermabrasion takes skill and dexterity. Micro-dermabrasion is a very weak method of abrading the skin by blasting it with sand-like crystals.
Laser energy is the latest tool used for skin resurfacing. It literally evaporates the top layer of skin. Both CO2 and Erbium lasers sources are used; although CO2 is stronger. Ultrapulse CO2 laser uses a computer to deliver a very high-energy laser pulse over a very short time. This evaporates the superficial skin cells without damaging adjacent skin collagen. This innovation reduces the risk of scaring Therefore; it makes Laser in some ways a safer method compared to other techniques. Scientific research has also shown that laser energy causes shrinkage or tightening of skin. This helps people with facial aging to be able to postpone having facelift.
Skin resurfacing via any of the mentioned techniques removes the top layer of skin leaving behind a raw surface. It takes approximately ten days for new skin to grow back. During this time your surgeon will recommend different regiments for skin healing. You should know that this is a time intensive period for you and your doctor. After new skin has grown back, your skin will be of a different tone and color for a period of approximately six to eight weeks. During this stage, some people apply special make-up to cover up the “pinkish” skin. You should also avoid direct sun for there are risks of developing darker skin (hyperpigmentation). There is also risk of the color changes becoming permanent. This may depend on your skin type and also how and if your surgeon has pre-treated your skin with proper medications.
After completely healed you can truly benefit by having a beautiful and clear skin that is smooth and void of fine wrinkles.
Skin resurfacing has certain potential risks and complications. There is a risk of removing too much skin, which may cause scarring. A surgeon with experience and caution can lesson this risk for you. Skin resurfacing can stimulate a flare-up of Herpes Zoster virus or “cold soars”. Medications are available to help prevent this. There is also a chance of developing skin infections during your healing phase, which could be treated with antibiotics.
Finally, all methods of skin resurfacing do help lessen wrinkles, skin blemishes, or acne scars, but they do not completely remove them. Therefore, you should have realistic expectations and should follow your doctor’s instructions very thoroughly.
During your consultation Dr. Younai will review your treatment options for skin resurfacing, including pros and cons of each procedure, potential risks and complications, recovery course, pre and post operative instructions, and esthetic outcomes. There are also many before-and-after pictures and high resolution images of skin resurfacing available in our photo gallery.
Los Angeles famous Dr. Younai is a board certified plastic surgeon who receives patients at the California Center for Plastic Surgery from the Northern as well as the Southern California region. Some of these cities include Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Hollywood, Burbank, Sherman Oaks, Encino, Calabasas, Woodland Hills, Thousand Oaks, Westlake Village, Pasadena, Glendale, Valencia, Palmdale, Fresno, and Oxnard.