The ageing face undergoes a number of changes, each contributing to the aged look. These changes include wrinkles, brown spots, pigment changes and sun-damaged areas.
Skin resurfacing is a process that removes the top layer of the skin, encouraging the remaining skin to produce a new, fresh, tighter top layer with less age blemishes.
How is resurfacing performed?
There are a number of methods possible for resurfacing, including peels, dermabrasion, Intense Pulsed Light therapy (IPL), and Laser.
What are chemical peels?
Peels are solutions that are applied to the skin for a short period of time, before being neutralised or removed. The most commonly used agents include retinoids, glycolic acid, beta hydroxy acid, or trichloroacetic acid (TCA).
The depth of peel required (light, medium or deep) will depend on the blemishes or wrinkles present, and multiple sessions may be required to achieve your goals and maintain them.
A light peel requires little recovery time, whereas a deep peel can result in crusting of the skin which can take up to a week to heal. Peels can also result in darkening or lightening of skin colour, wound infections, and even scarring. It is also very important to stay out of the sun during the treatment.
Overall, peels are a very common procedure and generally considered a safe form of treatment.
What is Dermabrasion?
Dermabrasion uses a hand-held tool to essentially 'rub away' the top layer of skin, and is especially useful for upper lip wrinkles. Complications are similar to those of peels (above), although skin colour changes are less of a problem. Redness and scabbing can persist for up to 10 days or more.
Microdermabrasion uses very tiny particles to 'blast away' the very top layer of skin, giving an effect like a light peel. The skin may be slightly reddened for a few hours after the procedure.
What is Laser resurfacing?
Lasers essentially work by strengthening light and concentrating it into a single powerful beam. This beam can be controlled to precisely remove thin layers of skin, improving wrinkles and blemishes, and producing a tighter more youthful skin.
Complications are similar to those of peels and dermabrasion, which include skin colour changes, scarring and infections. The average time for healing after Laser resurfacing is about a week, although redness and/or blisters can last longer or shorter, depending on the depth of resurfacing needed.
What is Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) therapy?
Whilst IPL uses concentrated light, it is different from Lasers in that it uses a broader spectrum of light, and generally causes less tissue damage. Redness therefore tends to settle faster and healing is quicker, although changes in skin colour can still occur with IPL. A series of treatments is usually needed to see the final results.
So which procedure should I have?
All people are different, and so no one procedure is right for everybody. Your surgeon will be able to discuss the options with you, tailoring the correct procedure to your skin type and needs. Whichever procedure you have, be aware that smoking can worsen the outcome and you should stay out of the sun according to your specialists' instructions.
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Many procedures involving skin resurfacing can result in unfavourable scarring, wound infection, or bleeding. This list of risks is not exhaustive, and you should discuss possible complications with your specialist. Whilst these risks will seem very worrysome, and indeed can be serious, it should also be borne in mind that many people have no postoperative problems whatsoever.
The information provided is as a guide only and you should discuss matters fully with your specialist before deciding if this is the right procedure for you. Please also read our disclaimer