Deeper chemical peels and dermabrasion are procedures best suited for individuals who have acne scars, moderate to severe sun damage or deeper imperfections of the skin. Your skin-resurfacing procedure will likely be performed in your doctor’s office or an outpatient center. However, for extensive or multiple procedures, Dr. Lesavoy may discuss brief hospitalization as another option.
For deeper chemical peels or dermabrasion, sedation may be used before and during the procedure to keep you relaxed and comfortable.
Chemical peel involves the application of a chemical solution to either the entire face or to specific areas — such as the regions around the eyes and mouth. It works by removing the damaged outer layers of skin, allowing a new, healthier-looking layer to emerge. The types of chemical peels most commonly used for medium to deep treatment are:
Tricholoroacetic acid (TCA) peel – Often used for treating blemishes, pigment changes and wrinkles, this type of peel can be used on any part of the body. TCA is often recommended for people with darker complexions because TCA has less of a bleaching effect on the skin than stronger peeling solutions.
Phenol Peel – The strongest of the chemical peels, phenol is used for skin that is particularly rough, blotchy or sun-damaged. Phenol helps reduce the appearance of deeper wrinkles, especially the vertical lines that often form around the mouth.
Dermabrasion is a technique that uses a high-speed rotary wheel to resurface the skin by removing its upper layers. This resurfacing method is most often used for the treatment of facial scars, such as those caused by acne. The technique can be applied to either a small area or to the entire face. Often, it is used to help reduce the appearance of vertical lines and wrinkles around the mouth.
Another resurfacing technique uses a laser to vaporize the skin’s outer layers. Like other resurfacing methods, the laser is effective in treating wrinkles, blotchiness or age spots, and scars from acne or other causes. Your surgeon can help you determine which resurfacing treatment is the best choice for you.
If you are having a chemical peel or dermabrasion, your plastic surgeon will provide you with specific instructions for the days immediately before and after your treatment. A number of points may be covered, including:
avoiding certain medications that may complicate recovery
stopping smoking for a period of time before and after your treatment
following a program to prepare the skin. (For example, before a chemical peel or, less often, dermabrasion, you may be instructed to apply a pre-treatment cream or gel to your skin for a few weeks. You may also be given certain oral medications that you should begin taking prior to your treatment.)
After a deeper chemical peel or dermabrasion, your treated skin will appear red and swollen. Any discomfort you may feel can be relieved by medication prescribed by your surgeon. The affected area will be covered with petroleum jelly or other protective ointment. In some cases, waterproof adhesive tape or a bandage may be applied.
The speed of your healing after a chemical peel or dermabrasion will depend upon the extent of your procedure. However, you can expect that your recovery will follow this general time line:
The first few weeks
Your new skin will begin to form and may be bright pink or red. The color is a positive sign that the healing process is progressing.
You may apply makeup (after two weeks) to minimize the redness as your face continues to heal
You may return to work and gradually resume your normal activities.
After four week
You may resume exercise or more strenuous activity (bending and lifting)
You may resume your skin-care routine as your physician directs.
It’s important to remember that the redness associated with dermabrasion or deeper chemical peels will fade gradually. Although the color will diminish with every passing week, some pinkness may remain for up to six months.
Following your resurfacing procedure, it’s important to protect your skin from the sun until all the pinkness is gone. If you must be in the sun, apply a strong sunblock with an SPF or 30 or higher and shade your face with a wide-brimmed hat. This is particularly important if you have had a phenol peel, which eliminates your skin’s ability to tan. If the skin around your eyes has been treated you should wear good-quality sunglasses with UVA/UVB filters when outdoors.
It may take several months to fully appreciate your new look after a deep chemical peel or dermabrasion. However, the improvement you’ll notice can be dramatic, long-lasting and well worth the wait.
You can help to maintain your fresher appearance by using sun protection and following a skin-care regimen recommended by your surgeon.
Your face will continue to age in the months and years following your treatment. It’s important to understand that no skin-resurfacing treatment can eliminate excess fat or sagging skin on the face or neck. If you would like to consider facelift surgery for a tighter, smoother facial contour, your plastic surgeon can help you decide if this procedure is right for you.
After a deep chemical peel or dermabrasion, you will return to your plastic surgeon’s office for post-treatment follow-up visits so that your healing and progress can be evaluated.