There’s a fair amount to know about chemical peels and dermabrasion as a form of non-invasive cosmetic skin rejuvenation procedure for a healthier, younger appearance. Read the information below to learn what Denver cosmetic surgeon, Randolph C. Robinson, MD, DDS, FAACS, can do for you:
The primary purpose of chemical peels and dermabrasions is to remove irregularities, often due to fine wrinkles or acne or chicken pox scars in the outer layers of the skin.
Chemical peels and dermabrasion can also treat age spots and sun-damaged areas. The type of chemical used depends on the depth of penetration that is needed. The indication for dermabrasion depends on the type of skin irregularity and the location. Lasers can also be used for these same conditions with varying results.
Learn if a chemical peel is right for you. Schedule a free cosmetic consultation at Robinson Cosmetic Surgery today:
Different Types of Peeling Solutions Available
The most common chemical used now is a fruit acid derivative called glycolic acid, from the category of alpha hydroxy acids. It is a very light peeling acid and is used in many cosmetic lines in low concentrations. But it is possible to use up to a 70% solution to remove the outer dead skin layer, improving the clarity and tightness of the skin. These peels are performed without resultant redness, oozing, and significant pain so it is not necessary to take time away from activities or work. These peels are performed in conjunction with a micro-peel which uses a blade to help remove the outer layer of dead skin.
Another chemical that is used is called TCA, which stands for trichloroacetic acid. It is used in solution concentrations of 25% to 50% and is best for treating moderate wrinkles and sun-damaged skin. This particular type of chemical peel will cause some redness and oozing and, therefore, will require a period of convalescence.
The third chemical that may be used is called phenol and is used for moderate to severe wrinkling and scarring, or when a more dramatic change is required in tightening the face. Phenol is the ‘gold standard’ by which other chemical peels and resurfacing procedures are compared. After it is applied, most patients experience swelling and crusting, which lasts for approximately seven days, and then redness of the skin for up to two to three months. The results, however, are usually profound.
Dermabrasion is a procedure whereby the outer layer of skin is removed through an abrasive technique using a diamond wheel after the skin is temporarily frozen. This is especially good for correcting contour irregularities related to scarring from acne or trauma. Dermabrasion will also result in swelling, oozing, and redness for approximately two months.
All the procedures, except for the glycolic acid peels, require an IV sedation and post-operative antiviral medications. After the new skin returns in seven days, make-up can then be applied. Most patients, however, will experience continued redness and sun sensitivity requiring at least a 20 SPF block sunscreen, plus a wide-brimmed hat and/or scarf.
The typical post-operative course for glycolic peels is unremarkable. Some patients experience a little bit of flakiness to the skin, and possibly a small acne eruption to a limited degree which usually resolves in two weeks. Your skin may experience extra dryness, in which case, you will probably be instructed to decrease the frequency of the application of the home product.
The post-operative course for the stronger chemical peels and the dermabrasion is typically the same. Patients experience swelling that may be moderate to severe, but usually it begins to resolve within the first 24 to 48 hours. During this initial period, patients will experience a moderate amount of pain which will require narcotic pain relievers.
There will be oozing from the treated areas, as well as crusting that forms. Patients must follow the postoperative instructions regarding showers and application of ointment to ensure the crusting does not form into scabs because scab formation can increase the incidence of scarring.
After about seven days, new skin begins to cover the treated area, and the skin is pink to red and thin. At this point, make-up can be applied. Usually the area of treatment is very red and begins to fade during the second week, but some redness, similar to that of a severe sunburn, may last up to three months.
During this initial period, the skin will be extra-sensitive to sunshine and reflected sunlight. Therefore, it is very important to follow the instructions regarding both the application of sunblock, as well as bleaching cream. Patients will notice that during this recovery period, there may be some changes in the skin tone, with some variation throughout the areas of the face. This uneven skin tone usually will harmonize by the second to third month.
Patients also notice that with blushing or exertion, the face will become red more easily. This reddening, however, seems to resolve with time as well. Typically, these treatments will lighten the skin tone slightly.
Nausea can occur after surgery, sometimes caused by the anesthetics and strong pain relief medicines and may be reduced by preceding each pain pill with a small amount of food (e.g. soda crackers or foods that you can see through; initially avoid dairy products). On the first post-operative day, if you don’t feel like eating, don’t force yourself to eat. Take the pain pill with repeated sips of clear liquids that you can tolerate, e.g. ‘flat’ 7-Up, ginger ale, water, apple juice, etc. Call our office if you do not feel better, or if repeated vomiting is a problem.
Complications of chemical peels and dermabrasion include scarring, darkening of the skin tone in certain areas, disharmony of the skin tone, fever blister outbreaks, prolonged redness, prolonged swelling, and increased fine hair formation. With dermabrasion, residual contour deformities can occur.
Although these complications are rare, patients should be aware of them. Moreover, patients should not expect these procedures to remove all scarring or wrinkles in the face. Re-treatment may be necessary.
- Do not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before surgery (or as your anesthesiologist may direct). If you are likely to be nauseated, consult with your surgeon about medications you can take before surgery.
- Arrange for someone to be with you for the first 24 hours.
- Wear loose, comfortable clothing that is easy to put on.
- Do not take any aspirin, ibuprofen, blood-thinning medications, or vitamin E two weeks before surgery, unless otherwise directed by your surgeon.
- If you color your hair, make sure that this process is done at least one week prior to surgery. During the first month after surgery, it is best to avoid harsh dyes around the treated areas.
- For best healing and general well-being, stop smoking as soon as possible.
- Remove the bandage from the face after 24 to 48 hours, as instructed by the surgeon.
- Take six showers per day, allowing the mechanical action of the water to remove any crusting on the face.
- Avoid pulling or picking at any scabbing areas, as this may result in increased scarring.
- Apply a moderate layer of Vaseline, Crisco, or other ointment to the treated areas following each shower. This layer helps to keep any residual crusting soft and protects the treated skin. The cycles of showers and application of ointment should be continued for up to seven days, until new skin formation is noted by your doctor.
- Take anti-nausea medication, as prescribed, for nausea and vomiting.
- Avoid strenuous activity or lifting anything heavier than ten pounds for two weeks. Keep head elevated on at least two pillows while sleeping for two weeks.
- Avoid glycolic acid products or Retin-A until directed by your doctor.
- Apply bleaching cream, as indicated, beginning the third or fourth week after treatment.
- IMPORTANT: Avoid direct and reflective sun exposure for the first six months following treatment and apply a sunblock daily of at least a 20 SPF. Also wear a broad brimmed hat and/or scarf. Sunlight may cause permanent pigmentation changes and irregular color patterns throughout the face.
- Take medications as directed.
Free Skin Rejuvenation Consultation
For people living in Denver, Colorado, looking for a healthier, younger appearance, there is a range of skin rejuvenation procedures provided by Denver Cosmetic Surgeon, Dr. Randy Robinson, that could be the answer. Call our office to schedule a free cosmetic consultation.