Skin resurfacing employs a variety of techniques to change the surface texture and appearance of the skin. Common skin resurfacing techniques include chemical peels, dermabrasion, and laser resurfacing.
Skin resurfacing procedures may be performed for cosmetic reasons, such as diminishing the appearance of wrinkles around the mouth or eyes. They may also be used as a medical treatment, such as removing large numbers of certain precancerous lesions called actinic keratoses. Physicians sometimes combine techniques, using dermabrasion or laser resurfacing on some areas of the face, while performing a chemical peel on other areas.
As the popularity of skin resurfacing techniques has increased, many unqualified or inexperienced providers have entered the field. Patients should choose their provider with the same degree of care they take for any other medical procedure. Complications of skin resurfacing techniques can be serious, including severe infection and scarring.
Patient's with active herpesvirus infections are not good candidates for resurfacing procedures. Persons who tend to scar easily may also experience poor results. Patients who have recently used the oral acne medication isotretinoin (Accutane) may be at higher risk of scarring following skin resurfacing.
Within a day or so following a superficial peel, the skin will turn faint pink or brown. Over the next few days, dead skin will peel away. Patients will be instructed to wash their skin frequently with a mild cleanser and cool water, then apply an ointment to the skin to keep it moist. After a medium-depth peel, the skin turns deep red or brown, and crusts may form. Care is similar to that following a superficial peel. Redness may persist for a week or more. Deep-peeled skin will turn brown and crusty. There may also be swelling and some oozing of fluid. Frequent washing and ointments are favored over dressings. The skin typically heals in about two weeks, but redness may persist.
Richard H. Camer, The Gale Group Inc., Gale, Detroit,