Non-surgical skin resurfacing procedures such as laser skin resurfacing, dermabrasion, and chemical peels can make skin look younger and healthier by removing the damaged cells on the skin’s surface. Injectable treatments can diminish the appearance of skin imperfections that result from overactive facial muscles and deficiencies in skin volume. Non-surgical procedures can provide either subtle or dramatic benefits as the patient’s needs dictate.
Skin Resurfacing Treatments
Laser skin resurfacing can be used to tighten and renew the skin, and to treat fine lines, acne scarring, and blemishes. Laser treatments can also be used for treatment of spider veins and for some mole removal procedures. During the laser skin resurfacing procedure, the molecular bonds of the surface level skin cells are dissolved cell by cell. The laser is incredibly precise, allowing Dr. Smullen to treat only the abnormal or damaged skin cell layers without harming the untargeted cells. The new skin that emerges after a laser skin resurfacing is not only pristine and undamaged, but also tighter and richer in collagen, a naturally occurring substance that helps the skin to retain optimal levels of hydration. Any discomfort associated with the procedure can be diminished or eliminated with the use of a local anesthetic. The treatment area will be tender during the recovery process. The patient should expect some temporary discoloration on the treated skin. Mild swelling may also occur after treatment. For more extensive improvements to the skin’s appearance, Dr. Smullen may recommend that patients undergo more than one laser skin resurfacing treatment or combine the procedure with another skin enhancing treatment such as a light chemical peel.
Dermabrasion is a very effective way to reduce the appearance of wrinkles, abnormal skin pigmentation, and sun damage on the skin. It is also used to address a variety of facial scars that have resulted from injury, acne, or illness. In a dermabrasion treatment, Dr. Smullen carefully scrapes or sands away imperfections in the skin using a specially designed high speed rotating brush. Prior to treatment, the target area is treated with a local anesthetic to reduce or eliminate discomfort. Dr. Smullen also often administers a mild sedative to the patient to help control any pain or anxiety that they might experience during the course of the treatment. Dermabrasion requires a slightly longer recovery time in comparison to milder forms of treatment such as laser skin resurfacing. Dermabrasion can, however, often achieve much more dramatic improvements to the appearance of aged and damaged skin than milder treatments. The most common risk associated with dermabrasion is a permanent darkening or lightening of the skin. Dr. Smullen will examine your skin and discuss with you the benefits and risks of the procedure.
Not all chemical peels are created equal in terms of formula strength, results achieved, and recovery time involved. There are three basic types of chemical peel formulas – light, medium, and deep. Below are a few general characteristics of each to assist you in making a more informed decision about undergoing a chemical peel. Contact Dr. Smullen for a complete and confidential patient consultation.
Light Chemical Peels
A light chemical peel can control acne, reduce skin dryness, diminish the appearance of fine wrinkles and sun damage, and even out skin discolorations. Light chemical peel formulas are usually composed of alpha hydroxy acids. Alpha hydroxy acids are derived from plant sources such as sugar cane, citrus fruits, apples, pears, grapes, and tomatoes. Alpha hydroxy acid is also produced during the milk fermentation process, or it may be synthesized. Gentle on sensitive skin, light chemical peels are also referred to as “lunch hour” peels because they require very little recovery time. During the 10 to 15 minute light chemical peel procedure, a slight stinging sensation is usually the only discomfort patients experience. Some redness and skin irritation may linger for a day or two after the procedure, but many people feel comfortable returning to work the same day after undergoing treatment.
Medium Chemical Peels
Medium chemical peel formulas are based on trichloroacetic acid. When administered by a qualified and experienced cosmetic physician such as Dr. Smullen, the trichloroacetic acid solution safely penetrates more deeply into the skin than the alpha hydroxy acid formulas used for light chemical peels. This provides smoothing of deeper wrinkles and the correction of more pronounced blemishes and pigmentation problems. Prior to administering a medium chemical peel, Dr. Smullen often recommends that the targeted skin be treated with Retin-A® and an alpha hydroxy acid formula such as glycolic acid. These chemicals slough away superficial dead skin cells, which stimulates new skin growth and quicker skin healing prior to the medium chemical peel procedure. Patients with darker skin are advised to use a temporary bleaching agent before and after a medium peel to decrease the likelihood of developing blotchy patches after the treatment.
Deep Chemical Peels
Deep chemical peels are performed with the chemical phenol. As the name of the treatment suggests, deep chemical peel formulas penetrate more deeply into the skin than light or medium chemical peels and create the most striking results. Phenol peels are used to correct coarse, deep wrinkles, remove pre-cancerous growths, and reduce or eliminate the appearance of prominent skin blotches that result from age or sun damage. The procedure can permanently affect pigmentation production in the facial skin. After a deep chemical peel, the treated skin will never tan, so sunscreen is recommended to prevent uneven tanning between treated and untreated areas. Also, freckles are permanently removed by the treatment. The deep chemical peel procedure is not recommended for patients with dark skin as it often results in a permanent skin lightening. A deep chemical peel takes approximately one to two hours to complete, and the treatment usually requires one to two weeks of time away from work to complete your initial recovery. A complete recovery will take several months, but the benefits of the procedure can last up to 20 years.
BOTOX® Cosmetic is the most popular treatment for the appearance of glabellar lines. These are the wrinkles that occur on the skin between the eyebrows. BOTOX® Cosmetic is also a very popular treatment for wrinkles and lines that appear on the forehead and at the corners of the mouth. The brow muscles play a major role in the expression of negative emotions. When you are angry, nervous, or upset, often your brow involuntarily furrows. Over time, the creases in the skin that are caused by furrowing may become permanent. BOTOX® Cosmetic injections relax the muscles underlying the brow, which diminishes or erases the appearance of lines and wrinkles. The beneficial results of a BOTOX® treatment typically last four to six months.
One commonly held myth about BOTOX® Cosmetic is that a person cannot produce natural facial expressions after undergoing treatment. In most instances, this is simply not the case. After your BOTOX® treatments, you will still be able to frown or register surprise, but because the muscle activity in the brows has been reduced, you will be able to do so without wrinkling and possibly damaging the skin on the brow.
Restylane® and collagen injections can provide aesthetic enhancement and facial rejuvenation in many ways. These injections can be used to augment the lips for a fuller, more seductive pout. These treatments can also improve the texture of the skin by enhancing the strength and volume of the skin’s underlying structure. Restylane® and collagen injections can improve sunken areas of the face, decrease the appearance of deep facial wrinkles and furrows, and even minimize certain types of facial scarring. Enhancement procedures using injectables can also be used to subtly define the cheekbones, though for more dramatic and permanent results cheek implants might better fit your aesthetic needs. Restylane® and collagen do not provide permanent cosmetic alteration. Your body will metabolize the injected material over the course of several months to a year, so repeat treatments are recommended to maintain results.
Sean Smullen, MD
103 Progress Drive
Doylestown, PA 18901