You use an SPF 15 moisturizer, clean your face with a mild cleanser and use night creams to keep your skin supple. Nevertheless, you’ve started to see a few wrinkles, maybe a spot or two — the signs of skin damage.
You’ve undoubtedly seen the leathery skin of people who have spent their lives working outdoors. They have skin damage, which produces splotches, uneven skin tone, wrinkles, spots or scarring. Those can make anyone look older than they are. And even if you don’t work outdoors, you’re vulnerable.
What causes skin damage?
Exposure to the sun causes the most damage. But there are other culprits that can cause skin damage, too, including your diet and toxins in the environment.
Damage from the sun and other factors can show up by the time we are in our teens. If the damage is severe enough to cause skin lesions, then a trip to a dermatologist for an exam, and possibly a biopsy, is in order to make sure the lesions aren’t cancerous.
How can I avoid it?
It’s not possible to avoid damage completely, unless you stay indoors 100% of the time – and who wants to do that? Skin damage is cumulative over your lifetime, and the extent of damage depends based on how often you’re exposed to the elements. The best defense is to wear sunscreen, hats and cover-up clothing to keep the sun off your skin.
How can I reverse it?
Before damage from the elements can cause your skin to look noticeably older, get to work countering it. Not with ineffective lotions and creams, but with chemical peels done by a licensed and certified plastic surgeon.
What is a chemical peel?
A chemical peel is an outpatient procedure that is done in the doctor’s office. It’s usually done on the face, but it can also improve the skin on your neck and hands. A chemical solution is applied to remove the damaged outer layers of your skin by inducing a controlled injury to the skin. Then the damaged skin exfoliates and eventually peels off.
Are there different kinds of chemical peels?
Yes. There are light, medium and deep chemical peels. Here are the differences:
- A light chemical peel removes just the outer layer of skin in a light exfoliation that uses milder chemicals than used for deeper peels. It might be appropriate if you have minimal damage, such as uneven pigmentation, dryness, acne or fine wrinkling.
- A medium chemical peel uses chemicals that will remove skin cells from the outer layer of skin and the upper middle layer of skin. It can address acne scars, deeper wrinkles and uneven skin color.
- A deep chemical peel uses chemicals that penetrate down to the lower dermal layer of your skin. It can be used for skin that’s damaged by the sun, scarred, appears blotchy or has pre-cancerous growths. To prepare your skin for the procedure and to speed the healing process, you may have to follow some kind of pretreatment regimen for up to eight weeks.
Can a chemical peel address sagging skin?
No, chemical peels are not recommended for sagging skin, bulges or severe wrinkles. Those conditions may require other surgical procedures, including laser resurfacing, a facelift, brow lift, eyelid lift or soft tissue filler (collagen or fat). Ask your surgeon to help you determine the most effective treatment for you.
How do I know if I’m a good candidate for a chemical peel?
If you have fair skin and light hair, you may be a better candidate than someone with darker skin, although darker-skinned patients may have good results, too, depending on what is being treated.
What is the after-care regimen after a chemical peel?
Following your procedure, you will have a reaction that’s similar to sunburn: You will have peeling skin and redness, then scaling for up to seven days. With medium and deep chemical peels, you may have blisters that peel off after one to two weeks. You may need to bandage the parts of the skin that were treated for several days, and you will need to stay out of the sun for several months.
What results can I expect after a chemical peel?
The layers of skin below the damaged layers will be exposed. The new skin is usually smoother and less wrinkled than the old skin, so you’ll have a more youthful, vibrant look.