Revealing the Beauty Within: Dermabrasion and Chemical Peels

Revealing the Beauty Within: Dermabrasion and Chemical Peels
Revealing the Beauty Within: Dermabrasion and Chemical Peels

Most of us dream of recapturing the essence of youth and returning to the dewy freshness that's faded with the years due to hours on the beach, long runs in the summer, that pesky smoking habit in college, and exposure to other environmental toxins. Every line tells a story and sometimes we don't want those stories broadcast.

While face, brow and neck lifts can transform a face into a more youthful version of itself, there are other options to enhance the look and feel of our skin-- which is thankfully much less expensive and non-invasive. Awesome.

Dermabrasion, dermplaning, dermblading- are all terms for using a small sharp object or rough surface to remove surface acne scars, fine wrinkles and other skin imperfections.

An alternative, one with which I have a LOT of experience, is any one of a variety of chemical peels (glycolic, salicylic, TCA). Peels can successfully reduce the size of pores and the appearance of wrinkles and scars. There are varying levels of intensity, based on the type and concentration of acid used, and how long it is left on the skin.

In addition to reversing skin damage, both can be used proactively to slow the first signs of aging - which is wonderful.

Yet in both treatments, it is paramount that you trust your skin to professionals because each requires: a) expert evaluation to determine whether your skin type will yield optimal results, and b) precision in execution of the treatment.

In light of the many people performing these treatments, and the potential for lasting skin damage, I want to share a few keys to success:

1) Start by consulting with a board-certified MD- a plastic surgeon specializing in these procedures.

2) Inquire about the details.

  • Ask to have a patch tested on a part of your skin, other than your face. Skin tone and sensitivity are determining factors in your overall success. For example, chemical peels can have a bleaching effect, so if you have an olive complexion, make sure you are comfortable with a test section first.
  • Ask how long the full process takes- this is not limited to time in the doctor’s office. Your face will be sensitive, red, extremely sun-sensitive and shedding dead layers for days, and likely weeks (depending on the potency of the acid, for example).
  • With those answers, plan your treatment accordingly- if it’s the middle of summer and you have a beach vacation planned, don’t try to squeeze these treatments in before. Sometime in the fall--or when you’ll be ensconced in shade--is ideal.

3) Follow the directions of the doctor, nurse and your care team.

  • Your skin will be extremely sensitive and you must care for it tenderly in these days and weeks post treatment.
  • Going in the sun at this point could multiply the sun damage because you're working with a new, gentle layer of skin right now.
  • This is not the time to be careless with your skin care. (That may be what landed you in this situation in the first place. Just sayin’.) If you’ve invested the time in research as well as the money, don't stop short after you leave the doctor's office.
  • If there are bandages, tend to them per the doctor's instructions. If there are creams to apply, do so. Make sure that you are not only the ideal patient, but that you are your own personal care-giver.

While we were not all born with the gift of beautiful skin, with just a little time and care plus a lot of expertise, the opportunity for a new, fresh face isn’t just a dream.

About the Author

Mary Cunningham is a health and wellness writer and co-founder of the lifestyle site, Girl Around Town and travels regularly between New York, Austin and Houston. She loves speaking about the beauty we have inside and how to do the inner work to let that beauty radiate. Prior to leaving the corporate world to start her own company, Mary worked at the GRAMMYs in Los Angeles, before moving to Manhattan, where she joined Nokia's Digital Music Department.