The ravages of time and the sun
Although it is not possible to turn back the hands of time, its effects can be dramatically slowed down and improved with the arsenal of procedures and techniques available to your dermatologic surgeon.
The natural aging process generally produces lines and wrinkles, age spots, splotches and pigmentation problems, broken capillaries, dull skin texture and color, and other skin flaws. Also, a once-attractive mole or birthmark may change into an unattractive protrusion, or a once unnoticeable scar may become more apparent when wrinkles form around it.
Sun damage compounds the aging process. Ultraviolet light from the sun penetrates not only the outer layer of skin but also those layers underneath which fortify the skin and lend it resilience.
Anti-aging creams and topical products are usually used to treat the milder symptoms of aging such as damage to the skin's uppermost layers.
For more advanced signs of aging and sun-damage, your dermatologic surgeon will choose the surgical method or combination of methods best suited to your individual skin condition. Following are the common categories of treatment to refine your appearance and make your skin look and feel healthy and attractive.
Chemical peels are beneficial in the treatment of wrinkles, skin discoloration and age spots as well as dull skin texture and mild acne scars. The dermatologic surgeon applies a customized chemical solution to the skin in a controlled manner to remove outer layers of aged and sun-damaged skin. After healing, new skin is generated that is noticeably smoother and fresher in appearance. A variety of peeling agents can be used to produce light, medium or deep chemical peels, depending on the amount of skin damage present.
A facelift is a well-known procedure to remove sagging and redundant skin, particularly from the lower third of the face and under the chin. Some dermatologic surgeons now perform both facelifts and eyelid surgery as in-office procedures under local anesthesia.
Dermabrasion is a traditional technique in which a special instrument removes or abrades the upper layers of the skin and smoothes out irregularities in the skin surface. Although usually performed to correct scarring, some physicians perform dermabrasion for substantial sun damage and pigmentation problems.
Soft-tissue fillers involves injecting a filling substance under the skin. It is used to "plump up" or contour and correct wrinkles, furrows and hollows in the face. Filling substances include bovine collagen and related materials, autologous fat (meaning fat removed from another part of the patient's body and injected into a wrinkle, skin depression or fold in a procedure often called microlipoinjection) and polymer implants.
Botulinum toxin type A is a muscle blockade that is injected in very tiny amounts into specific muscles to treat and improve lines, wrinkles and furrows associated with facial expression. It also is used to immobilize the muscle bands sometimes visible on the neck. Its use for cosmetic purposes and for eyebrow positioning is an unapproved – or "off-label" – use of an FDA-cleared drug.
Laser resurfacing uses the newest generation of the carbon dioxide and erbium YAG lasers to vaporize the undesired skin tissue one layer at a time, revealing fresh skin underneath. The laser's highly focused beam enables the dermatologic surgeon to gently and precisely remove the skin's surface with a very low risk of complications in properly selected patients.
Non-ablative resurfacing has several of the benefits of traditional laser resurfacing without wounding the top layers of the skin, providing rapid postoperative healing. These relatively new treatment options to rejuvenate aging and sun-damaged facial skin employ non-ablative laser and intense pulsed light technologies as well as electrosurgical resurfacing using "cold" (low temperature) electrical energy. This latter technique allows rapid healing when used to treat wrinkles or scars.
Microdermabrasion uses tiny particles that pass through a vacuum tube to gently scrape away the aging skin and stimulate new cell growth. Because of the superficial nature of this technique, patients with mild to moderate skin damage and wrinkles are the best candidates, and multiple treatments are usually required to achieve subtle results.
For more information on skin conditions and treatments along with a list of ASDS members in your state, please visit the Find a Dermatologic surgeon section of our website.