The cumulative effects of the sun, age, and smoking make the skin appear wrinkled and thin. In addition, abnormal cells may grow and multiply, creating unsightly spots or in some cases, skin cancers. Luckily for us, the skin is unique in its ability to regenerate itself. The normal pace of regeneration, however, is slow and does not prevent the accumulation of abnormal and damaged skin cells. A more efficient way of ridding the body of those abnormal cells and replacing them with «new» skin is to «peel» off the top layers of skin. The body then replaces these layers with new skin that is healthier and younger looking.
Mechanical peels work by «rubbing off» the top layers of skin. Older methods used a pumice stone. Dermabrasion with rotating devices also enjoyed popularity. More recently even salons have started using systems that «sandblast» the skin. How well these methods work is highly technician dependent. Chemical peels work by putting a chemical on the skin that reacts with and breaks up the top layers of skin (epidermis). Examples of this are the «fruit acid» peels, «TCA/Bluepeel» peel, «Obagi blue peel», etc.
Depending on the nature and concentration of the chemicals used these peels can strip off only very superficial layers of skin or they can go deep into the skin, providing a real lifting effect which can replace in selected patients surgical lifting procedures. Laser Resurfacing works by vaporizing layers of skin and can penetrate deeper into the skin. Depending on the type of laser, there can be heating of the tissues underneath the top layers of skin that will also affect how the skin regenerates. Laser resurfacing can yield a longer lasting result, but often comes along with a very prolonged redness of the regenerated skin.
Before any deep peeling procedure the skin has to be prepared during 4-6 weeks with creams which degrease and homogenize the skin. This is done by the patient at home and has no side effects except some flaking of the skin. After the peeling, the patient needs to plan 1 week at home while the skin regenerates, during this time, a powder mask is protecting the face. After the powder mask has come off (1 week), the patient will already be able to see the result and to apply make-up, but a temporary redness of the skin is present and will subside gradually over the next 6-8 weeks.
Due to a potential arrhythmic effect of the peeling substances, patients with severe heart diseases or heart rhythm problems can't be treated. As well any active inflammation process of the skin like active acne or herpes are contraindications, those patients need to completely cure this affliction before undergoing the peeling treatment.
In some rare cases hyper or hypo pigmentation of a treated area can occur and must be treated afterwards. In people with very thin skin there can be a tendency for scars, so that every patient interested in a deep peeling procedure must be seen by a specialist before undergoing the treatment to evaluate that risk.
The procedure rejuvenates the skin and sets aging back a couple of years, but of course does not stop the aging process. After a couple of years, wrinkles will gradually reappear and the treated are will age again. If wanted, a peeling procedure can be repeated after a 5-10 of years.