November 28, 2014
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Healthy Skin

 Health Home >> Healthy Skin >> Younger-looking skin 

Cosmetic procedures: risk vs. benefit

If you've tried all the products out there and are still not satisfied with the results, speak to your dermatologist about cosmetic procedures that may work for you.

Chemical peels are used to correct superficial-to-moderate photoaged (aged from years of exposure to UV radiation from sunlight) surface skin damage. A chemical solution (such as alpha-hydroxy acids, trichloroacetic acid, or carbolic acid) is applied to the face, causing the skin to blister and peel off over a period of days. The skin appears sunburned and may take several days to recover; however, the new skin generally appears smoother and less wrinkled. The procedure is performed in the doctor's office and there is a risk of scarring associated with it. Furthermore, there may also be some pain and discomfort, for which medications are prescribed. During this time, overexposure to the sun must be avoided.

Soft-tissue augmentation involves the injection of collagen, glycosaminoglycans, or fat under the skin to elevate wrinkles and scars. The injected substance is used to replace tissue lost from under the skin in places such as the creases around the nose, mouth, and chin, and the loss of fat pads in the cheeks. Depending on the substance injected and the location, improvements in appearance vary between patients. There may be an after-effect of tissue swelling or bruising, which generally fades in a few hours to a few days.

Botulinum toxin (Botox® injections) involves the injection of purified botulinum toxin in very small amounts into a facial muscle. This blocks the nerve of that muscle and causes the muscle to relax, preventing wrinkle lines from frowns or squints. Results of treatment last 3 to 4 months. A botulinum toxin treatment is accomplished in about 30 minutes in a dermatologist's office. Even though there is no chance of contracting botulism from botulinum toxin injections, there are other risks associated with this procedure. Depending on site of injection, the side effects vary. If too much toxin is injected into a muscle, for example, it could result in a droopy eyelid or eyebrow area that may last for weeks. Some people report headaches, flu-like symptoms, pain or redness at the injection site, and muscle weakness after the injections. Ensure that your doctor is experienced in performing this procedure before proceeding.

Dermabrasion consists of removing the surface layer of skin with a rapidly rotating brush. As a result, a new layer of skin grows to replace the skin removed, which generally appears smoother and not as wrinkled. After-effects include redness of the skin resembling a severe sunburn. Medications are usually prescribed to reduce any discomfort. Although healing is generally complete in about 10 days, sunlight must be avoided for 3 to 6 months after treatment. Serious risks associated with this procedure include permanent skin lightening and scarring.

Microdermabrasion removes surface skin through the use of fine aluminum crystals. It has the advantages of low risk and quick recovery when compared to dermabrasion. It is used most often for superficial skin defects and may be repeated at intervals.

Surgical procedures are used to correct sags in eyelids, forehead, cheeks, and areas around the mouth. They include blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery) to correct droopy eyelids by removing excess fat pads and skin, brow lifts to reduce severe lines in the forehead and raise the eyebrows, and face lifts to tighten the skin on the cheeks, chin, neck, and around the mouth. These procedures carry risks, as does any surgical procedure. It take weeks for a complete recovery, and during that time most people experience pain and discomfort.

 
Written and reviewed by the MediResource Clinical Team 

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