American Society of Plastic Surgeons
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Revitalize and refresh: Skin resurfacing techniques as a tool for facial rejuvenation

skin resurfacing techniques as a tool for facial rejuvenation

In a world obsessed with maintaining a youthful radiance and complexion, many of us are chasing the next great thing to help us do just that. From traditional surgical methods, such as facelifts and eyelid lifts, to less invasive options, such as Botox and fillers, there are many paths to take on the road to revitalizing our complexion.

One option that isn't often considered in the journey to facial rejuvenation is skin resurfacing. This group of procedures involves a variety of methods to gently and effectively rework the appearance of the skin's surface, providing amazing results with minimal downtime.

To gather more insight on the topic of skin resurfacing and how it can be a useful tool for facial rejuvenation, we spoke with ASPS Member Surgeons Michelle Lee, MD, and Jane Weston, MD. Discover their thoughts about these techniques and their advice to make the most of your procedure, should you choose to take the plunge on skin resurfacing.

Basics of skin resurfacing

There are many new treatments in this category, but these procedures have been around for decades as a method of skin rejuvenation. A variety of techniques are used to gently yet effectively improve the texture, appearance and feel of the skin while also reducing the appearance of scars, fine lines and wrinkles.

"The goal of resurfacing is to create micro injuries to the skin, which sloughs off the first layers of the skin, thus incentivizing the body to speed up collagen and elastin production in order to 'heal' the area," said Lee. "As a result, skin quality improves dramatically – significantly reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, tightening and firming the skin, improving skin texture and skin tone."

Skin resurfacing techniques can include lasers, microneedling, peels, neurotoxins and other injectables. Many skin resurfacing procedures are done in conjunction with other surgical facial rejuvenation procedures, although they can also be effectively performed on their own.

"Those that do go ahead with the ablative resurfacing are nearly 100 percent delighted with the results, but I do find it more difficult to get patients to make the commitment to go ahead with the procedure," said Weston.

While there are a variety of reasons patients opt for skin resurfacing, there are a few key reasons to consider it, according to Lee. These include skin rejuvenation, skin tightening, preventative skin maintenance, "prejuvenation" and correcting skin issues, like scarring from surgery or acne.

"Skinfluencers" and the impact on skincare trends

These procedures have been growing in popularity during the last few years thanks to a variety of influences, including social media and widespread access to information on the internet.

"The public is now more informed about skincare than ever before," said Lee. "Between the rise of 'skinfluencers' on social media and the increasing popularity and accessibility of cosmetic procedures, I am seeing a shift in patients' general understanding of skin health. For instance, there is a growing awareness that surgical procedures do not change skin quality, but that skin quality is improved through noninvasive techniques."

In addition to the positive effects of better access to information online, there is the potential for misinformation and false representation.

"When I first started offering this procedure 20ish years ago, patients were appropriately hesitant and cautious, but after viewing before and after photos, they were reasonably receptive to going ahead with the recommended procedure – as long as they had the luxury of a two-week downtime," said Weston. "Nowadays, patients are much more confused because there are so many laser-related procedures available, and most patients do not realize that they are not all the same. Add to that the easy accessibility of online information, misinformation, testimonials, complaints and horror stories, and I get quite a lot of patients who decide against having the procedure done."

Yet, while skin resurfacing techniques are effective options for facial rejuvenation for some, they are often used in combination with traditional surgical techniques to yield the most effective results.

"The average patient usually understands that surgeries like facelifts are comparable to a tailor trimming a garment, while resurfacing treatments are like washing the garment after tailoring," said Lee.

Maximizing your skin resurfacing results

Skin resurfacing is typically an outpatient procedure that requires little to no downtime, but there are a few key methods to make the most of your results following a procedure.

Always do your research

Even if you're considering a minimally invasive skin resurfacing option, it's important to do your homework ahead of time and find the right board-certified plastic surgeon.

"Although skin resurfacing is a common office procedure, serious consequences can occur with the wrong provider," said Lee. "The right provider will consider certain critical factors, like the patient's skin type and their unique skin characteristics, to determine which method is safest and most appropriate."

Find the right procedure for you

Skin resurfacing may feel like a 'one size fits all' type of procedure, but you need to take the time to find the right procedure to fit your skin's unique needs.

"Laser procedures can and should be customized to meet the needs and expectations of each patient with flexibility in regard to depth of penetration, degree of controlled injury, anticipated length of downtime and more," said Weston.

Take the time to rest

It's always tempting to get right back to your regular lifestyle following a minimally invasive procedure. Rather than jumping straight into things, make sure that you take the time to get adequate rest and relaxation.

"I tell my patients to plan for two weeks of social downtime," said Weston. "I also let them know that it is normal to be anxious about the procedure, but they are happy to learn that the resurfacing is surprisingly well-tolerated with minimal post-procedure pain."

Don't skip on sun protection

While we may all adore the warmth and happiness that sunlight brings, it can be damaging to your skin.

"Typically, before and after a skin resurfacing procedure, it is important to stay out of the sun as much as possible to avoid adverse results like hyperpigmentation," said Lee. "I tell my skin resurfacing patients to not only wear their sunscreen, but to use physical protection like a big sun hat to avoid as much UV exposure as possible."

Keep up with a consistent skincare routine

In addition to maintaining sun protection and ensuring that you get enough rest, it's important to also keep a consistent skincare routine both before and after a skin resurfacing procedure.

"The key to maintaining your skin resurfacing results is a consistent skincare routine," said Lee. "An effective skincare routine should incorporate these five products at minimum – facial cleanser, retinol, vitamin C, moisturizer and sunscreen."

Giving your skin the refresh it deserves

When considering facial rejuvenation for glowing, youthful skin, skin resurfacing offers a wealth of possibilities to achieve your aesthetic goals. This tried-and-true group of procedures uses noninvasive techniques to subtly yet effectively refresh and rejuvenate the skin for a more radiant complexion.

With the right plastic surgeon and treatment plan, you can achieve the glowing skin that you've been dreaming of with little downtime.

To find a qualified plastic surgeon for any cosmetic or reconstructive procedure, consult a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. All ASPS members are board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, have completed an accredited plastic surgery training program, practice in accredited facilities and follow strict standards of safety and ethics. Find an ASPS member in your area.


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