dr. J. VANDEPUTTE

Plastic Surgery

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peeling - skin resurfacing

A chemical peel coagulates and peels off a superficial layer of skin.

The most superficial peel is an aesthetician's treatment. Only a part of the dead skin surface is removed. The wrinkles are less deep and the red color of the blood becomes slightly more apparent. This gives a smoother and livelier appearance to the skin.

A medical peel has a deeper effect. It removes a part of the living skin surface (epidermis) and in some cases of the deeper skin tissue (dermis). Skin spots caused by ageing (hyperpigmentation, hardening), pregnancy induced hyperpigmentation and other pigment changes can be bleached or removed. The healing reaction causes some skin contraction and improves fine wrinkles. Depending on the depth of the peel it can be performed in the office without anaesthesia or in the hospital under sedation or general anaesthesia. The deeper the peel, the greater the effect but also the longer the healing period (from three days to three weeks for epidermal healing). In that time the skin peels off. In deeper peers there is swelling and crust formation as well. After the healing period the skin may remain pink for several weeks to several months.

Skin quality is very variable between persons but also between different body areas. It is usually advisable to begin with a superficial peel to test the healing capacity of the skin. A deep peel may cause pigment problems and scars. For many patients repeated superficial peels are easier to achieve than one deep peel, because of the quick recovery. Almost always the skin has to prepared with creams for several weeks before the peeling can be done.

In laser treatment of wrinkles, light waves are used to remove a thin layer of skin. Dermabrasion means scraping off skin layers with a grindstone. This oldest technique of skin resurfacing remains very useful for cleaning up abrasions to the face and to level some scars, e.g. in acne.