Nonsurgical Treatments to Improve the Appearance of Facial Skin

The facial plastic experts at University Hospitals collaborate with our team of board-certified dermatologists to offer patients nonsurgical treatments to improve the appearance of their facial skin due to age, sun damage or both. The most popular procedures we offer include:

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Laser skin resurfacing and scar revision

We all deal with scars, wrinkles, or lines on our face that are the result of acne, sun damage or simple aging. Laser resurfacing is a way to reverse and improve these changes to achieve younger and healthier looking skin. It achieves this by removing the outer layer of skin and allowing new skin to grow. This rejuvenates and tightens the skin, leading to a cosmetic improvement.

Although minimal, there are some risks associated with laser resurfacing that patients should be aware of before proceeding with treatment. These may include:

  • Abnormal scarring
  • Lightening or darkening of the skin
  • Reactivation of herpetic sores
  • Burns
  • Infection

The treatment can be around the eyes, mouth, and/or forehead. For large areas, we offer sedation or general anesthesia to help patients tolerate the procedure whereas small areas may only require topical numbing cream. After the procedure, you will need to apply ointment frequently to prevent the skin from drying out and help with the healing process. You may feel itching after procedure but this resolves in the first few days. In the first week, the skin will begin to dry and peel. It is very common for the skin to appear quite red after the procedure throughout the healing process, which can take up three weeks. Some patients may experience redness for up to 2-3 months.

Before and After the Procedure

Before proceeding with laser skin resurfacing, patients must quit smoking for at least one month prior to the procedure. Smoking can delay and inhibit the healing process.

Patients are discharged the same day as their procedure but must take precautions once they are home. The skin on your face will be especially susceptible to sun damage after laser resurfacing so it is essential to apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen at least for 6-12 months following the procedure and ideally, forever to prevent more damage from occurring. You should also limit your sun exposure in the late morning and early afternoon and be sure to wear clothing that protects your skin from the sun as well as a brimmed hat.

Chemical peels

Chemical peels are another form of skin resurfacing that can refresh your skin after changes related to the aging process and accumulated sun exposure. They are primarily used to treat dyspigmentation (color changes) and the accumulation of fine lines.

There are a variety of different strengths of chemical peels can be offered depending on the degree of changes that are seen. A light chemical peel, also known as a lunchtime chemical peel, has minimal downtime and can be useful to make the skin look more refreshed. A medium chemical peel can treat mild to moderate sun damage and can be useful to even the color and tone of the skin. Deep chemical peels are reserved for those who have accumulated more significant changes to their skin.

Small areas of the face can be treated in the office with local analgesia, whereas patients who require more full treatment of their face often have the procedure done with a deep twilight type of anesthesia. The downtime from chemical peels depend on the strength of the chemical peel. This can range anywhere from minimal peeling to more significant peeling that can last up to 7 to 10 days as is seen with a deep chemical peel. Your facial plastic surgeon or dermatologist will discuss the benefits of the chemical peel and review the expected recovery time during your consultation.