Keeping Facial Skin Healthy
Facial aging is how the appearance of your face changes with age. It occurs mainly as the result of changes in the skin and the deeper soft tissues of the face. Factors that influence external skin changes include natural aging, skin type, sun exposure, facial movement and routine skin care. Facial fat deeper within the face thins with normal aging and, as gravity pulls on the face, the underlying soft tissues droop. However, facial aging can be treated. These two types of changes are separate processes and require different treatments.
What Kind of Skin Changes Occur With Aging?
As the skin ages, it loses its elasticity and skin tone, which eventually leads to fine and coarse wrinkles. The surface of the skin might become rough and dry. The outer layer thins, which gives the skin a translucent appearance and might reveal small underlying blood vessels. Sun exposure causes freckles, irregular facial pigmentation (skin coloring), as well as pre-cancerous and cancerous skin lesions. These are the changes that can be improved with chemical peels, dermabrasion and laser resurfacing.
What Kind of Gravitational Changes Occur?
Gravity causes stretching and looseness (laxity) in the supporting ligaments (flexible bands of tissues) of the face. As a result, the forehead and eyebrows droop, and folds of skin develop on the eyelid. Fat in the cheeks also droops, which results in deepening of the smile lines and the formation of jowls. The neck begins to sag and develops neck bands.
These changes cannot be corrected with chemical peels, dermabrasion or laser therapy, but require procedures such as a face lift, neck lift, forehead lift or eyelid surgery to re-drape the skin and re-elevate the underlying deep structures.
How Do Skin Resurfacing Treatments Work?
Skin treatments such as chemical peels, dermabrasion, and laser resurfacing improve skin tone and pigmentation by removing the sun-damaged outer layers of the skin. As the surface heals, a thicker and healthier outer skin layer (epidermis) develops, and new collagen (skin protein) forms in the deeper skin layers (dermis). Essentially, the skin takes on characteristics of younger skin, including improved texture and tone, the improvement of facial wrinkles and evening irregular pigmentation.
Which Treatment Is Right for Me?
- The location and the type of skin change.
- The degree of sun damage.
- Your natural skin type (color).
- Your expectations.
- The amount of time you are willing to dedicate to recovery.
A consultation with a plastic surgeon can help you identify your concerns and skin-care needs. Mild skin changes common with aging and sun damage require light- or medium-depth peels. Moderate changes should be treated with a medium-depth peel, dermabrasion or laser resurfacing. Severe skin changes require a deep chemical peel, dermabrasion or deeper laser resurfacing.
The deeper the treatment, the more time your skin will need to heal. In general, recovery for superficial chemical peels is three to seven days, depending on your skin characteristics and the depth of the peel. Moderate-depth peels, light dermabrasion and laser require five to ten days to heal, and deep peels, dermabrasion and deeper laser resurfacing take about seven to 14 days to heal.