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What is skin resurfacing?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Skin resurfacing is a term used to describe any procedure that removes the top layer of the skin. Watch the animation to see how skin resurfacing works.



Daniel Kapp
Daniel Kapp on behalf of MDLIVE
Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery

Skin resurfacing is a process where either a laser, chemical peel or dermabrasion are used to remove the outer layers of skin resulting in injury to the dermis resulting in healing of the dermis, collagen deposition and improvement of the appearance.

Stuart A. Linder, MD
Plastic Surgery

Skin resurfacing may include either laser therapy, peels, or dermabrasion. The epidermis is exfoliated, and the collagen and elastin is increased in the papillary layer of the dermis by glycolic acid, TCA, and phenol peels. It is most effective in reducing fine lines and wrinkles, tightening of the skin, and reversing sun damage skin. Both dermatologist and some plastic surgeons offer these different types of skin resurfacing.

Resurfacing techniques remove the old, worn upper layer of skin, and the healing process replaces it with a new layer of fresh, smooth skin. The removal is done with strong lasers, chemicals, or a rapidly rotating wire brush. It’s a delicate process, so find an expert in whatever method suits your needs (consult at least two). How long it takes to recover from the procedure will depend on the size and depth of the treated area. If you have your whole face done, it may take up to several weeks for the redness to go away even once the skin regrowth occurs, but the effect can be remarkable. Resurfacing your entire face is not always necessary, and spot treatments can also be very effective. Or maybe all you need is a laser that mainly evens out color irregularities, or subtly tightens and refreshes the upper surface.

From The Mind-Beauty Connection: 9 Days to Less Stress, Gorgeous Skin, and a Whole New You by Amy Wechsler.

Skin resurfacing techniques are designed to smooth fine lines and wrinkles, get rid of brown spots, reduce sun damage and shrink pores. The level of intensity varies from mild chemical peels to laser resurfacing and laser pulses. After-effects range from mild redness to peeling and scabbing. Skin may also be very sensitive to sunlight and unable to tan. 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.