“Caring for your largest and most environmentally exposed organ is more than skin deep, and it doesn’t have to be very complicated for everyone to reap benefits.”
There’s one thing for sure: Everyone looks better with smoother, clearer, glowing skin.
That “supermodel” or “rich man” skin is lying beneath the surface of your skin — skin resurfacing treatments can help unveil it by fulfilling your skin’s innate regenerative potential.
Just the word “resurfacing” sounds intimidating. In actuality, it’s just a succinct way of describing a variety of skin renewal and revitalising treatments that are designed to lift damaged dead cells and blemishes off the skin surface, and boost the regeneration of a fresher, flawless complexion.
Scroll on to peel away some common myths and get illuminated on important facts about the different skin resurfacing treatments.
FAQ: Will Resurfacing Treatments Thin Out My Skin?
In summary, skin resurfacing treatments aim to thin and thicken your skin — in all the right places.
In damaged or aged skin, the dead cell layer (stratum corneum) thickens and the keratinocyte (live skin cell layer) below it becomes thinner, misshapen, and disorganized as skin’s cellular renewal slows down significantly – leading to rough texture and dull, dehydrated appearance of tired skin.
At the same time, pigment cells (melanocytes) produce excess and disordered pigmentation, resulting in mottled hyperpigmentation and dark spots.
Collagen and elastin fibres in the dermis are also reduced in number and deteriorate in strength in aged skin, translating into lines, laxity, and papery thin, sallow skin.
Resurfacing treatments aim to trigger renewal and restoration of the healthy architecture of a thinner outer dead cell layer and a thicker and more compact middle keratinocyte epidermal layer for a clearer, smoother, healthier complexion that can hold hydration better.
This also signals a lovely chain reaction in the inner dermal layer to promote the production of more collagen and elastin, which increases its thickness and density for more youthful supple skin.
With that, all three tenets of beautiful skin can potentially be improved at the same time — Texture, Tone, Tightness.
Hence, resurfacing treatments are used to address multiple common skin woes, ranging from lines, pigment spots, scars, enlarged pores, dullness, and laxity to tiny oil seeds and seborrheic warts.
FAQ: What Are My Resurfacing Treatment Options?
As with all treatments, the three basic things that influence outcome include the technology, the hands holding the technology, and the suitability of the recipient.
Technology-wise, there are three main methods commonly used: Physical (mechanical), Chemical, and Energy-based resurfacing.
In general, a deeper treatment can potentially result in better skin rejuvenation.
We have rounded up four personal favourites to unveil your personal best:
OPTION #4 HYDRADERMABRASION
It first started out as harsh mechanical wire scouring of skin (dermabrasion) done under sedation, before the much kinder crystal microdermabrasion became popular in the 2000s. Today, a less abrasive, wet hybrid – hydradermabrasion (or aquapeel) – has taken over the scene.
HydraFacial MD is perhaps the best known original hydradermabrasion facial, worldwide. Its Vortex technology uses a combination of oxygen and aqueous solutions at supersonic speeds to remove debris and dead cells that are then suctioned away. This provides gentle superficial resurfacing.
Hydradermabrasion is interesting because the supersonic micro-droplet jet results in a pressured widening of micro-canals in the outer skin layers that facilitate hydration in the same pass, as well as greater delivery of nutrients and pore purification for the plump and dewy “HydraFacial Glow”.
Mild-mannered and customisable with a series of specialty serums, HydraFacial is a painless and relaxing way to clear up congested skin, perk up dull dehydrated skin, or help milder cases of acne, fine lines, sun damage, and uneven skin tone make a radiant comeback.
HydraFacial MD is suitable for all skin types to maintain overall health and skin quality.
A study on the efficacy of hydradermabrasion on skin rejuvenation demonstrated that the skin had increased epidermal and papillary dermal thickness after a series of 6 treatments, as well as greater antioxidant levels.
OPTION #3 PROFESSIONAL PEEL
Chemical peels basically use acidic solutions to loosen up the “glue” between cells when applied to exfoliate the dead skin.
An ancient Cleopatra-classic and a resurfacing mainstay before the advent of lasers, chemical peels (a.k.a fruit acid acids) are now seeing a resurgence in the doctor’s office.
As with all old-is-new ideas, today’s peels aren’t just total retreads. While your mother’s peel used to leave the skin red and raw, our goal now is not so much to cause obvious skin peeling as it is to infuse the skin with well-proven ingredients that normalise pore keratinisation, skin turnover, diminish lines and improve tone.
Refined formulas with advanced delivery technology, like the new-generation Inner Peel used in our award-winning Clear Reveal, are designed to bypass the surface. This reduces irritation, whilst working deeper to rev up skin repair and collagen regeneration in Asian skin safely and more effectively.
We also now know that using lower percentages of multiple acids often give a better outcome with less irritation than a single acid at higher strength. This further allows the doctor to go custom to better address specific concerns with different treatment cocktails.
Combined with lighteners and antioxidants, modern peels offer “cold rejuvenation” of melasma or persistent acne marks and scars in those with heat-sensitive skin that are unable to tolerate lasers.
Surprising to many patients (some of whom had to learn it the hard way), “simple swabbing” of professional-strength peels does require experienced hands to control. Please do not attempt this at home.
OPTION #2 LASER RESURFACING
Resurfacing lasers have come a long way. From the early 2000s, ablative fractional lasers (AFLs) became available. This major leap in technology made it the treatment of choice for rejuvenation and scars due to high efficacy with a good safety profile and acceptable recovery time.
AFLs or “micro-laser peels” utilise tiny concentrated beams of light energy that plunge into the epidermis and dermis in a pixelated grid of micro-thermal treatment zones (MTZ) for deep renewal with rapid healing. Initial skin flushing and pinpoint scabbing for a few days are expected during the recovery week. Regeneration of epidermis and dermis from the reservoir of cells surrounding each MTZ, as well as tightening of existing collagen, translates into a more refined texture, more even and radiant colour tone, lifting of scars and youthful tightness.
In recent years, newer non-ablative and “sub-ablative” fractional resurfacing lasers (e.g. fractional erbium-glass and thulium lasers, such as Fraxel Dual, LaseMD, and BB laser) have been introduced to further reduce downtime, target more surface lesions (e.g. superficial pigment spots, pores, fine lines) and to act as a drug delivery system. But ablative fractional resurfacing lasers (e.g. fractional CO2 and erbium-YAG lasers, such as SmartXide) are still the industry gold standard to be compared against for skin rejuvenation and scar repair.
The new-generation SmartXide Touch laser ups the ante by cleverly combining fractional ablative CO2 laser resurfacing with simultaneous radiofrequency emission to encourage more generous collagen production and scar remodeling, without prolonging recovery time.
Along with precise control of every aspect of the laser beam and ultra-high muscle power, this elegant masterpiece hands us the freedom to fully tailor each treatment to the skin’s needs and the lifestyle of the individual. Treatment of challenging areas like the eyelids, neck, and decolletage is also possible.
OPTION #1 PLASMA SKIN REGENERATION
This is one of the newest and most exciting resurfacing technology – simply because it’s all gain, no pain.
Instead of using mechanical exfoliation, chemicals, or laser, NeoGen Plasma STAR delivers heat painlessly below the skin through precisely controlled plasma gas.
Most of us were taught in school about the three states of matter: solid, liquid, and gas. Actually, there are four. The fourth state of matter is plasma, an ionised gas that makes up 99% of matter in the Universe, like the sun’s blazing surface and the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis). A man-made example you would be familiar with is the plasma TV.
As energy is transmitted to the epidermis and dermis, deep renewal below the surface is activated. Since the surface skin is left intact, there is zero to minimum social downtime, as well as enhanced safety, even in darker Asian skin types. It is also safe and effective for rejuvenating the delicate skin around the eyes, mouth, neck, and hands.
Over the course of usually 4-7 days, the dead skin cells are shed, unveiling a fresh epidermis and a new lease of life for sun-damaged, scarred or uninspired skin.
Both plasma and laser resurfacing not only provide cosmetic improvements of pigmentation spots and lines, but also potentially reduce pre-cancerous actinic lesions through repair of sun damage.
Plasma has the added advantage of acne control by rebalancing skin’s bacterial flora whilst resurfacing scars and signs of aging.
At the same time, new collagen fibers begin to form and line up perpendicular to the surface of the skin, which is their normal orientation. This means the skin tightening and rejuvenation results will always look natural, not the abnormally shiny, thinned out or painfully taut skin that overly agressive deep chemical peels of the yesteryears used to yield. New collagen formation may even continue for up to 1 year.
Although Plasma treatment generally does not penetrate as deeply as a full CO2 resurfacing, it allows for full surface treatment, as opposed to fractional skin treatment with laser resurfacing.
Visible improvements in texture, tightness, clarity, and scars, coupled with the quick, painless procedure and an easy recovery process, make NeoGen Plasma STAR a rapidly rising star in the aesthetic medicine world.
FAQ: How can I optimise my resurfacing treatment?
Appropriate adjunct treatments, such as Rejuran Healer SkinBooster, Calecim Youtherapy stem cell serum infusion, and LED light therapy, are often employed to accelerate healing and maximise response to skin resurfacing.
Pre- and post-procedural care, as well as follow-up, are oft-neglected but can be equally important as the treatment itself to ensure your smooth recovery and the best possible results, especially for deeper treatments.
Goldilocks’ golden rule of “Not too little. Not too much.” helps skin achieve peak motivation. Over-exfoliation (e.g. overusing exfoliating pads, vitamin A creams, and acid products in conjunction with resurfacing treatments) will yield red, sensitive, flaky skin instead.
Communicate regularly with your doctor on your journey to discovering your best skin, best self.
DR. TAN WANG THENG