Understanding Skin Treatment Risks

Every year, may thousands of patients undergo successful skin treatment procedures, experience no major problems and are pleased with the results. Anyone considering treatment, however, should be aware of both the benefits and risks.

I understand that every medical procedure has risks, but how will I learn more so that I can make an informed decision?

The subject of risks and potential complications of skin resurfacing is best discussed on a personal basis between you and your plastic surgeon, or with a staff member in your surgeon's office.

Skin resurfacing procedures are generally safe when performed by an experienced board-certified plastic surgeon. The various resurfacing techniques discussed in this brochure have similar types of risks, although there are some differences. for example, infection or abnormal healing are infrequent but may occur with any of the skin treatments. If you are prone to skin disorders including allergic reactions or herpes, skin resurfacing can cause eruptions of these conditions. Even an AHA peel, which is the most superficial of the resurfacing techniques, may occasionally produce temporary minor skin irritation. Tiny whiteheads may develop on the skin following some procedures. These usually disappear with use of a mildly abrasive cleanser, but occasionally may require removal by your surgeon or a staff member in your surgeon's office.

Some individuals have a tendency to form raised or thickened scars, and this may be unpredictable. Medications are available to treat such complications, but in rare cases some degree of scarring may be permanent. While the bleaching effect of a phenol peel is to be expected, other types of peels, dermabrasion and laser skin resurfacing sometimes may produce unanticipated color changes or skin blotchiness.

Following all resurfacing treatments, it is important that you avoid direct or indirect exposure to the sun until all the redness or pinkness of your skin has subsided. Even after that, it is advisable for you to protect your skin by regular use of a sunblock and, whenever possible, a wide-brimmed hat. This is particularly important if you have had a phenol peel which eliminates your skin's ability to tan. If the area around your eyes has been treated, you should wear good quality sunglasses when outdoors. After some types of skin resurfacing treatments, you may need to be careful about exposing your skin to chlorinated water.

You can minimize certain risks and help to maintain the results of your skin treatment by following the instructions of your plastic surgeon.

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