The skin healing process after a procedure depends on a handful of factors, but one thing that all skin care procedures tend to have in common is that they leave the skin in a vulnerable state, which requires some additional care.

Here, you can learn more about these factors while exploring a few common procedures and what it takes to get your skin back to its normal, healthy state.

A Note on Where to Go for Your Procedures

Before you book your appointment and get on with the healing, know that the profession of the person performing your procedure is often a good indicator of the level of post-care needed. Any procedure more involved than simple exfoliation of the skin's top layer should be performed in the office of a board-certified Dermatologist or plastic surgeon—preferably by the physician themselves. If the board-certified physician is not doing the procedure, make sure to confirm the following:

  • The board-certified Dermatologist (or plastic surgeon) has evaluated you first and recommended this procedure for you.
  • The person performing the procedure is either a certified nurse or physician's assistant.

This advice goes for any skin procedure that draws blood from the skin or makes it very red and raw. Know also that MedSpas are generally not the place to go for this sort of procedure.

Again, the more invasive the procedure, the more sensitive the skin will be and the more intensive the after-care.

Microneedling and Chemical Peels

Microneedling involves a topical numbing cream and a handheld device that uses multiple tiny needles to prick the skin repeatedly—think of a tattoo gun with many small needles and no ink. As the minuscule wounds heal, new collagen forms and the skin rebuilds itself more supple and smoother than before. The improvement you'll achieve as well as the amount of downtime you'll need to recover is determined by how far the needles penetrate the skin. The deeper the needle goes, the more benefit you'll see (to a point).

The rules for chemical peels are similar to those for microneedling. Chemical peels can remove just the top layer and exfoliate the skin, or remove deeper layers for more dramatic results, depending on the peel you choose.

Increased needle depth and peeling chemicals raise the potential risk for a poor outcome if not done by the right person. In general, aestheticians and medical assistants can safely perform minor microneedling and chemical peels that just exfoliate the skin, but anything deeper needs to be done by your Dermatologist, plastic surgeon, nurse, or assistant working in close consultation with a physician.

Because your protective outer layer has been damaged or removed by physical or chemical means, you'll need extra protection from external pollutants and ultraviolet rays. Thick prescription-strength healing creams and a frequent application of broad-spectrum, chemical-free sunscreen are generally recommended until you have healed. Your doctor can provide these, but you should talk with them about any additional healing products you may be interested in.

Microdermabrasion

Microdermabrasion uses tiny crystals to exfoliate the outermost layer of dead skin on the face. This makes your face look refreshed and glowing for a while. After microdermabrasion, it's important to moisturize your skin frequently and apply a broad spectrum, preferably chemical-free sunscreen every morning until your face is no longer red or sensitive. Healing usually takes seven to 10 days, but make sure to check in with yourself—if your skin feels like it's not completely healed, maintain caution until it is.

Because microdermabrasion should not remove any more than the top skin layer, it's safe to have an aesthetician do this procedure for you. Still, remember that whenever a part of your skin barrier is removed, you're left open to quicker, more severe sunburns.

Botulinum Toxin and Fillers

Botulinum toxin is a mild muscle relaxer that temporarily paralyzes (generally from three to six months) the muscles into which they are injected. This can resolve issues like frown lines, forehead lines, and "crow's feet" wrinkles in the corners of your eyes. Botulinum toxin does not fill lines but rather relaxes them away. Wrinkle filler injections, on the other hand, serve a similar end goal—a firm, smooth complexion—but physically fill space and add volume to areas you want to look plusher, such as lips and cheeks.

The most common side effect is temporary bruising, and this is more common from wrinkle fillers. However, botulinum toxin or wrinkle fillers can also have more severe adverse outcomes, particularly if they're not performed by the appropriate medical professional. Some of these risks include droopy eyelid, permanent scarring, and even blindness. That is why any botulinum toxin or wrinkle filler procedure should only be done in the office of a board-certified Dermatologist or plastic surgeon.

These options don't remove any of your skin barrier, but you'll still want to cleanse, moisturize, and protect the skin to prevent further sagging and lines down the road.

A Universal Protective Step

While these procedures differ slightly, there is one nearly universal step you should take in the skin healing process following just about every procedure: apply a moisturizing broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 every single day. For a fluffy, post-facial treat or for daily use, UV Facial is formulated to be beneficial for all skin types needing a moisture boost and UV protection.

Ask for and follow the specific instructions of your skin care professional with regard to sunscreen. Dermatologists often prefer mineral-based, chemical-free sunscreens that contain zinc oxide or titanium dioxide with minimal added ingredients, given that they're less reactive and safest for your procedure-sensitized skin.

The bottom line: be educated, know the credentials of who's performing your skin procedure, and always use a broad-spectrum (preferably chemical-free) sunscreen afterward.

Author

  • Dr. Lawrence Green is an award-winning Dermatologist and clinical professor of dermatology at George Washington University School of Medicine. Based in Rockville, MD, he is the author of over 50 publications in peer-reviewed journals and a member of the Board of Directors of the American Academy of Dermatology.