A ^Retired Plastic Surgeon's Notebook

Chemical peels can help undo sun damage. But first you have to be a pepperoni pizza.

Chemical peel

Top: Before deep chemical peel. Bottom: 9 month after the deep chemical peel.

It’s summer and time for me to start ragging and nagging about sun protection.  Well, today it’s gonna be a little different.  I am going to talk about what can be done after the sun damage is done.

Many years ago, I spent 6 weeks training with Tom Baker, Howard Gordon and Jim Stuzin in Miami.  This trio wrote the book on facial rejuvenation and I think the location of their practice has something to do with the depth of their understanding of facial aging.  Some of the patients in their practice had skin that was so sun damaged it resembled leather.  It’s almost impossible to get a great face lift result on that type of skin.  Baker, Gordon and Stuzin were very quick to nix the idea of a lift and instead turn to an aggressive chemical peel.  A chemical peel can do things for sun damage that a face lift cannot.

Take a look at this lady.  Her skin is pristine compared to some of the faces I saw in Miami but she does have a lot of sun damage.  She and her husband run a ranch in Northern Idaho and she spends a lot of time outside on her horse.  She has a lot of fine wrinkles and she has a big area of hyperpigmentation, sort of like a gigantic freckle.  It may even be a very early and non invasive melanoma (so called lentigo maligna).   I did a deep chemical peel on her about 9 months ago.  I used a variation of the peel that was developed by Baker and Gordon many years ago.  She looked like a pepperoni pizza for about 10 days.  She’s tough as nails and it didn’t bother her much although she did get tired of her husband saying “But I ordered a cheese pizza, Honey.”  As you can see from her post peel photo on the bottom, she has a lot of smoothing out of her wrinkles and even some tightening along her jaw line and, look, the gigantic freckle is GONE!

I don’t do as many chemical peels as I would like to do.  The recovery is very challenging and it takes a tough cookie like this lady to sign up for it.  But really, when the problem is sun damage, I think a deep peel is the way to go.

Thanks for reading and thanks to my awesome and beautiful patient and her handsome husband for letting me share their experience.  Dr. Lisa Lynn Sowder


Category: Skin Care, sun damage

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