Skin Lightening Surgery: What Are Your Options?
By the time you start looking for skin lightening surgery or skin lightening treatment options that involve a medical professional, it’s safe to assume that you’re probably looking for a quick and dramatic difference to your skin tone.
After all, that’s what surgery usually provides.
But when it comes to skin lightening, that’s not always the case. In fact, we’d go far as to say that the best way to lighten your skin isn’t a speedy bullet skin lightening surgery but to use a more holistic approach. For example, making use of a combination of skin lightening skin care products as well as treatments to get the brightening and lightening you’re looking for.
So which treatment options exist? Well, we’ve come a long way from the natural ingredients of the past to products sold over the counter to the highly advanced procedures of today that promise to lighten the skin ranging from minimal to a number of shades up.
As quickly as our technological capabilities advances, so does the popping up of newer cosmetic procedures.
For someone who is new to the world of skin lightening surgery, things can get pretty confusing. Finding the right procedure for you and your needs can be a daunting task which is why we’re here to help you figure out which one you should go for – if ever.
Here are the procedures that are available today and everything you need to know about them!
Microdermabrasion: Does It Work?
What is it? The first procedure on our list is not something for those who wish to drastically lighten their skin tone but is instead aimed for those who wish to brighten their skin in a subtle way and even out any discolorations – addressing issues such as sun spots, age spots, and scarring.
Microdermabrasion delivers on this evening, brightening out of the overall complexion because it is a procedure that exfoliates and removes the superficial layer of dry, dead skin cells, allowing for newer brighter skin to emerge.
The procedure buffs and polishes the skin using a stream of fine crystals or a diamond tip. Those with uneven pigmentation will benefit greatly from this procedure and it is highly recommended for melamsa patients according to Heidi Waldorf, the director of laser and cosmetic dermatology at The Mount Sinai Medical Hospital in New York City.
How is it done? When done in a clinic or salon, a technician or dermatologist uses a specialized tool for the procedure. The tool shoots a stream of tiny crystals such as aluminum oxide, sodium chloride, or sodium bicarbonate, and collects the leftover dead skin cells and used crystals.
The tool has a vacuum that pulls and raises a small section of the skin, creates a mild swelling that brings impurities to the surface and shoots a stream of crystals to the targeted skin patch. The vacuum then collects the used crystals and dead skin cells.
There are also newer tools that consist of a singe diamond tipped wand which the technician moves over the target area whilst applying even and steady pressure to remove the stratum corneum without affecting lower skin layers.
The cool thing about microdermabrasion is that as its popularity grows, there are more and more effective home microdermabrasion kits popping up on the market every day. Here’s a full guide to doing microdermabrasion at home!
How much does it cost? Treatments in clinics or salons can cost at around $100 to $200 per session with several sessions needed – spaced throughout the year – for maximum results.
Home treatments, on the other hand, are much cheaper and a single machine can cost you anywhere from $30 to $200+. Of course, you can use the home microdermabrasion machine over and over again, helping you save money in the long run.
What are the pros and cons? One of the main benefits of microdermabrasion is that it is a safe and non surgical procedure. It is also surprisingly painless with some patients likening it to having a facial massage. It is also a relatively quick procedure which will take only about an hour. Because it is non invasive, chances of complications are also slim. Results are instantaneous with dramatic reduction of scarring seen after just one session.
On the downside, microdermabrasion cannot fix deeper scars and skin problems as it only targets the top layer of the skin. It is also not advisable for those who wish to dramatically lighten their skin as its effects are more subtle, providing more of an evening and brightening than a drastic whitening.
Laser Skin Whitening: Does it Work?
What is it? Laser skin whitening is a procedure wherein short pulsed concentrated beams of light are targeted to remove irregular or damaged skin to stimulate the growth of new skin cells thus giving the person a lighter skin tone. It is used to effectively treat various hyper pigmentation problems such as chloasma, melasma, age spots, liver spots, uneven skin, and other discoloration problems.
Laser skin whitening can involve either ablative or non ablative techniques. Ablative lasers generally use older style carbon dioxide laser and medium depth chemical peel that work to vaporize affected tissues. This removes the top layer of the skin as well as part of the underlying sub layer.
Meanwhile, non ablative lasers coagulate the affected tissue whilst keeping the outer layer of the skin intact. This provides for faster healing and recovery.
There is also another type called fractional skin resurfacing that uses a combination of both ablative and non ablative techniques. Laser energy micro beams are focused on areas of affected tissue in the upper layer through to the dermis below. This provides for more effective results with lesser risks and faster recovery time.
Generally though, ablative techniques provide the best results but with a higher risk of scarring. A practiced surgeon would be able to tell you which type is best suited for you.
How is it done? Laser resurfacing is done by a plastic surgeon or dermatologist and is an outpatient procedure. Treating just parts of the face take about 30-45 minutes while a full face treatment can take up to two hours.
The laser breaks down a part of the melanin into microscopic particles which is later naturally expelled by the body. The melanin may also form a thin dark crust on the skin which will gradually shed over time revealing lighter skin.
After the procedure, your doctor will bandage the treated areas which you will then need to clean 3 to 5 times a day after 24 hours. In 5 to 7 days after the procedure your skin will begin to dry and peel and then in 10 to 21 days will start to heal. 3 to 5 sessions are usually required to see visible results.
How much does it cost? According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the average cost for laser skin resurfacing id $2,222 for ablative types and $1,113 for non ablative. General treatments meanwhile can range between $500 to $3500. Costs can also vary depending on where you get the procedure done.
What are the pros and cons? Results are fast with improvements in the skin seen right away. After treatment skin will visibly appear brighter and will also improve progressively over time. For ablative techniques, only 1 to 2 treatments may be needed to remove dark spots and improve the skin’s appearance.
For non ablative treatments results may show after 1 to 5 treatments. Most patients have also reported good results regarding laser resurfacing working on skin problems such as scars, sun damage, minimizing the appearance of dark spots, and wrinkles, among other issues.
On the disadvantages side, it is common for patients to see redness and swelling of the skin after treatment and other risks include blistering, scarring, and scabbing, among others. Further risks include hyper pigmentation or hypo pigmentation due to the laser disrupting the structure of the cells beneath the skin surface.
Cryosurgery: Does it Work?
What is it? Another alternative you can look into for skin whitening surgery is cryosurgery. Cryosurgery is a method that makes use of liquid nitrogen to destroy melanin cells thus allowing the skin to regenerate a new epidermis with a lighter shade. Other skin issues that cryosurgery addresses includes the lightening of dark spots and freckles, among others.
How is it done? Cryosurgery is a non invasive and non surgical way to improve the skin’s appearance that has become in demand as of late. Skin is lightened and unsightly flaws are removed by freezing affected areas through a localized frostbite approach. The American Society for Dermatologic Surgery states that cryosurgery causes darkened skin to peel away from the body by freezing them.
There are three main techniques used in cryosurgery. The most basic is through the use of Q tips dipped into a cup containing a cryogen (such as liquid nitrogen) and applying this directly onto the skin to freeze. It is then allowed to slowly thaw to ensure maximum destruction of the skin cells.
The next technique is essentially the same but makes use of a device to spray cryogen onto the skin instead. The third option makes use of a probe to circulate and cool the cryogen to low temperatures, after which the probe is brought into direct contact with the skin. All techniques use the same freeze thaw steps.
In the past, cryosurgery was accomplished strictly through the use of liquid nitrogen, but now state of the art equipment such as the Dermapen Cryo – that uses a very precise jet of highly compressed liquified nitrous oxide to destroy cells in a matter of seconds – is now also widely used.
How much does it cost? The cost of cryosurgery ranges between $500 to $900 depending on the area you wish to target.
What are the pros and cons? With cryosurgery there is minimal risk of scarring, it is not as expensive as other treatment options, and there is minimal pain.
Downsides would be that albeit rare, there is a risk of nerve damage, the procedure is not effective on issues that are deeply rooted beneath the skin, and blistering can occur over the affected area after procedure.
Chemical Peels: Do They Work?
What is it? A chemical peel is also known as chemical exfoliation or derma peeling. It is considered as one of the least invasive procedures for skin lightening and treating other skin conditions.
It makes use of chemical solutions such as salicylic acid or carbolic acid to create a controlled wound which eventually peels off. As the skin peels off, a newer and brighter complexion emerges.
There are three basic types of chemical peels namely superficial or lunchtime peel, medium peel, and deep peel. In the superficial peel, alpha hydroxy acids or another mild acid is used to penetrate only the outermost layer of the skin with the aim of gentle exfoliation. This is generally for improvement of skin discoloration and for refreshment of the face, neck, chest, or hands.
With medium peels, glycolic acid or trichloroacetic acid is applied to penetrate the outermost and middle layers of the skin for removal of damaged skin cells. This type of peel addresses issues such as age spots, fine lines, freckles, and moderate skin discoloration, among others.
Lastly, with deep peel, tricholoracetic acid or phenol is applied to deeply penetrate the middle layer of skin to remove damaged skin cells. This treatment has a more dramatic effect than the other two and removes age spots, freckles, scars, and lines, among others.
How is it done? A chemical peel is generally performed in a doctor’s office or surgery center and is an outpatient procedure. Before the procedure the skin is thoroughly cleansed with an agent that gets rid of excess oils and the eyes and hair are protected. One or more chemical solutions such as glycolic acid, salicylic acid, lactic acid, carbolic acid, trichloroacetic acid, are applied to the skin.
After application a controlled wound is produced that enables the regeneration and appearance of new skin. Patients may experience a warm sensation during the procedure that can last up to 10 minutes, which is then followed by a stinging sensation.
For gentle chemical peels, you don’t even need to visit the doctor’s office – in fact, you can purchase chemical peels that are specifically designed for skin lightening and do them at home. These products are in lower concentrations than you’d get at the dermatologist’s office, making them safe yet effective. Find out how to do chemical peels for skin lightening!
How much does it cost? Chemical peels cost about $70-$120 for mild peels. Deeper peels may cost over $600. At home chemical peels usually range from around $15 to $100+ and can be used multiple times.
What are the pros and cons? Pros of chemical peel would include it being non invasive, virtually zero downtime as patients are able to go back to day to day routines immediately after treatment, and it is really effective in evening out skin tone and blurring out pores.
Downsides would include it possibly causing hypersensitive skin, skin damage, and the need for multiple treatments for some patients to see noticeable results.
The procedures we’ve mentioned are just some of the more popular ones that are currently available for skin lightening.
Keep in mind that when it comes to skin lightening surgery or treatments, it’s always best to consult with a professional such as a dermatologist to help you understand your skin better and help make you the best decision moving forward.