Go Back in Time
You’re considering having cosmetic dermatology. At first, you were just thinking about your own face, which procedure(s) would help you get it closer to your ideal, and how you would pay for it. But as you dig in, you might get interested in how cosmetic dermatology got started and how it’s changed over time. Why not take a few minutes to learn a little history? You might teach your friends something — and maybe even your dermatologist!
How Cosmetic Dermatology Got Started
Beauty has been a primary concern of humans since time immemorial. Ancient people used whatever materials and techniques they had available to improve the appearance. The skin, particularly the skin of the face, has long been a focus of this activity, with people using a variety of methods to improve its appearance.
Smooth, even skin has been prized for millennia. Ancient Egyptians used a variety of substances to improve the skin’s appearance, including oils, salt, and alabaster. Cleopatra was reported to take baths in sour milk — the acids in the milk would have acted like a light chemical peel, helping her to maintain that beautiful glowing skin. (She probably applied some attractively fragrant oils right after those baths!) While this may not sound appealing, consider the acidic substance used in a similar way in India: urine! It was applied to the face to smooth the skin, often along with pumice (see below). People are willing to go a long way for beauty!
More modern chemicals have been used for chemical peels for longer than you might expect. In 1871, the use of a solution of phenol was reported to improve the skin’s appearance. A report in 1882 described the use of a mixture of substances including salicylic acid and trichloroacetic acid, both of which are still used in chemical peels today.
The idea of injecting fillers under the skin to hide defects is more than a century old. Unfortunately, early dermatologists didn’t have great information about what would actually work. Paraffin was first used in 1899, and became a common material for injections for the next several years. (Yes, that’s candle wax; apparently, it seemed like a good idea at the time, because the material is relatively inert.) Although paraffin provided a good immediate result, what those early dermatologists didn’t realize is that the paraffin would stimulate the formation of granulomas, which are bumpy formations of scar tissue. (Appearance improved? Not so much.) But the general idea was good, and substances were eventually found that would fill wrinkles without stimulating scar formation.
Sanding Down the Defects
Modern microdermabrasion machines are often compared to sandpaper. And that’s not a new idea — ancient Egyptian physicians reportedly used sandpaper on the skin to improve its appearance. Ancient people in India used pumice in a similar way. Modern physicians were using sandpaper by the early 1900s, to improve a variety of defects in the skin. The idea was later developed into the modern technique of microdermabrasion, as well as the more vigorous dermabrasion.
Today, You Have Many Options
Surgeons have spent centuries developing cosmetic dermatology, using newer and better techniques and materials. Today, you have a variety of options if you want to improve the appearance of your face. So if you’re frustrated because you’re trying change something about your face and nothing is working, learn about your cosmetic dermatology options!