How long into the quarantine was it before impatience/boredom started to set in for you, a month? A couple of weeks? A few days? Whenever you arrived at that point, you probably felt the temptation to attempt some beauty treatments you’d normally leave to a professional. While most are fairly harmless, even when they go sideways, there are some that could result in hyperpigmentation and even scarring. These are three invasive home treatments you should leave to your board-certified plastic surgeon.
You probably noticed there’s no shortage of at-home microneedling rollers on Amazon. Don’t let that fool you into believing that you can safely and effectively mimic the procedure you have done at your plastic surgeon’s office. For one, those at-home rollers don’t penetrate the skin nearly as well as the medical-grade instrument that’s used by your plastic surgeon. That doesn’t mean that they can’t do any damage. It takes training and experience to know how deep to push the roller into the skin. Inconsistent pressure can lead to scarring.
Also, even though at-home rollers don’t go as deep, the skin is still being penetrated and bleeding does occur as a result. In your plastic surgeon’s exam room, it’s not a problem when that occurs because it’s a controlled, sterile environment. Chances are, your bathroom is not, which could set you up for a skin infection.
Chemical peels have a bevy of benefits. By dissolving dead cells and microscopic debris on the surface of the skin, they can create smoother skin, a more even tone, and a brighter complexion. But that’s only when they’re administered by an experienced professional. Even a mild chemical peel—a peel with a concentration of 10% or less glycolic and lactic acids and no more than 2% salicylic acid—done at home carries the potential to burn the skin and cause hyperpigmentation if it’s left on for too long. And if you use them too often, you can strip the skin barrier and cause irritation.
Those with dark skin tones and preexisting skin conditions are also more prone to infection when they use any form of chemical peel.
Laser hair removal
To destroy hair follicles, at-home laser removal devices employ intense pulsed light (IPL), which isn’t technically laser energy. The critical difference is that the IPL targets the dark pigment in hair follicles to eventually destroy the follicles. For most, that simply means a long, arduous process that may still leave you wanting. But for anyone with dark skin, the devices can actually be dangerous because the IPL can target not only the dark pigment in the follicle but also pigment in the skin, which can lead to burns that can cause permanent scarring.
The takeaway: Most signs indicate that we’re nearly through the worst of this. If you’ve steered clear of the invasive home treatments to this point, don’t start now. You’ll be in good hands soon enough.