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March 1962

Superficial Chemosurgery in Treating Aging Skin

Author Affiliations


From the Department of Dermatology, University of Southern California School of Medicine (Dr. Maximilian E. Obermayer, Chairman), the Surgical Planing Clinic (Dr. Samuel Ayres, III, Director) of the Dermatology Service, Los Angeles County General Hospital, and the private practice of the author.

Photography (in part) by Avis Gregersen, B.S., F.B.P.A.

Arch Dermatol. 1962;85(3):385-393. doi:10.1001/archderm.1962.01590030083011

Superficial (cutaneous) chemosurgery refers to the application of chemical cauterants, such as phenol or diluted trichloroacetic acid, for the destruction of the epidermis and uppermost dermis of aging, wrinkled, and sun-damaged skin, followed by healing, with the replacement of these tissues by new epidermis and new dermal connective tissue. This results clinically in an improved texture and appearance of the skin and a decrease in fine and moderate wrinkling.

Histologic findings after the application of phenol and of trichloroacetic acid to human skin1 are closely analogous to those after dermabrasion,3 * except that the epidermis and uppermost dermis are chemically destroyed and remain in place while new epidermal cells, derived from the cutaneous adnexa, produce a new epidermis beneath this destroyed tissue. The latter is then cast off after 5 days to 2 weeks. After epidermal regeneration, complete in about a week, dermal regeneration takes place between 2 and

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