A chemical peel is a technique used to improve the appearance of the skin on the face, neck or hands. A chemical solution is applied to the skin that causes to exfoliate and eventually peel off. The new, regenerated skin is usually smoother and less wrinkled than old skin. There are three basic types of chemical peels:
Superficial Peel- Alpha-hydroxyl acid or another mild acid is used to penetrate the outer layer of skin to gently exfoliate it. The treatment is used to improve the appearance of mild skin discoloration and rough skin as well as to refresh the face, neck or chest.
Medium Peel- Glycolic or trichloroacetic acid is applied to penetrate the out and middle layers of skin to remove damaged skin cells. The treatment is used to improve age spots, fine lines and wrinkles, freckles and moderate skin discoloration. It also can be used to smooth rough skin and treat some precancerous skin growths.
Deep Peel- Trichloroacetic acid or phenol is applied to deeply penetrate the middle layer of skin to remove damaged skin cells. The treatment removes moderate lines, age spots, freckles and shallow scars. Patients will see a dramatic improvement in skin appearance. This procedure is used on the face and can only be preformed once.
When is a chemical peel appropriate?
Chemical peels are used to treat a number of conditions including:
- Acne scars
- Aging skin
- Crow’s feet
- Sun damaged skin
Who is not a candidate for a chemical peel?
Generally light-haired and fair skinned people are the best candidates for chemical peels. The procedure is not recommended for individuals with infections, active skin disease, cut or broken skin, sunburns or active Herpes simplex 1 sores. Other counter-indications include patients who are:
- Nursing or pregnant
- Have taken Accutane in the last six months
- Have psoriasis, eczema, dermatitis or rosacea
- Have used Retin-A, Renova, prescription skin care products, products that contain ascorbic acid, bleaching or skin-lightening agents or other acid-based products in the last 48 hours
Are chemical peels painful?
Chemical peels sting but do not cause a great deal of pain. The gentlest peels use alpha-hydroxyl, glycolic, lactic or fruit acids are also gentle. They may cause stinging, redness, irritation and crusting but as the skin begins to adjust all these problems will lessen.
Trichloroacetic acid are used for stronger peelings. They remove wrinkles, superficial blemishes and pigment problems. Phenol is the strongest of all treatments and removes deep lines and wrinkles on the face. These type of treatments sting more than those with the gentler acids. After the treatment there may be redness, swelling and irritation but the use of creams and gels will reduce these effects.
What can I expect after having a chemical peel?
Superficial peels require one to seven days to heal. Treated skin will initially be red and may scale. Lotion or cream should be applied until the skin heals, followed by daily use of sunscreen. Makeup can be the next day.
Medium peels require seven to fourteen days to heal. Treated skin will initially be red and swollen. Swelling worsens for the first 48 hours. Skin crusts and peels off in seven to fourteen days. Skin must be soaked daily for a specified period, followed by ointment application. Mild lotion or cream may be applied. Avoid all sun exposure until healing is complete. Makeup can be worn five to seven days after the treatment. A follow-up appointment will be necessary to monitor progress.
Deep peels require fourteen to 21 days to heal. Skin must be soaked four to six times daily, followed by ointment application for the first 14 days. Afterwards a think moisturizer is applied for the next fourteen days. Mild lotion or cream may be applied. Avoid all sun exposure for three to six months. Makeup can be worn fourteen days after treatment. Several follow-up appointments will be necessary to monitor progress.