What is a chemical peel?

Chemical peels are a category of advanced skin rejuvenation treatments that assist in reversing skin damage caused by factors such as aging, sun-exposure, skin discoloration, and acne. Chemical peel treatments are typically topical acidic solutions that are applied to the affected area of the skin.

Chemical peels improve and smooth the texture of the skin by removing its damaged outer layers. Such treatments have proven to be extremely effective for individuals who suffer from facial blemishes, wrinkles, and uneven skin pigmentation.

  • Are chemical peels a new science?
  • What can be targeted with a chemical peel?
  • Which parts of the body can be teated?
  • Which acid peel is the right choice for my skin?
  • How is a chemical peel performed?
  • How should I care for my skin after a chemical peel?
Are chemical peels a new science?

No, dermatologists have been using various skin peel techniques for over 100 years. Today’s advancements in technology, however, have led to improved formulas of chemical peels that increase the effectiveness of skin removal while reducing any possible ill side effects.

 How does acid affect the skin?

Thousands of your skin cells die on a daily basis. When they die, they flake off and are replaced by new, healthy cells. Chemical peels essentially help speed up this process. The chemical peel acid is applied to the skin to trigger a “blistering” effect that causes the targeted outer layer to gently and slowly peel off. The underlying new, regenerated skin is usually smoother and less wrinkled than the old skin. Thus, chemical peels improve the texture and appearance of the skin. Deeper peels stimulate considerable renewal and collagen growth in the deeper layers of the skin.

What can be targeted with a chemical peel?

Chemical peels can be used to treat:

  • Superficial wrinkles of the face, neck, upper chest, arms, hands, etc.
  • Excessive oil on your face or areas of skin dryness
  • Superficial acne scarring
  • Pigment discoloration (blemishes and blotches)
  • Sun damage, age (liver) spots & uneven skin tone
  • Dark circles under the eyes
  • Rough skin texture and/or enlarged facial pores.
  • Dull skin
Which parts of the body can be teated?

Chemical peels can be performed on all body parts such as the face, neck, chest, back, arms, and legs. Although results may be achieved after one treatment, a series of 3-6 treatments may be required depending on the peel, other treatments used, and the condition.

 How aggressive are chemical peels?

As a general rule, the deeper the acid penetrates into the skin, the more severe the effects and thus, the more dramatic the results.

Classification of the depth of an acid peel

The depth of acid penetration depends on the type and percent of acid strength used for chemical peels.

  • Superficial depth peels include glycolic acid and salicylic acid peels
  • Medium-depth peels include trichloroacetic acid (TCA) peels
  • Deep peels include treatments that use high-strength phenol
Which acid peel is the right choice for my skin?

A consultation with our skin specialists will determine whether or not you are a good candidate and which chemical peel is best suited for your skin. The dermatologist will also provide an application regimen as well as a recovery plan that should be followed to accelerate the healing process and help achieve our goal.

Various concentrations of acids will be applied weekly or at longer intervals to obtain the best results.

How is a chemical peel performed?

After the initial consultation, the dermatologist will select the type and combination of acids and the treatment plan that will be implemented.

We typically utilize a three-step treatment plan that is customized to fit your needs and desired outcomes. The first step consists of cleaning the skin with a gentle cleanser so that the acid can penetrate the skin evenly. The following second and third steps involve applying a combination of acids to the skin, while the skin’s reaction is closely monitored. Afterwards, the acid is washed off with warm water. Ice packs and/or topical anti-inflammatory cream may be applied if desired. Once the desired reaction is achieved, you will be able to apply sun block and leave. The entire procedure takes between 15 to 20 minutes.

The type of chemical peel you receive and your skin type will determine the downtime. For lighter peels, the skin may peel lightly or flake approximately 2 days after the treatment. Optimal results generally occur 5-7 days after your peel. To maintain a fresh glow, light chemical peels are recommended on a monthly basis.

Recovering from a Chemical Peel

During the recovery period for any peel, you will follow a skincare regimen customized for your skin type to promote quicker healing and extended results. During the initial recovery period after a peel, you will want to avoid sun exposure. Once the peeling has stopped and the skin healed, you may reintroduce your skin to the sun after applying sunscreen. The purpose of a peel is to remove dead skin cells and damage on the skin’s surface and to introduce new, fresh skin for a brighter glow, so protect it well.

How should I care for my skin after a chemical peel?

For mild to moderate depth acid peels, there is little irritation and down time. Therefore, you must simply avoid direct sun exposure and scratching or picking at the skin. After the treatment, drink lots of water and apply moisturizer often to keep the skin hydrated.

For moderate to deeper peels such as a TCA peel, we recommend to wash your face often (at least 4 times daily) and use a moisturizer during the first 7-10 days following the treatment, in order to diminish crust formation and help skin heal.

Once again, the skin’s sensitivity to sun is amplified after a chemical peel treatment. Thus, it is of utmost importance to protect your skin from the sun by wearing sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. In most cases, it is best to avoid the sun for the first few days after treatment.

Overall, chemical peeling is considered to be a safe procedure, when performed by an expert – Dermatologist

Down time from a chemical peel depends on the type of skin and the depth of the chemical peel performed. In general some people have more sensitive skin. The dermatologist will be able to predict how your skin will react to the treatment based off an initial assessment. If a mild and superficial peel is performed, you will have little to no discomfort, with very light tingling and burning during procedure that subsides after 1-2 minutes. With deeper peels, these symptoms can be slightly more intense.

What are the side effects of the treatment?

After the treatment, you may experience tolerable irritation of the skin, redness, swelling, and increased sun sensitivity. Later, you will experience flaking and localized scaling, which is the desired outcome. These symptoms can last for a few hours to a few days depending on the type and strength of acid used. Permanent discoloration is rare and can be prevented by avoiding direct sun exposure and using sunblock/sunscreen.

Generally, patients with darker skin are at a higher risk of experiencing changes in pigmentation. We prevent this by providing you with a pre-peel regimen containing melanin stabilizing agents 2weeks prior to chemical peel. We also do not do deep chemical peels for patients with darker skin to avoid this complication.

To learn more about Chemical peels, contact our offices today.

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