What is a chemical peel?
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 it to exfoliate and eventually peel off. The new, regenerated skin is usually smoother and less wrinkled than the old skin. The new skin is also temporarily more sensitive to the sun. There are three basic types of chemical peels:
What are the various strengths of peels?
Superficial or lunchtime peel: Alpha-hydroxy acid, or another mild acid is used to penetrate only 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, chest or hands.
Medium peel: Glycolic, Jessners or trichloroacetic acid (TCA) is applied to penetrate the outer 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, i.e. actinic keratosis.
Deep peel: Trichloroacetic acid (TCA) or a combination of TCA and Jessner acids 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. The procedure is typically done only on the face. However, at lower strengths, can sometimes be used for the back to treat acne scars.
What do chemical peels treat?
- Acne Scars
- Aging Skin
- Crow's Feet
- Skin Laxity
- Sun Damaged Skin
Who is not a candidate for a chemical peel?
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 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.
What can I expect after having a chemical peel?
- Superficial peels require 1-7 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 usually be worn the next day.
- Medium peels require 7-10 days to heal depending on the peel. Treated skin will initially be red and possibly swollen. Swelling can worsen for the first 48 hours. Eyelids may swell shut. Antiviral medication is taken for 10 to 14 days. Mild lotion or cream may be applied. Avoid all sun exposure until healing is complete. Camouflage makeup may be worn.
- Deep peels require 7 to 14 days to heal. Swelling can worsen for the first 48 hours. Eyelids may swell shut. Blisters may form and break. Skin crusts and peels off in seven to 14 days. As swelling decreases, treated skin will begin to form a crust and might darken or develop brown blotches. Treated areas develop new skin about seven to fourteen days after a deep peel, but redness might last for months. Antiviral medication is taken for 10 to 14 days. Avoid all sun exposure for three to six months. Camouflage makeup may be worn after 7-14 days. Follow-up appointments may be necessary to monitor progress.
What are my results going to be from my chemical peel?
A light chemical peel can improve skin texture and tone, as well as decrease the appearance of fine wrinkles. The results will be subtle at first, but will increase with repeated treatments. After a light chemical peel, avoid sun exposure until new skin completely covers the treated area.
If you have a medium chemical peel, treated skin will be noticeably smoother after the procedure. Your aesthetician will recommend avoiding sun exposure for several months.
After a deep chemical peel, you'll see a dramatic improvement in the look and feel of treated areas. You'll need to protect your skin from the sun permanently to prevent changes in skin color.
Keep in mind that chemical peel results might not be permanent. As you age you'll continue to acquire lines by squinting and smiling. New sun damage can also reverse your results and cause changes in your skin color.