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Chemical Peels

Chemical peel uses a chemical solution to improve and smooth the texture of the facial skin by removing its damaged outer layers. It is helpful for those individuals with facial blemishes, wrinkles and uneven skin pigmentation.Although chemical peels are used mostly on the face, they can also be used to improve the skin on your neck and hands. Sun exposure, acne or just getting older can leave your skin tone uneven, wrinkled, spotted or scarred.

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. Chemical peel is most commonly performed for cosmetic reasons and is one of the most cost-effective ways to improve the appearance of your skin. It helps to enhance your appearance and your self-confidence. Chemical peel may also soften acne facial scars and even control acne.

The potential result of the chemical peel depends on the type of chemical and technique used.

What a chemical peel can improve

  • Acne or acne scars
  • Fine lines and wrinkles
  • Irregular skin pigmentation
  • Rough skin and scaly patches
  • Certain scars
  • Sun-damaged skin

What a chemical peel can’t do

  • Treat deep facial lines or wrinkles
  • Significantly tighten loose or sagging skin
  • Remove deep scars

Who would benefit from chemical peel?

Generally people with type 1 & 2 (fair skinned) are the best candidates for a deep or medium chemical peel. The procedure does not work as well on dark-skinned patients. The colored skin is best helped with superficial chemical peels.

Who are not candidates for chemical peel?

Chemical peels should also not be in patients having infections, active skin diseases, injured skin, sunburns, or patients, who are pregnant or nursing or those people who have used the medication Isotretinoin in the last six months. Also patients who have used retinoic acid, glycolic acid, ascorbic acid containing prescription products or skin lightening products in the last two days.

Chemical Peel Procedure

Chemical peel is usually performed at the doctor’s clinic. It’s an outpatient procedure, meaning there’s no hospital stay involved.

The doctor will first clean your skin thoroughly. Then he or she will apply one or more chemical solutions — such as glycolic acid, salicylic acid, lactic acid,etc. — to small areas of your skin. That creates a controlled wound, letting new skin take its place.

During a chemical peel, most people feel a burning sensation that lasts about five to ten minutes, followed by a stinging sensation. Putting cool compresses on the skin may ease that stinging. You may need pain medication during or after a deeper peel.

Chemical peel being performed

Types of Chemical Peel

Chemical peel can be classified based upon the chemical used or the depth of penetration of the peel in the skin.

Superficial or Lunchtime Peel: These are mildest of the peels and usually contain salicylic acid, lactic acid low concentration glycolic acid etc. These peels 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.

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 usually be worn the next day.

Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid. It is antibacterial and anti-inflammatory and, as a result, works well for acne. Salicylic acid also has the ability to reduce the spots and bumps associated with acne. Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) are naturally occurring carboxylic acids such as glycolic acid, a natural constituent of sugar cane juice and lactic acid, found in sour milk and tomato juice. This is the mildest of the peel formulas and produces light peels for treatment of fine wrinkles, areas of dryness, uneven pigmentation and acne.

Medium Peel: Higher concentration of 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, i.e. actinic keratosis. These peels require seven to 14 days to heal. Treated skin will initially be red and swollen. Swelling worsens for the first 48 hours. Eyelids may swell shut. Blisters may form and break. Skin crusts initially and peels off in seven to 14 days. Skin must be soaked daily for a specified period, followed by ointment application. 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 after five to seven days. A follow-up appointment will be necessary to monitor progress.

Deep Peel: Tricholoracetic 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. The procedure is used on the face and only can be performed once.Deep peels require 14 to 21 days to heal. The treated area will be bandaged. Skin must be soaked four to six times daily, followed by ointment application for the first 14 days. Afterwards a thick moisturizer is applied for the next 14 days. Antiviral medication is taken for 10 to 14 days. Mild lotion or cream may be applied. Avoid all sun exposure for three to six months. Camouflage makeup may be worn after 14 days. Several follow-up appointments will be necessary to monitor progress.

Are Chemical Peels Painful?

Chemicals peels sting but do not cause a great deal of pain. The gentlest peels use alpha and beta –hydroxy acids- glycolic, lactic or fruit acids or salicylic acids which are gentle. They may cause stinging, redness, irritation and rarely crusting but as the skin begins to adjust all these problems will lessen.

Trichloroacetic acids 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 types 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. Also the doctor may prescribe medicines that will help relieve the problems after the peel. These kind of peels are not used on type 3-6 skins (colored skin)

Complications of Chemical Peels

Choosing the patients correctly and using appropriate chemicals for peeling makes chemical peel a very safe procedure.

However some skin types are more likely to develop a temporary or permanent color change in the skin after a chemical peel. Specially of the patient is taking birth control pills, subsequent pregnancy, or a family history of brownish discoloration on the face may make that more likely.

When deep peels are used here is a low risk of scarring in certain areas of the face. Some people may be more likely to scar. If scarring does happen, it can usually be treated with good results.