Chemical Peels

Chemical Peel is a very popular non-surgical cosmetic procedure that treats sun-damaged, unevenly pigmented, and finely wrinkled skin. The procedure is meant to diminish skin imperfections and signs of aging.

The treatment area is covered with a chemical solution which causes the outer layers of skin to separate and peel off, revealing newer, smoother, and younger looking skin. If you are looking into skin rejuvenation options, you may want to consider a chemical peel treatment. Chemical Peel Benefits Skin peeling treatments are used to improve the texture and appearance of skin.

A chemical peel can: Reduce fine lines and wrinkles, especially under the eyes and around the mouth Diminish skin discoloration (age spots, sun spots, liver spots, freckles, blotchiness) Treat mild scarring and some types of acne Improve and renew skin texture and color Treatment Areas The face is the most common treatment area, but other body areas with skin damage, including the neck, chest, hands, arms, and legs, may be treated with a superficial or medium chemical peel.

A deep chemical peel can only be used as a facial treatment. Types of Chemical Peels There are several types of chemical peels which vary according to their specific ingredients and strength. The amount of skin removed is not only determined by the peeling agent (classified as superficial, medium, or deep), but by the concentration of the solution, the amount applied, and the length of time the solution remains on the skin.

The doctor will recommend the best chemical mix for each patient based on the type of skin damage and the desired results. AHA Chemical Peels – Superficial Peel The most superficial chemical peels are those that contain Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA) as the peeling agent, such as glycolic acid or lactic acid.

AHA chemical peels may require multiple treatments to get the best results, but even a single treatment can give skin a healthier, more radiant appearance. AHA may cause skin redness, mild skin irritation, and skin dryness. Milder concentrations of AHA are often found in facial cleansers or creams and can be included in a daily skin-care regimen to improve skin condition.

AHA chemical peels are usually performed in the doctor’s office. Although the patient may feel a mild tingling or stinging sensation when solution is applied, the procedure is virtually painless and does not require anesthesia. An oral pain pill (such as Tylenol with codeine) may be appropriate if requested by the patient.

Benefits of AHA chemical peels include: Short, safe procedure Does not require anesthesia or sedation Virtually painless, only mild tingling or stinging sensation Skin does not need to be covered with ointment after treatment No recovery time needed – patient can resume normal activities Treats fine wrinkles, rough skin, dry skin, uneven pigmentation, acne, sun-damaged skin TCA Chemical Peels – Medium Peel Chemical peels using trichloroacetic acid (TCA) are a considered a medium peeling agent – stronger than AHA but not as strong as a phenol peel. Before having a TCA chemical peel, it may be necessary to pre-treat the skin with AHA or Retin-A creams.

After treatment, a patient may need several days of restricted activity depending on the depth of the peel, and sunblock must be used for at least several months. A repeat treatment may be required to maintain results. The procedure may be performed either in the doctor’s office or an outpatient surgery center.

A TCA peel is somewhat more painful than a AHA peel, so the patient is often given both a tranquilizer (such as Valium) and a pain pill. The patient will feel a warm or burning sensation when the peeling agent is applied, but anesthesia is usually not required as the solution itself numbs the skin.

Benefits of TCA chemical peels include:Short, safe procedureDoes not usually require anesthesiaEffective in treating darker-skinned patientsSkin does not need to be covered with ointment after treatmentRecovery time is generally shorter than with a deep (phenol) peelTreats fine surface wrinkles, superficial blemishes, skin discolorationPhenol Chemical Peel – Deep Skin PeelA phenol chemical peel is the strongest and deepest of chemical peels.

With just a single treatment, the improvements in a patient’s skin can be quite dramatic and long-lasting. Although the results can be impressive, the procedure is more involved and painful than either a AHA or TCA chemical peel and poses many other considerations for a patient as well.

A deep skin chemical peel is a serious procedure and should only be performed by a qualified dermatologist or plastic surgeon. Treatment involves applying the peeling agent and letting it set for a short while, then applying water to neutralize the chemical solution.

After about an hour, a thick layer of petroleum jelly is applied to the skin. This is kept on for 1 to 2 days. In some cases, strips of surgical tape may be used to cover the face. A deep chemical skin peel is quite painful and usually performed under general anesthesia.

After the procedure, pain medication can help control the discomfort. Normal activities can usually be resumed after 1 to 2 weeks, but it takes several months for the skin to heal. The skin will remain sensitive to sunlight and will require sun-protection and use of sun-block for life.

Benefits of a deep chemical peel include:Long-lasting results, seen even up to 20 years Dramatic improvements in skin appearance Can correct skin discoloration caused by sun exposure or aging Can smooth out coarse deep wrinkles Treatment to remove pre-cancerous growths.

Other considerations of a deep chemical peel: Risk of infection, delayed healing, undesirable skin color change or scarring May cause persistent skin redness which can last for several months Precautions necessary for patients with a history of cold sores, fever blisters, or keloids May pose a risk for patients with heart problems Increased risk of pigmentation discoloration with birth control pills, previous pregnancy, or family history of brownish facial discoloration May reduce ability to produce pigment, causing permanent skin lightening and inability to tan properly Cannot be used on the neck or other parts of the body Not as effective on patients with dark, oily complexions Requires increased sun protection for life Skin Protection – Sun Protection To protect the skin from sun damage, both before and after a chemical peel, dermatologists and plastic surgeons recommend the daily use of a sunscreen that blocks both ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B rays. Sunblock is especially important after a deep skin chemical peel.