What is 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 following basic types of chemical peels:
Superficial or lunchtime peel or Light Chemical Peel
The solution used for light chemical peels is usually comprised of alphahydroxy acids (AHAs), such as glycolic, lactic, salicylic, or fruit acids, used to penetrate only the outer layer of skin to gently exfoliate it. Light chemical peels are ideal for people who want the benefits of a facial peel but do not wish to spend the time required to recover from a deeper peel.
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 Chemical peel
Glycolic or trichloroacetic acid 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.
Similar to the light chemical peel, medium chemical peels require less downtime than a deeper peel. TCA peels are the preferred choice for patients with darker skin.
Deep Chemical peel
Deep chemical peels are the strongest of the facial peels. 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.
The procedure takes longer than other peels (one to two hours) and requires the most healing time. Phenol acid is typically used only for facial peels. Because a deep chemical peel may cause permanent lightening of the skin, prospective patients should seek advice from a qualified cosmetic dermatologist before undergoing the procedure.
Acne Chemical Peel
Certain chemical peel solutions are useful for treating acne blemishes and diminishing existing acne scars. Light chemical peels administered with a solution of alphahydroxy acids (AHA) can be beneficial for treating acne. A lower-strength AHA solution can be mixed with a facial wash as part of a daily skin-care routine.
An ideal candidate for a chemical peel is in good physical health, understands the procedure, and has realistic expectations of the outcome. You are likely to be pleased with the results of a chemical peel if your goal is to alleviate acne, smooth wrinkles, improve skin texture, eliminate age spots, or reduce the effects of sun damage. The different types of chemical peels come in varying strengths and provide different levels of treatment. Ask your doctor which chemical peel is best for your skin type and needs.
Patients are urged not to smoke for a few weeks before and after a chemical peel. The best outcomes will be achieved in patients who are not taking the acne medication Accutane®, have not taken it for the previous year and a half, and who are free of active skin infections. Also, if you have large or unusual scar formations, such as keloids, your doctor may recommend a different treatment for you. Patients who have a family history of heart problems are not considered good candidates for the deep chemical peel procedure.
The cost of chemical facial peels varies from doctor to doctor. The current chemical peel price range is approximately $600 to $900. Possible additional expenses to keep in mind, especially with deep chemical peels, are the cost of anesthesia, use of the surgical facility, and a possible hospital stay. The final cost of your procedure will depend on the type of peel you want, the condition of your skin, and other factors unique to your case. Light chemical peels cost less than deep chemical peels.
Risks associated with Chemical Peels
Chemical peels rarely result in serious complications, but certain risks do exist. These risks include scarring, infection, swelling, changes in skin tone, and cold sore outbreaks. You can reduce the risks associated with facial peels by following all of the doctor’s instructions completely and by providing your doctor with a complete medical history.
Benefits of Chemical Peels
A chemical facial peel can provide several benefits to the skin. The procedure can restore a more youthful appearance to skin and reduce wrinkles, uneven pigmentation, sun-damage, and blotchy patches.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the procedure of a chemical skin peel?
The chemical peel is administered in a surgery center or hospital by a certified and trained cosmetic dermatologist or plastic surgeon.
The patient’s skin is cleansed and, if necessary, a topical anesthetic is applied to the treatment area. The doctor then applies the chemical peel solution. This solution is formulated according to each patient’s specific needs and goals. It is common for the patient to feel a tingling or stinging sensation as the chemical peel solution is applied.
After the skin peel solution has been on the skin for the prescribed amount of time, it is washed off with water. A soothing ointment is then applied; a thick coating of petroleum jelly is often used after deep chemical peels.
The instructions are than provided to the patient on aftercare, and the doctor may also prescribe a mild pain reliever for discomfort after the procedure, especially if a deep chemical peel was administered.
Depending on the patient’s skin condition and the depth of the chemical peel, multiple treatments may be necessary to achieve the desired results.
Can chemical peels be performed on areas other than the face?
Though deep (phenol) peels are only appropriate for the face, the skin on any part of the body can be treated with a special mix of the chemicals used in mild and medium skin peels.
The chemical solution for body chemical peels is typically comprised of a combination of trichloroacetic acid (the main ingredient in a medium-depth skin peel) and glycolic acid (the main ingredient of a mild peel). The solution for body chemical peels is typically formulated to be slightly stronger than the chemical solution used for light or medium facial skin peels, though it is milder than the phenol solution used for deep skin peels.
As with facial chemical peels, body peels address the effects of sun damage, even out skin pigmentation, and improve skin texture. Chemical peels can also be used on the body to minimize stretch marks.
Will I be given anesthesia during a chemical peel?
A local anesthetic in combination with mild or full sedation is typically used for deep chemical peels. For light and medium skin peels, no anesthetic or sedation is necessary, though a local anesthetic or mild sedation can be provided on patient’s request to alleviate discomfort.
Are chemical peels painful?
In general, patients only feel a mild stinging sensation during light or medium chemical peels. After the procedure, the physician may prescribe a mild pain reliever to relieve any discomfort.
What is the average downtime for skin peel?
The recovery time after a chemical peel depends on the type of peel administered, because each type of peel affects the skin to a different degree.
Light chemical peels: These mild peels require virtually no recovery time. Though the skin may be mildly irritated after the peel, patients can return to their daily activities immediately after treatment.
Medium chemical peels: The new layer of skin appears three to seven days after treatment. About two weeks after treatment, the skin will be fully healed.
Deep chemical peels: The new layer of skin begins to appear seven to ten days after treatment, though complete healing can take two months or longer. Patients typically take a week off from work after undergoing a deep chemical peel.
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Can we perform deep chemical peel for a person with dark skin?
Deep chemical peels change the actual pigmentation of the skin through bleaching. Because of this, patients with naturally darker complexions may be better candidates for microdermabrasion.
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