Chemical Peels have been used for over 100 years to create an even and controlled shedding of damaged skin cells. Each year thousands of chemical peels are performed in the United States. A chemical peel uses a solution applied to the skin to remove dead skin cells and stimulate the production of new skin cells. It tightens the skin, reduces wrinkling and restores a more youthful appearance.
During your consultation with your provider you will want to explain the level of skin improvement you hope to achieve. Your provider will then review your medical history and examine your skin type and pigmentation to determine if you are a good candidate for a chemical peel. Together you can evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of the different types of chemical peels, discuss your options, your expectations and determine the best treatment for you.
Don't forget to mention any history of viral infections, sensitivity to the sun, or prior skin treatments such as dermabrasion or Accutane treatments within the past six months.
What is the treatment like?
Unlike laser peels, chemical peels can be performed in the face, neck, chest, hands and even the arms and legs.
Most chemical peels are performed as outpatient procedures in the doctor's office or surgical suite. Depending on your skin type and the desired results, your physician may recommend a superficial, medium, or deep chemical peel. Your surgeon will select the proper chemical or mix of chemicals (glycolic acid, beta lift, TCA or trichloroacetic acid, or carbolic acid) and apply the solution to various areas of the skin.
Once applied, the chemical produces a separation and peeling of the outer layers of the skin. This stimulates the production of new skin from beneath.
Most patients experience a warm to hot sensation which may last as long as ten minutes, followed by a stinging sensation. For deeper peels, some patients require anesthesia.
What should you expect after treatment?
Reactions to chemical peels are similar to a sunburn and range from mild to more pronounced. Generally, the deeper the peel, the longer the recovery.
A light peel usually results in some redness, and possibly some scaling for a few days. Medium and deep peels can result in swelling and blisters that break open forming a crust and turning brown, followed by peeling which can last up to two weeks. These peels may require dressings on some or all of the treated skin. Dressings are usually removed after a day or two. Ointments and creams will be applied to keep the skin moist. At first the new skin will have the color of a significant sunburn. This will gradually fade to pink over the next several weeks. Cosmetics can be applied after about two weeks. Following a chemical peel, your new skin will be tighter, smoother and may be slightly lighter than it was before the procedure.
Following any skin peel, it is important that you avoid any exposure to the sun. Your new skin is very sensitive and susceptible to injury. Always apply a wide spectrum (UVA and UVB blocking) sunblock of at least SPF 15 twenty minutes before you go outside. Your provider will prescribe a proper home skin-care treatment program to ensure proper healing.