As we age, dead skin cells do not slough off as easily as when we are younger, causing the skin to appear dull. Chemical peels are a popular nonsurgical cosmetic procedure used to peel away the skin’s top layer to improve sun-damaged, unevenly pigmented and wrinkled skin. Improving the evenness of color and texture in your skin creates a youthful look and restores a healthy, luminous and radiant appearance.
When to Consider Chemical Peels
If you have wrinkles or sun-damaged skin.
If you have skin discolorations, blotchiness or brown spots.
If you have scars that have made the surface of your skin uneven.
If you have certain precancerous skin growths.
No anesthesia or sedation is needed.
Light and medium chemical peels have minimal aftercare and recovery.
After peel, there will be sun sensitivity and pores may appear larger.
Can exacerbate skin disorders, including allergic reactions or cold sores.
Are you a good candidate for a chemical peel?
The following are some common reasons why you may want to consider a chemical peel:
You have sun-damaged skin
You have significant facial wrinkling
Your skin color is uneven with blotchiness, sunspots and brown spots
You have scars that have made the surface of your skin uneven
You have certain precancerous skin growths
Other characteristics of your skin, such as its thickness and texture, may influence whether you are a good candidate for chemical peels. If you are in good general health, have a positive attitude and realistic expectations, you are most likely a good candidate for this procedure.
How is a chemical peel procedure performed?
Most often, your treatment will be performed by a licensed skincare professional. Peels involve the application of a chemical solution to your entire face or just to certain regions, such as the crow's feet area around your eyes or the vertical wrinkles around your mouth.
The chemical solution is either applied lightly or rubbed more vigorously onto the skin being treated using a sponge, cotton pad, swab, or brush (avoiding your brows, eyes and lips). During peel application, you may experience a slight tingling. These sensations are usually minimal for light and mediumpeels. The length of time the solution is allowed to work is determined by carefully observing the changes in the appearance of your skin. With certain types of chemical peels, the solution may be "neutralized" after an appropriate amount of time has elapsed.
The different types of chemical peels vary according to their specific ingredients and their strength. The depth of their peeling action may also be determined by factors such as how long they remain on the skin and how they are applied onto the skin.
What are my options?
Your options will depend on the treatment depth you require and your surgeon will recommend an approach based upon your aesthetic goals. The amount of time you can allow for recovery may be an important factor to consider when selecting a particular chemical peel or determining the extent of treatment.
Light to Medium Peels
Glycolic (AHA) peel
Generally, the most superficial peels are those using alpha hydroxy acids (AHA), such as glycolic, lactic or fruit acid. AHA peels can reduce the effects of aging and sun damage including fine wrinkling and brown spots. Sometimes a single treatment with an AHA peel will give your skin a fresher, healthier appearance and a radiant glow. No anesthesia is needed and you will only feel a tingling or mild stinging sensation when the solution is applied. Immediately after the procedure, you generally will be able to wear makeup and you can drive yourself home or back to work. Various concentrations of an AHA may be applied weekly or at longer intervals to further improve the texture of your skin. Your skincare professional may recommend a maintenance program using AHA products that you can apply at home on a regular basis.
Trichloracetic (TCA) acid peel
A TCA peel is a stronger, medium depth peel. TCA peels are often used for the treatment of wrinkles, skin pigment changes and blemishes. Many patients can benefit from having TCA applied not only on the face but also on the neck and other parts of the body that have been exposed to the sun. For spot peeling of limited areas such as around the mouth or eyes, TCA formulas are often preferred because they have a reduced bleaching effect compared to solutions containing phenol, another popular peeling agent. Some surgeons have found TCA to be effective in treating darker-skinned patients. Milder TCA peels can be repeated frequently in order to achieve cumulative effects or TCA can be used to achieve a medium or even a deep peel, depending on the acid concentration and manner of application.
What Should I Expect?
After treatment, the skin will look fresher and have more glow. However, the best effect is achieved after three to six treatments. For the best results, we recommend a series of three to six peels, three weeks apart.
Who can do the chemical peeling?
Everyone can do regardless of skin type and age, however pregnant and breastfeeding, are advised not to take treatment.
How your treatment is performed will depend on the type of peel you are having.
Typically, with a light peel your skin will be cleansed and the peeling solution will be applied. In some cases, this is removed after a few minutes and in others you may leave the clinic with it on and remove it at home later. During the peel you should feel nothing more than a slight tingling or stinging sensation. With many superficial peels you won’t feel anything. The treatment is really quick and easy and can take as little as 20 minutes.
With Medium depth peels the skin is also thoroughly cleansed before the peeling solution is applied. In some cases, a fan is used to cool the face. The peel will then be neutralized and removed. As this is a medium depth peel expect the treatment to be more uncomfortable than a light peel. You may feel some stinging, burning and irritation.
What Should I Avoid?
It’s important that you don’t generate any additional heat during the first 48 hours. Because layers of your skin have just been exfoliated off, exposing a fresh new layer, your skin will be more susceptible to burning. Avoid exercise and hot baths. Sunscreen is a must whenever you leave the house, even if you’re only getting in and out of the car.
You should also avoid the use of harsh exfoliants or active cleansers (benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid) for 2 weeks after your treatment. Avoid topical medications such as Ziana, Atralin and Differin for 10 days following your treatment. As skin begins to flake and peel, do not pull, scrub or pick at skin.