What is a Chemical Peel?
There are many different types of chemical peels and they all work a little differently, but all are similar in this respect: a chemical solution is applied to improve the appearance of the skin by removing the damaged outer layers of skin to reveal new, regenerated skin. As a rule, the deeper the peel, the better the results but the longer the recovery time.
What Can be Treated with Chemical Peels?
Chemical peels are used to treat a variety of conditions including:
• Repair photo aging or skin damage from years of sun exposure
• Repair and remove fine wrinkles on the face including lip creases, crow’s feet and forehead lines
• Peels & removes dry flaky skin
• Reduce pigmentation and brown spots such as melasma, freckles, sun spots, age spots, and liver spots.
• Improve skin tone and texture
• Reduce scarring
• Improve acne, pimples, black heads, and clogged pores
• Treat precancerous lesions (actinic keratoses)
What Types of Peels are there?
The types of chemical peels differ based on how deeply the chemical penetrates and what type of chemical solution is used. Factors that may affect the peel include the concentration in the peeling agent, the number of coats that are applied, and the amount of time allowed before the peel is neutralized. Deeper peels result in more dramatic effects as well as higher risks, increased pain, and longer healing time.
- Superficial peels (Beta Lift Peels) are the mildest type of chemical peel and can be used on all skin types. Superficial peels usually use liquid containing a mild (dilute) acid, most often glycolic acid or salicylic acid. Typically a series (usually 4-6) superficial peels are performed every 3-4 weeks. These are called “lunch time” peels because of the quick recovery. Patients can usually return to work the next day with only a mild sunburn-like look, which is followed by fine scaling that lasts 3-5 days.
- Medium peels penetrate the skin more deeply than superficial peels. Trichloroacetic acid (TCA) is the main peeling agent used for medium peels, though the peel may also be done in several steps using a different chemical solution followed by TCA. Patients usually have redness, swelling, scaling and crusting that lasts 1-2 weeks, though makeup can be used after the first week.
- Deep peels penetrate several layers of skin and cause a second-degree burn of the skin. A chemical called phenol is usually used for a deep peel. Most dermatologist no longer perform deep peels due to the risk of scarring and significant recovery. For patients with significant wrinkles, I usually recommend laser resurfacing rather than deep peels.
What type of peels are used in your office?
We perform varying strengths of salicylic acid, glycolic acid, or trichloroacetic acid. We particular like Beta Lift Peels for Acne and Perfect Peel for Brown spots. It is important to use the proper peeling agent based upon your individual skin needs and color.
What should I expect during the treatment?
Most patients experience a warm sensation that lasts about 5-10 minutes, and they may have a stinging sensation after washing the peel off. The more aggressive the peel, the more heat and stinging there is associated with the treatment. The treatment is usually complete within 10 minutes.
What should I expect after the treatment?
There may be a mild to intense sunburn-type sensation after the peel, depending on the type and depth of the chemical used. A superficial peel usually produces redness and a very mild peeling lasting 3-5 days after the treatment. With deeper peels, the redness could last for a couple of weeks, and there will be a more intense peeling reaction. Once the peeling is complete it is safe to wear makeup.
How many sessions will I need?
Depending on the condition being treated, the color of your skin, the strength and type of peel used and your individual response to the peel, you may only need 1 peel, but more often you will require multiple sessions to get the optimal results.