Chemical peeling is a procedure used to improve the appearance of the skin. In this treatment, a solution is applied to the skin, which causes it to peel off. The new, regenerated skin is usually smoother and less pigmented than the old skin. The new skin also is temporarily more sensitive to the sun.
What Conditions Do a Chemical Peel Treat?
Chemical peels are performed on the face, neck or hands. They can be used to:
- Improve the overall look and feel of skin that is dull in texture and colour
- Treat wrinkles caused by sun damage, aging and hereditary factors.
- Treat certain types of acne
- Reduce age spots, freckles and dark patches due to pregnancy or taking birth control pills (melasma)
However, sags, bulges and more severe wrinkles do not respond well to chemical peels. They may require other kinds of cosmetic surgical procedures, such as lase resurfacing, or soft tisse filler (collagen or fat). A dermatologist can help determine the most appropriate type of treatment for each individual case
Types Of Chemical Peel Treatments That Are Commonly Offered
- Glycolic acid peels are derived from sugar cane. They are commonly performed for pigmentation and oil control.
- Salicylic acid peels tend to be used for antiinflammatory benefits in acne prone skin. They also help with superficial exfoliation of comedones (black and white heads).
- Tricholoacetic acid peels are generally used for deep exfoliation of pigment.
- Milder peel solutions like lactic acid, mandelic acid and arginine are used in conjunction with other cosmetic procedures like laser therapies, botox and fillers to enhance their effects.
How Are Chemical Peels Performed?
A chemical peel is performed in doctor’s office as an outpatient procedure.
The skin is thoroughly cleansed with an agent that removes excess oils and the eyes and hair are protected. Glycolic acid, trichloroacetic acid, salicylic acid, lactic acid or carbolic acid (phenol), are applied to the skin. These applications produce a controlled wound, enabling new, regenerated skin to appear
Preparing for a Chemical Peel
Prior to the chemical peel, your doctor may ask you to stop taking certain drugs and prepare your skin with topical preconditioning medications such as retenoids or glycolic acid. After the chemical peel, it’s important to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen every day.
If you have been prescribed oral antibiotics or an oral antiviral medicine, you should begin taking those as directed. Typically, the oral antibiotics are prescribed depending on the depth of the chemical peel.
What to Expect During The Procedure
During the procedure, most patients experience a warm to somewhat hot sensation that lasts about five to ten minutes, followed by a stinging sensation. Cool compresses may be applied to help alleviate this stinging. A deeper peel may require pain medication during or after the procedure.