Chemical peels are treatments that use an acid solution to improve and smooth the texture of the facial skin by removing its damaged outer layers. This causes controlled damage at various levels, both superficially and deep for dermal structure renewal. Although chemical peels are used mostly on the face, they can also be used to improve the skin on your neck and hands. Chemical peels are one of the least invasive ways to improve the appearance of the skin.
The classification of chemical peel agents is based on depth of penetration:
- Deep (Deep peels typically require anesthesia)
Superficial chemical peels include:
- Glycolic acid
Medium depth peels include:
- Trichloracetic acid
Glycolic chemical peels are light chemical peels that might be the right choice for patients with uneven pigment, dryness or skin aging.
Glycolic acid peels are uniquely suited in all skin types for acne and superficial acne scarring, rosacea, pigmentary disorders, melasma, actinic keratosis and warts. Actinic keratosis and warts require the highest concentrations of glycolic acid peels in order to be effective. In addition, mild to moderate photo aging and photo damage can be improved with these peels, especially fine lines and wrinkles, texture changes and skin tone improvements. These peels should be performed in a gradual step up program to ensure that the patient does not have any side effects with the peel. Three to six treatments are recommended which should be spaced out every four weeks.
Patients who do not protect themselves from the sun and visit tanning salons frequently are not candidates for chemical peels. Individuals who pick at their skin, have open lesions or an active infection are also not candidates for these peels.
Chemical peels will not treat deep facial lines, tighten loose or sagging skin, remove broken capillaries, change pore size or remove deep scars.
Recovery, Risks and Results
It is important that you find a provider who has adequate training and experience in chemical peels. During your initial consultation, it is important that you discuss your expectations with your provider. He or she will explain the planned procedure in detail, including its risks and benefits, what the recovery period will be and the costs.
Glycolic chemical peel risks include:
- Herpes Simplex Virus (cold sore outbreaks)
Redness, stinging, skin flaking and irritation is to be expected after a light chemical peel. Peeling usually involves redness followed by scaling that ends within three to seven days. After repeated treatments, these side effects will likely subside. You’ll need to avoid the sun for several days after a chemical peel since your skin will be new and fragile. Sun block is required after the procedure.
Improvements from your chemical peels will be subtle at first but you will have a noticeably healthier glow to your skin. With continued treatments, you will notice a general improvement in the texture of your skin.