A chemical peel is one of the most cost-effective ways to improve the appearance of your skin. The procedure uses a chemical solution to improve the texture and tone of your skin by removing the damaged outer layers. Although chemical peels are used mostly on the face, they can also be used to improve the skin on your neck and hands.
Why You May Want to Consider a Chemical Peel?
- If you have acne or acne scars
- If you have fine lines and wrinkles
- If you have irregular skin pigmentation
- If you have rough skin and scaly patches
- If you have certain scars
- If you have sun-damaged skin
- If you have blotchy skin
- If you have pre-cancerous growths
- Treats deep facial lines or wrinkles
- Significantly tightens loose or sagging skin
- Improves the appearance of scars
What Makes You a Good Candidate for a Chemical Peel?
- You have a history of abnormal skin scarring
- You have a naturally dark complexion or skin tone
- You have a tendency to have extra pigmentation of your scars
- You have acne
How Should You Prepare for Treatment?
You may need to use of a retinoic acid cream or gel (a prescription medication that’s derived from vitamin A) to thin out the skin’s surface layer, allowing the chemical solution to penetrate more evenly and deeply. A deep chemical peel usually involves some sort of pretreatment for up to eight weeks. This will prepare your skin for the peel and speed the healing process.
How is Treatment Performed?
There are three types of chemical peels and the treatment varies slightly.
If you are getting a light chemical peel
- Your face will be cleansed.
- The chemical solution is brushed onto your skin and left on for a few minutes. You may feel some mild stinging.
- The chemical peel is then washed off and neutralized.
If you are getting a medium chemical peel
- Your face will be cleansed.
- The chemical solution is brushed onto your skin and left for just a few minutes. You may feel some burning or stinging.
- The treated area may turn a whitish-grey color.
- The chemicals are neutralized with a cool saline compress.
- Your skin may turn red or brown in the days just after the peel. The peeling process typically starts within 48 hours and lasts for a week. It is important to keep the skin well moisturized during the peeling process.
If you are getting a deep chemical peel
- You will be given a sedative to relax along with a local anesthetic to numb your face. Your face will go through a stepwise cleansing process.
- Phenol is brushed onto the area after an appropriate time interval.
- The chemical is neutralized with water.
- A thick coat of ointment is smoothed over your skin, to prevent dryness and pain. The ointment must stay in place. Sometimes your surgeon will cover your skin with strips of tape or medicated gauze rather than ointment.
What Will Recovery Involve?
Recovery can vary depending on the type of peel you receive.
Light chemical peel recovery:
You are likely to experience some redness, stinging, skin flaking, and irritation from a light chemical peel. After repeated treatments, these will likely subside.
Medium chemical peel recovery:
When trichloroacetic acid is used in a medium chemical peel, you’ll experience some redness, stinging, and flaking of the skin. Commonly, symptoms are similar to those of a deep sunburn. Although these chemicals won’t bleach your skin, you may see some color changes. Avoid the sun and use sunblock for several months to protect that fresh new layer of skin.
Deep chemical peel recovery:
Results are dramatic, but recovery takes the longest. You will experience peeling, crusting, skin redness, and discomfort for several days to weeks. You will be prescribed painkillers to keep you comfortable. Although the swelling is likely to disappear in about two weeks, your skin may remain red for up to three months. Patients typically can return to work and some of their normal activities two weeks after treatment.
How Long Will the Results Last?
One treatment with a deep chemical peel will produce long-lasting and dramatic results that can last up to 10 years. With light and medium peels, you will notice subtle improvements at first, but that healthy glow will increase with more treatments. Your skin will be noticeably smoother and fresher-looking.