What are chemical peels?
What are the different types of chemical peels and what are they used to treat?
There are a variety of chemical peels that can be used to safely rejuvenate your skin. These range from superficial formulations to deep peels that should only be administered by an experienced doctor in a controlled setting.
Superficial peels generally consist of alpha hydroxyl acids (AHA), which include naturally occurring fruit acids, such as glycolic, lactic, citric, tartaric, and malic acids.
These are often used to improve photo-aging from mild sun damage, acne scars, or fine wrinkles in all skin types. They can be applied to the face or on other parts of the body. A superficial peel can also be used to prepare the skin for a deeper peel.
Medium peels are typically accomplished with the use of trichloroacetic acid (TCA). The degree and depth of application, as well as the concentration of trichloroacetic acid used (up to 35%) can be customized depending on your skin condition.
Another type of medium chemical peel is the Jessner peel, which is designed to cause a higher degree of skin resurfacing than an AHA peel. Jessner peels are made of salicylic acid, lactic acid, as well as resorcinol.
Medium peels are used to treat mild to moderate wrinkles, photo-aging from long-term sun damage, hyperpigmentation, acne, as well as precancerous skin lesions typically caused by sun exposure. Such peels are generally applied to the face.
Deep peels are the most aggressive type of chemical peels that penetrate several layers of skin to produce skin rejuvenation from within. A phenol peel is a type of deep peel that uses carbolic acid, the strongest type of peeling agent available, to treat the skin. This allows for the production of new collagen at a faster rate as compared to other peels.
Given the nature of the active ingredients contained, deep peels are used only on the face.
Deep peels are most effective for treating severe wrinkles, pronounced pigmentation spots, as well as lesions or growths on the skin.
What can I expect during the procedure?
Procedures may vary depending on the type of chemical peel applied.
An experienced therapist will cleanse your skin, followed by the application of a medical degreaser to ensure that the treatment area is free of any oils. The chemical agent is then applied and left on the treatment area for a controlled amount of time, after which your skin is cleansed with cold water or a neutralizing agent to stop further chemical reactions.
For light and medium chemical peels, most patients tend to feel a mild prickly sensation, but this is temporary and subsides within a few minutes. For deep peels, a local anaesthetic will be applied to the treatment area to make your experience as comfortable as possible.
How do I take care of my skin after the procedure?
After a chemical peel of any depth, patients must take care to avoid exposure to the sun, as well as refrain from peeling or picking at flaking skin. The cleansing of the treatment area should be done with mild cleansers, with liberal applications of moisturizers and sunscreen to speed up the healing process.
Patients should schedule a review with Dr. Kok 1 month after the treatment.
How long do the results last?
Results vary depending on the depth of the peel chosen.
Are there any risks or downtime?
After most chemical peels, patients may experience a slight stinging sensation, as well as dryness, peeling, or redness a few days after the peel. The stronger the chemical peel, the longer the downtime.
For superficial peels, there is often little to no downtime. Patients might experience slight redness after the peel, but this should subside after a few hours. You will be able to resume your daily activities immediately.
For medium peels, patients will most likely experience skin peeling that lasts about a week.
After deep peels, patients will most likely experience redness, pain, and raw sensations, which could require pain medication to ease the healing process. While new layers of skin tend to surface 7 – 10 days after treatment, complete healing will take about 2 months or longer.
Deep peels should not be used on patients with darker skin tones as they tend to bleach the skin. Other side effects of deep peels include permanently bleached skin that is much lighter than other areas of the skin or scarring, especially if the skin does not heal correctly.
At LS Aesthetic, we do not offer deep chemical peels as the complications tend to outweigh the benefits. There are safer and better treatment alternatives for this.
Am I suited for a chemical peel?
Most patients who wish to treat their acne, photodamaged skin or remove their fine wrinkles are generally suited for chemical peels. However, it is advisable to give Dr. Kok your accurate medical history, such as existing cardiac, liver, or diabetic conditions as this will affect the choice of chemical peeling agent used. Based on your medical history and his assessment of your skin condition, Dr. Kok will advise the appropriate combination of chemical peels best suited for you.
To better prep your skin for your chemical peel, it is best to use an exfoliative agent, such as tretinoin cream, to facilitate the uniform penetration of the peeling agent and promote more rapid growth of new skin.
Chemical peels should be avoided if you have any of the following conditions:
- Extremely sensitive or sunburnt skin
- Active herpes infections
- Usage of Accutane within the past year
- Pregnant or breastfeeding women
- Aspirin allergies
- History of radiation therapy or autoimmune diseases
For other types of acne treatments that may be suitable for you, click here.
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