What is a chemical peel?
A chemical peel is a procedure performed to remove fine lines and to achieve better skin tone and especially on the face. It functions by removing the outer layers of skin which are damaged by age, sun, acne, wrinkles, or pigmentation problems. This will allow the body to generate a new layer of skin cells.
What concerns can a chemical peel help treat?
- Minimize facial wrinkles and lines
- Treat sun-damaged skin
- Reduce age spots and pigmentation problems
- Treat scars (especially from acne)
- Treat precancerous lesions
Is a chemical peel treatment right for me?
It is important to note that prior to undergoing a chemical peel any active skin disease, infection, or acne needs to be under control. Various types of chemical solutions exist which can be used, ranging from a mild solution to a strong. The strength of the solution will be selected by the surgeon depending on what is best for the patient based on their skin condition, color, and desired result.
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How does a chemical peel treatment work?
First, the skin is cleansed of oils. A solution is carefully applied to remove the layers of damaged skin. The skin will turn white. It is then. neutralized and cleansed. In the end, an ointment is applied to the skin to aid in healing.
Recovery From Your Chemical Peel Treatment
Rest and limited mobility are recommended to accelerate the healing process and reduce recovery time. The skin will appear to have a pinkish color, and a thin crust may form over the treated area. Patients may report pain following surgery which can be treated with oral medication. Although the occurrence of complications is rare, patients can reduce the risk of developing potential problems by carefully following the post-operative instructions.
What are the types of chemical peels?
The different types of chemical peels are categorized by how aggressive the peeling agent is. Here are some thoughts on chemical peels, as Dr. Lin at Boston Plastic Surgery feels the risks involved with deep peels outweigh the benefits for our patients.
Light chemical peels
Light chemical peels are perfect for exfoliating just the outermost layer of the epidermis, removing dead and damaged skin cells and creating a healthy glow. Light peels are good for acne, dry skin, and fine wrinkling.
There will be some minor redness and irritation from your first few light peels, but as your skin becomes healthier, this won’t happen with future light peels. Light peels can be done on a regular basis to keep your skin glowing.
Medium chemical peels
Medium peels can address acne scars, deeper wrinkles, and uneven skin pigmentation. The trichloroacetic acid used in a medium chemical peel penetrates more deeply, past the epidermis into the upper part of the dermis (the middle layer of the skin).
Medium peels leave your skin red and stinging and will cause some crusting. That redness can linger for a period of weeks. Medium peels may be repeated quarterly, but not more often than that.
How should I prepare for a chemical peel?
Prior to coming to offices for your peel, you cannot have microdermabrasion done for at least two weeks prior. Also, no depilatory hair removal treatments or waxing for at least a week prior to your peel. Same goes for any injectables, such as Botox.
It’s important to stay out of the sun for at least 10 days before your peel.
Discuss this prior to your peel, but you’ll need to stop taking certain medications for a period of time before your peel, as they can interact with the peeling agents. These are most commonly photosynthesizing drugs, which increase sensitivity to sunlight. They include anti-inflammatory medications, antihistamines, antimicrobials, certain contraceptives, and other medications.
If you’re on the acne medication isotretinoin, you’ll need to have completed your treatment for at least six months prior to having a chemical peel.
How do chemical peels work to improve my skin?
The peeling agent is applied to your skin and allowed to stay on it for a predetermined amount of time. The peeling agent penetrates the skin and breaks the bonds that hold each layer together. Some of the skin is removed immediately; more cells flake and fall off over the next few days. Our peels do not feature aggressive peeling or crusting, however, so there isn’t an involved recovery period. It is the forced exfoliation created by the peel that exposes the fresh skin cells beneath and then initiates the production of new, undamaged skin cells.
How do chemical peels compare to laser skin resurfacing?
Chemical peels and laser skin resurfacing have similar goals — to remove old, damaged skin cells and create new skin cells in their place. But laser resurfacing is typically more aggressive. This is especially true of our CO2 fractional resurfacing, where the laser energy creates hundreds of microscopic channels through the outer epidermis into the dermis layer beneath. This triggers the classic wound-healing mechanisms in the body that create production of new amounts of collagen and elastin. These improve the skin over the following weeks and months. Fractional CO2 laser resurfacing requires some recovery.
Chemical peels work on a more superficial level. They break down the connections that hold skin cells in place, allowing the body to slough off the outer layer of damaged, old skin cells. They also work to remove excess oils and other impurities on the skin. Our light and medium chemical peels are less aggressive than laser skin resurfacing, so they can’t deliver the same degree of skin improvement, but they also don’t require any recovery time.
How long will my chemical peel appointment take?
Chemical peels can take from 30 to 60 minutes, depending on the type of peel you’re having. This includes cleansing your facial skin prior to your peel and applying calming moisturizer afterwards.
How long can I expect my results to last?
The exfoliation and skin cell regeneration achieved with our chemical peels is permanent. Obviously, shed skin cells and rebuilt areas of new skin are permanent improvements in your skin. But your skin completely turns over about every 27 days (this cycle slows as we age), so you’re continually dealing with new skin.
How long you can enjoy your refreshed, rejuvenated skin is up to you, to a degree. Protect it from sun damage and keep it moisturized and you’ll enjoy the improvements for weeks with medium peels.
How often can I get a chemical peel?
There are limitations on the frequency you can have chemical peels, depending on the peeling agent.
- Superficial peels have no limitations. Patients often come in once a month for these peels to keep boosting their skin cell turnover.
- Medium peels can only be done quarterly.
- Deep peels are a once-in-a-lifetime event.