Uses for Chemical Peels
Learn more about specific conditions where chemical peels can be used
What is a chemical peel?
A chemical peel is a technique used to improve the appearance of the skin on the face, neck or hands. A chemical solution is applied to the skin that causes it to exfoliate and eventually peel off. The new, regenerated skin is usually smoother and less wrinkled than the old skin. The new skin is also temporarily more sensitive to the sun. There are three basic types of chemical peels:
Superficial or lunchtime peel: Alpha-hydroxy acid or another mild acid is used to penetrate only the outer layer of skin to gently exfoliate it. The treatment is used to improve the appearance of mild skin discoloration and rough skin as well as to refresh the face, neck, chest or hands.
Medium peel: Glycolic or trichloroacetic acid is applied to penetrate the out and middle layers of skin to remove damaged skin cells. The treatment is used to improve age spots, fine lines and wrinkles, freckles and moderate skin discoloration. It also can be used to smooth rough skin and treat some precancerous skin growths, i.e. actinic keratosis.
Deep peel: Tricholoracetic acid or phenol is applied to deeply penetrate the middle layer of skin to remove damaged skin cells. The treatment removes moderate lines, age spots, freckles and shallow scars. Patients will see a dramatic improvement in skin appearance. The procedure is used on the face and only can be performed once.
What should first be done before considering a chemical peel?
A thorough evaluation by a dermatologic surgeon is imperative before embarking upon a chemical peel.
When is a chemical peel appropriate?
Chemical peels are used to treat a number of conditions including:
Who is not a candidate for a chemical peel?
Generally light-haired and fair skinned people are the best candidates for chemical peel. The procedure does not work as well on dark-skinned patients. The procedure is not recommended for individuals with infections, active skin disease, cut or broken skin, sunburns or active Herpes simplex 1 sores. Other counter-indications include patients who are:
Are chemical peels painful?
Chemicals peels sting but do not cause a great deal of pain. The gentlest peels use alpha-hydroxy, glycolic, lactic or fruit acids are also gentle. They may cause stinging, redness, irritation and crusting but as the skin begins to adjust all these problems will lessen.
Trichloroacetic acids are used for stronger peelings. They remove wrinkles, superficial blemishes and pigment problems. Phenol is the strongest of all treatments and removes deep lines and wrinkles on the face. These type of treatments sting more than those with the gentler acids. After the treatment there may be redness, swelling and irritation but the use of creams and gels will reduce these effects. Also the doctor may prescribe medicines that will help relieve the problems after the peel.
What are the complications or potential side effects of a chemical peel?
What can I expect after having a chemical peel?
All peels require some follow-up care:
Sun exposure and smoking after a chemical peel must be avoided because they can cause unwanted side effects, including infection and scarring.