A chemical peel is a body treatment technique used to improve and smooth the texture of the facial skin using a chemical solution that causes the dead skin to slough off and eventually peel off. The regenerated skin is usually smoother and less wrinkled than the old skin. Thus the term chemical peel is derived. Some types of chemical peels can be purchased and administered without a medical license, however people are advised to seek professional help from a dermatologist, aesthetician, plastic surgeon, or otolaryngologist on a specific type of chemical peel before a procedure is performed.
In a chemical peel, a chemical solution is applied to the skin and allowed to soak in. Over the next 1 to 14 days, depending on how deeply the chemical penetrated the skin, the skin peels off. This procedure destroys parts of the skin in a controlled way so that new skin can grow in its place. The chemicals used are sometimes called exfoliating or wounding agents.
The types of chemical peels differ based on how deeply the chemical penetrates and what type of chemical solution is used. Factors that may affect the depth of a peel include the acid concentration in the peeling agent, the number of coats that are applied, and the amount of time allowed before the acid is neutralized. Deeper peels result in more dramatic effects as well as higher risks, increased pain, and longer healing time. There are three basic types of peels:
· Superficial peels are the mildest type of chemical peel and can be used on all skin types. Superficial peels usually use liquid containing a mild (dilute) acid, most often glycolic acid. Dry ice (solid carbon dioxide) is sometimes used.
· Medium peels penetrate the skin more deeply than superficial peels and cause a second-degree burn of the skin. Trichloroacetic acid (TCA) is the main peeling agent used for medium peels, though the peel may also be done in several steps using a different chemical solution followed by TCA.
· Deep peels penetrate several layers of skin and cause a second-degree burn of the skin. They are used only on the face. A chemical called phenol is usually used for a deep peel. Deep peels may not be used on darker skin types because they tend to bleach the skin (hypopigmentation). Even in lighter-skinned people, phenol peels-or any type of deep resurfacing-may bleach the skin. A deep peel can be done only once in most cases.
What To Expect After Surgery
Recovery time after a chemical peel depends on what kind of peel was done and how deep it was. With all types of peels, proper care of the skin after the peel is very important to speed healing, help results last longer, prevent infection, and avoid colour changes in the treated area caused by sun exposure. Proper skin care after a peel is very similar to the care used to prepare for a peel and typically involves:
· Cleansing the skin frequently with water or a special wash that your surgeon tells you to use.
· Changing the dressing or ointment on the wound (for medium and deep peels).
· Moisturizing the skin daily.
· Avoiding any sun exposure until peeling has stopped and sunscreen can be used. After peeling has stopped, sunscreen should be used every day. New skin is more susceptible to sun damage.
How Well It Works
The results of a chemical peel depend in part on the depth of the peel.
· A superficial peel may slightly reduce but does not eliminate sun damage and signs of aging. The results may not appear for some time, and when they do appear, they may be minimal. Repeated peels are often needed to produce the effect the person wants.
· A medium peel can be very effective in evening out pigment differences and in reducing fine wrinkles and signs of sun damage. Retreatment may be needed after 3 to 6 months to produce the best effect.
· A single deep peel eliminates wrinkles and may tighten the skin. The effects are often dramatic. In general, a person cannot have repeated deep phenol peels.
In general, the deeper the peel, the greater the risk of side effects and complications.1 Chemical peels can result in:
· Redness (erythema). Expect some redness of the skin after a chemical peel. With deeper peels or with certain skin types, redness can be severe. It may fade within a few weeks, or it may last several months.
· Color changes in the skin. Treated areas may be darker or lighter than the surrounding skin.
· Crusting and scaling.
· Swelling (edema), especially around the eyes.
· Allergic reaction to the chemical.
· Infection. People who have a history of herpes outbreaks are especially prone to infection after a chemical peel.
· Increased sensitivity to sunlight.