Chemical Peels

Chemical peels are an excellent way to give your skin a fresh glow. Not all are created alike however, so a little education is not a bad thing.

What is a chemical peel?

Chemical peels consist of a chemical solution that is put on the face and, after a period of time, removed. They are designed to improve and smooth the outer layers of the skin by removing the top damaged layers.

Chemical peels are usually sought by people who want to get rid of blemishes, uneven skin pigmentation and wrinkles. Chemical peels are especially helpful in the battle against wrinkles – letting the new and undamaged skin come out from under that top layer can be a boon to creating a look that is fresh and healthier.

Sometimes chemical peels are performed in conjunction with a face lift, but it’s not necessary. They can be performed alone and often a series of peels provide a benefit similar to – but not as dramatic as — a face lift.

Is a chemical peel right for you?

Most chemical peels are performed for cosmetic reasons – to smooth and brighten the skin, heal blemishes, reduce the look of fine lines and wrinkles and to improve the look of uneven skin.

Some chemical peels are performed to remove pre-cancerous growths and in that case might be covered by insurance. Depending on your needs, check with your insurance company to determine if your peel might be covered by your insurance.

Types of chemical peels

AHA peels – AHA (or alpha hydroxy acid) peels include glycolic peels, lactic acid peels, and salicylic acid peels. These are the lightest peels available and are generally the gentlest to the skin. These peels are often called “lunchtime peels” because they can be performed quickly and recovered from even more quickly. Often they are combined with a prescribed skin care regimen and usually must be performed in a series over a period of time for maximum results.

Trichloroacetic acid peels – Trichloroacetic acid (or TCA) peels are often used for slightly more intense peels. These peels are usually used for pigment problems, more severe blemishes than can be handled by AHA peels, and wrinkles. The results are usually more dramatic than with an AHA peel but these require a slightly longer recovery period than AHA peels.

Phenol peels – These are the strongest of all the chemical peels. These intense peels are usually reserved for those with deep wrinkles and skin severely damaged from the skin.

Side effects and precautions

There are risks associated with any chemical peel, including redness, irritation, stinging and crusting. Some peels might produce more side effects, while others, less. Of course, much depends on the sensitivity of your skin and the intensity of the peel.
Most chemical peels have a short recovery period and most side effects – even if redness and irritation – are short lived. If any side effects become severe or continue more than a day past the date of the peel, the doctor or aesthetician should be consulted and perhaps further peels discontinued.

After your peel

You and the doctor or aesthetician who performs your peel will have agreed before your peel how many peels are necessary. If you get a very intense peel, the peel combined with a new skin care regimen might be adequate, but a lighter peel might require several applications over a particular period of time. After your peel, you will likely apply a lotion or serum to the skin. You will also likely be instructed to use a particular product or series of products to continue the work that the peel started.