Chemical peels provide many benefits including reducing brown spots, improving skin tone, reducing pore size, treating acne, adding a youthful glow to the skin, making the skin smoother, and reducing fine wrinkles and scars.
How chemical peels work
A chemical peel involves the application of a chemical solution to the skin. This solution breaks apart the skin cells to exfoliate layers of skin. The amount of skin that exfoliates depends on the strength of the peel solution applied.
The strength of a peel depends on several factors including how the skin is prepared and the strength and type of chemical applied. The most common chemicals used for peels are glycolic acid, salicylic acid, Jessner’s solution, and TCA (trichloroacetic acid). These solutions provide varying degrees of superficial peeling. In addition, there are various proprietary types of peels that go by different brand names that also produce superficial peeling.
What to expect
Superficial peels sting for a few minutes during application but do not hurt afterward. If peeling occurs, it usually starts 1 – 2 days after the peel is applied and lasts for 2 – 3 days. Sometimes, obvious peeling does not occur after a superficial peel. This is especially true after the first peel. Subsequent peels tend to produce more peeling. Superficial peels are often done in series consisting of 3 to 6 peels done every 2 to 4 weeks depending on the condition being treated, the type of peel, and the skin type.
Salicylic acid and Jessner’s solution are particularly good superficial peels for treating acne because these chemicals hone in on the oil glands and break apart plugged pores.
Deeper peeling is achieved by combining two superficial peels: Jessner’s solution and TCA. Results from this combination are more dramatic, but there is more preparation and downtime. Before treatment, patients are given prescriptions to protect against organisms that may infect the exposed, peeling skin. There is moderate stinging during the procedure that lasts 3 – 5 minutes, but there is no pain afterward. However, there is significant peeling afterward that lasts for 5 – 7 days.
Quick Answers: Chemical Peels
Who can benefit most from a chemical peel?
You can benefit most from chemical peels if you have brown spots, acne, fine lines or scars, or your skin is not as smooth and soft as it used to be.
What is the downtime after a chemical peel?
The amount of downtime depends on the type of chemical peel. It is a few days for a light peel and up to a week for deeper ones.
Are the results of a chemical peel permanent?
Your skin will continue to age after a peel. It is up to you to protect and treat it on a daily basis to slow the aging process as much as possible. Avoiding excess sun exposure and daily use of a high quality sunscreen are the most important steps in this regard.
If you are using peels to treat acne, chemical peels do not cure acne. They treat it. They diminish the numbers of pimples you have, but pimples will return at some point again until your skin moves past the tendency to get them. Chemical peels should be repeated on a regular basis to keep acne under control.
Are there risks to chemical peels?
As with any procedure, there are risks. It is for this reason that estheticians are only allowed to use peels of a limited strength. Risks include discoloration after healing, infection, and scarring. It is important to work with a physician experienced in peeling to minimize these risks.