What are Chemical Peels?
Chemical peels are procedures that are done to improve the condition as well as the appearance of the skin. In the treatment, a chemical concoction is applied on the skin, which eventually peels off, leaving behind a new skin, which is smoother and finer than the layer of the skin that got peeled off. Chemical peels are generally done on the face, neck, and the hands and can help with the following things:
- To reduce the fine lines that appears on the face, particularly near the mouth and around the eyes.
- To treat or reduce the appearance of wrinkles, which are a result of aging and sun damage.
- To reduce the appearance of scars.
- To treat different types of acne.
- To reduce the appearance of freckles, dark spot, as well as age spots, caused due to oral contraceptives and pregnancy.
- To improve the way the skin looks and feels.
- To improve the areas of the skin, damaged by the sun.
It is important to know that chemical peels make the skin sensitive temporarily, so it is important to wear sunscreen every day that gives protection against the UVB as well as the UVA rays. People who get the procedure done are advised to not go under the sun between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. and to wear a sunscreen that is above SPF 30.
Types of Chemical Peels
These are the different types of chemical peels that are done:
Alpha Hydroxy Acid Peels
- Alpha Hydroxy Acid is a naturally occurring acid that is found in tomato juice and sour milk. This is a mild treatment and consists of light peels that are used to treat dryness, wrinkles, pigmentation, as well as acne. The acid is sometimes also found in serums, cream, facial cleansers and other skin care products as they help to improve the skin’s texture. There are five types of usual fruit acids that are used:
- Tartaric acid
- Malic acid
- Lactic acid
- Glycolic acid
- Citric acid
It is important to know that AHA may cause mild irritation, dryness, stinging, as well as redness. Generally, low percentage of hydroxyl acids and high pH levels are used as home peels. The home peels aren’t as effective as an in-office procedure, but one of the reasons why people use it is that it is economical.
Beta Hydroxy Acid Peels
One form of beta hydroxyl acid is salicylic acid, which is antibacterial and anti-inflammatory in nature and is used to treat acne, reduce bumps caused by acne, as well as acne marks. More and more dermatologists and cosmetologists are now using beta hydroxyl acid (BHA) instead of alpha hydroxyl acid (AHA) for skin treatments because BHA is oil soluble. Furthermore, BHA controls sebum excretion and removes skin cells better than AHA as that only works on the surface of the skin.
Jessner's Peel earlier known as Coombe’s formula was pioneered by a German American dermatologist known as Dr. Max Jessner. Jessner made a concoction in an ethanol base by using lactic acid, resorcinol, and 14% salicylic acid. The concoction is thought to break intracellular bridge between keratinocytes and since it is so mild in nature, it is difficult to over-peel the skin as it doesn’t penetrate deeply in the skin unlike other types of chemical peels.
Retinoic Acid Peel
Retinoic acid as the name suggested is a retoid and is done in a clinic under the supervision of a dermatologist, plastic surgeon, or maxillofacial surgeon. This type of peel is much more concentrated and is used to remove scars, pigmentation, as well as wrinkles. Most of the times, dermatologists choose to perform it along with Jessner, so that the skin opens up and the retinoid can penetrate to deep layers of the skin. The client has to leave with the peel on their face because the peeling process takes a few days. If there is intense scarring on the face, it may take multiple sittings.
Croton Oil (Phenol Peel)
A phenol peel is a skin treatment that was made famous again by Gregory Hetter, as he talked about its historical use and how Hollywood stars in the 1920s used to make use of it in order to maintain their youthful appearance till the time it was used by Thomas Baker in 1960 to its use in modern medicine. One of the most important ingredients in the peel is croton oil that causes an exfoliating reaction on the skin and eventually causes rejuvenation while restoring the dermis, which can’t be done with superficial peels.
Before You Get a Chemical Peel
If you are planning to get the treatment, it is important that you talk to your doctor if you have had any history of scarring, facial X-rays, or any cold sores on the face that keep coming back. One of the reasons why you need to talk to your doctor is that they may ask you to stop taking certain drugs, so that your skin can be prepared by other medicines.
Some of the doctors even recommend antiviral drugs or antibiotics depending on every individual case. Talk to your doctor in order to find them about the depth of the peel, as it is generally determined based on the condition of the skin and the kind of results you anticipate. Ask them about the intensity of the treatment and if you will need someone to drive you home after the peel.
How Chemical Peels Are Done
Deeply invasive chemical peels are done in a doctor’s office or in a surgery centre. Since it is an outpatient procedure, you won’t have to stay at the clinic. The procedure generally consists of the expert cleaning your skin and then applying chemical solutions like trichloroacetic acid, salicylic acid, lactic acid, or carbolic acid, or glycolic acid on a small patch of your face in order to test it out.
During the peel, some people feel a slight burning sensation that lasts for a few minutes and is replaced by a stinging sensation. In order to combat that doctors apply cool compresses and may also prescribe pain medication if the peel is too deep.
What to Expect After the Chemical Peel
What you should expect generally depends on the kind of procedure that you get done, but it is generally the same kind of feeling that you get after sunburn. Peeling is usually accompanied by redness that is followed by scaling, which may last up to a week.
If you opted for a mild peel, you may be called back for another sitting, one to four months after the first one. If you had a medium depth or a deep peel, you may experience blisters that may be crusty, dark in appearance and will peel off within one to two weeks. In some of the cases the medium peels are repeated after six to twelve months if deemed necessary. The doctor asks the patient to stay away from the sun, since their skin is very sensitive after a peel.
Some of the possible complications that you may face after a peel is that you will have a temporary color change, which usually happens to women that take birth control pills. There is a low chance of getting scarring on the face as well, but if that does happen, it can be easily treated.
Chemical Peel Facts You Should Know About
Here are some interesting facts about chemical peels that you should know:
- Chemical damages the skin in a controlled manner in order to give the desired results.
- The damage is repaired with the help of the natural healing process that improve the skin’s appearance.
- The depth of the peel is determined by the kind of chemicals that are applied on the skin.
- The chemical peel is chosen based on the type of the skin.
- Some of the rare side effects of chemical peeling involve infection, color changes, as well as scarring.
- Chemical peels are also used with other techniques in order to reduce the appearance of acne and scarring.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who should get chemical peel done?
Chemical peel is generally done on people with a fair skin, but people with dark skin also show good results based on the kind of problem they are getting treated for. It is important you know that chemical peels don’t work too well with bulges and skin sags.
I want a chemical peel, what should I do?
It is highly recommended that you get in touch with a dermatologist so that they can examine your skin and can determine whether you need a chemical peel or not.
What conditions can skin peel treat?
- Skin peel is suitable for the following conditions:
- Sun damaged skin
- Sagging skin
- Hyper pigmentation
- Crow's feet
- Aging skin
- Acne scars
Who shouldn’t get a chemical peel?
- Chemical peels are not recommended for the following people:
- People who have skin issues like skin diseases, broken skin, infections, herpes, sores, as well as sunburn.
- Pregnant and nursing women
- People who are or have taken Accutane in the last 6 months.
- People who have eczema, dermatitis, psoriasis, as well as rosacea.
- People who have used acid based or skin lightening products in the last 24 hours.
Do chemical peels hurt?
Chemical peels don’t hurt but they might cause slight discomfort to some patients. Some of the most gentle peels make use of lactic acid and alpha-hydroxy, glycolic. If you are opting for a deep skin peel, some of the issues that you may feel includes redness, crusting, irritation, and stinging sensation that will go away as the skin will start adjusting.
Strong peels consist of Trichloroacetic acids that are used to remove pigmentation, blemishes, as well as wrinkles. Dermatologists also use phenol in order to remove wrinkles and deep lines from the face. These treatments generally tend to cause more discomfort like stinging sensation and redness, but doctors generally prescribe topical medicines to reduce the effects. In some of the cases doctors also prescribe oral medicines after the peel.
What are some of the side effects that I should expect after getting a peel?
Some of the side effects that you may anticipate include:
- Temporary change in the color of the skin
- Activation of cold sores
What should I expect after I get a chemical peel?
Different types of peels require different follow-up care. Let’s have a look at them:
- Superficial peels
- These peels may take up to a week to heal and initially you may experience scaling as well as redness. Your doctor may prescribe lotion or cream that has to be applied until the skin completely heals. You may also be asked to apply sunscreen every day.
- Medium peels
- These peels may take up to two weeks to heal and initially you may experience swelling as well as redness. The swelling is at its peak during the first two days, and you may experience crusting as well. You will be required to apply topical medication as well as take antiviral for 10 to 14 days. People are not allowed to go under the sun until their skin is completely healed and have to go for a follow up appointment as well.
- Deep peels
- These peels may take up to three weeks to heal and the treated area will be bandaged. You will be required to apply ointments for the first two weeks that will be replaced by a heavy moisturizer. You will have to take antiviral for 10 to 14 days and will have to avoid skin exposure for at least three months. You will be required to go for several check-up appointments, so the doctors can observe the progress.