Chemical peeling is a technique used to improve the appearance of the skin. In this treatment, a chemical solution is applied to the skin which causes it to separate and eventually peel off. The new, regenerated skin is usually smoother and less wrinkled than the old skin. The new skin is also more even in color.
Thousands of chemical peels are performed each year. Dermatologic surgeons have used various peeling agents for the last 100 years and are experts in performing multiple types of chemical peels. Today, with the public's increasing interest in rejuvenating skin and slowing the effects of the aging process, chemical peeling has emerged as an exciting supplement to total skin care program. A through evaluation by your dermatologic surgeons is imperative before embarking upon a chemical peel.
What can a chemical peel do?
Chemical peeling is often used to treat fine lines under the eyes and around the mouth. Wrinkles caused by sun damage, aging and hereditary factors can often be reduced or even eliminated with this procedure. However, sags, bulges and more severe wrinkles do not respond well to peeling and may require other kinds of cosmetic surgical procedures, such as eyelid lift or soft tissue filler. Dermatologic surgeons can help determine the most appropriate type of treatment for each individual case.
Mild scarring and certain types of acne can be treated with chemical peels. In addition, pigmentation of the skin in the form of sun spots, age spots, liver spots, freckles, blotchiness due to taking birth control pills, and skin that is dull in texture and color may be improved with chemical peeling. Areas of sun-damaged skin, spots of precancerous keratoses and scaling patches may improve after chemical peeling. Following treatment, new lesions or patches are less likely to appear.
How are chemical peels performed?
The procedure can be performed on the face, neck, chest, hands, arms, and legs. Superficial, medium, or deep chemical peels may be used to improve damaged skin. As a rule, the deeper the peel, the longer the recovery time. Your dermatologic surgeons will recommend the best peel for your skin problems.
Prior to treatment, instructions may include stopping certain medications and preparing the skin with preconditioning creams.
A chemical peel can be performed in a dermatologic surgeon's office or in a surgery center as an out-patient procedure. The skin is thoroughly cleansed with an agent that removes excess oils, and the eyes and hair are protected. One or more chemical solutions - such as glycolic acid, trichloroacetic acid, salicylic acid, lactic acid, or carbolic acid (phenol) - are used. Your dermatologic surgeon will select the proper peeling agent based upon the type of skin damage present.
During a chemical peel, the physician applies the solution to various areas of the skin. These applications produce separation and eventual peeling of layers of skin, enabling new, regenerated skin to appear.
During the procedure, most patients experience a warm to somewhat hot sensation which lasts about five to ten minutes, followed by a stinging sensation, A deeper peel may require pain medication during or after the procedure.
What should be expected after treatment?
Depending upon the type of peel, a reaction similar to a mild to severe sunburn occurs following a chemical peel. Superficial peeling usually involves redness, followed by scaling that ends within three to five days.
Medium-depth and deep peeling can sometimes result in swelling and blisters that may break, crust, turn brown, and peel off over a period of seven to 14 days. Some peels may require surgical tape to be placed on part or all of the skin that is treated.
It is important to avoid overexposure to the sun immediately after a chemical peel since the new skin is fragile and more susceptible to injury. Your dermatologic surgeon will prescribe proper follow-up care to help the skin through the healing stages.
What are the possible complications?
In certain skin types, there is a risk of developing temporary or permanent color change in the skin. Taking birth control pills, pregnancy, or a family history of brownish discoloration on the face may increase the possibility of developing abnormal pigmentation.
Although low, there is a risk of scarring after chemical peels. If scarring does occur, it can usually be treated with good results.
There is a small incidence of the reactivation of cold sores or Herpes simplex infection in patients with a history of fever blisters.
Prior to a chemical peel, it is important for a patient to inform the physician of any past history of keloids, unusual scarring tendencies, extensive X-rays or radiation to the face, or recurring cold sores.
What are the limitations of chemical peels?
Chemical peels cannot remove loose or sagging skin and do not serve the dame function as a face lift, brow lift, or eyelid lift. They do not eliminate the gravitational forces that produce loose skin.
Chemical peeling will not remove deep scars. Dermabrasion, punch grafting, punch elevation, scar excision, or soft tissue fillers may be much more effective for scars and should be discussed with your dermatologic surgeons.
Chemical peels cannot change pore size, nor can they predictably removed broken blood vessels on the face. However, chemical peels may improve the appearance of these conditions.