A chemical peel treatment is harsher than microdermabrasion and involves the use of mild acids to strip away layers of aged skin. The chemical solution is applied to the skin causing it to blister and peel off over a period of a few days. As a result, new, younger, smoother looking skin grows to replace the older looking skin.
Depending on the results required and the depth of skin that needs to be removed, different peel solutions are used ranging from mild to strong.
This treatment is either performed in the surgeon’s office based facility or as an outpatient in a hospital. Sedation may be required for the moderate to strong peels in order to relax the patient.
Mild chemical peels use alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) such as glycolic or lactic acids to produce smoother and younger looking skin. Mild treatments can begin as early as age 25 to 30, in order to prevent the premature appearance of skin aging signs.
AHA treatments normally require around 10 minutes. The pain experienced is minor, and therefore no anesthetic is required. Repeated use of AHAs may be required to get the desired results.
An AHA chemical peel can be used to treat fine wrinkles, areas of chronic dry skin, uneven skin pigmentation, acne, and it improves the texture of sun-damaged skin.
Side effects for this mild peel treatment can include stinging, redness, dryness, and crusting or flaking of the skin. All these side effects will disappear once the skin gets accustomed to repeated treatments. The use of a sunscreen is necessary after treatment, whenever there is sun exposure.
Moderate Chemical Peels
Moderate peels involve the use of trichloroacetic acid (TCA). TCA peels sometime require pre-treatment of the skin with a vitamin A compound or AHAs.
Wrinkles, superficial blemishes, and pigment problems are skin defects commonly treated with trichloroacetic acid. This treatment can be used on the neck and other body areas, in addition to the facial area.
A moderate peel does provide some good benefits, but the results are not long lasting. Often more than one moderate peel treatment is required to arrive at reasonable anti-aging results. Subsequent treatments are spaced out over several months. Each procedure normally takes around 10 to 15 minutes and does not require anesthetic, because the peel solution itself performs this function. A sedative may be used to relax the patient.
A TCA peel will cause some throbbing pain and possibly some significant swelling. However, in most cases the swelling is mild and disappears within a week. Changes in skin colour may occur as a result of this treatment. The recovery time is longer than a mild peel, but usually less than strong one. Within two weeks, the new skin will have formed and normal activities can be resumed. Individuals who have had a TCA peel must avoid sun exposure for several months after treatment in order to protect the sensitive new skin layers.
Phenol is the chemical used in a strong peel solution. This chemical results in a deep skin peel that is used on the face only. It is effective in treating deep wrinkles, mild scarring, areas of blotchy or sun-damaged skin, and pre-cancerous growths.
A strong peel procedure can be performed in one to two hours, but much shorter if only small areas are to be treated. The results are very noticeable and can last up to 20 years. As for the TCA peel, no anesthetic is required, because the solution itself performs this function.
Phenol solutions may result in a bleaching of the skin. Therefore this treatment may not be applicable for dark skin tones. Significant swelling is possible for the first couple of days and redness and blistering are likely to occur. Keloid healers (individuals that tend to form scars when healing from a skin injury) should not undergo this treatment.
Because phenol is a harsher chemical peel, complete healing may take several months. New skin will form in about 10 days. Skin redness will disappear, but a pinkish hue may last for several weeks. Normal activities can be resumed after about two weeks. However, adequate precautions should be taken, such as the use of sunscreen when outdoors.