As we age our skin can be ravaged by exposure to the sun, heat, free radicals and other harmful elements that cause wrinkles. A chemical peel can make an individual look years younger. A chemical peel will smooth the texture of the skin by removing the outer layers and encouraging the formation of new skin cells. Chemical peels can be performed with a light, medium, or deep penetration depending on the degree of wrinkling. Many patients choose to combine a peel with a facelift, which is more economical than laser resurfacing.
Chemical peels can also remove precancerous cells, and are sometimes used in acne treatment. A chemical peel does not replace a facelift, but is a great rejuvenating procedure for people who have sun damage, which has caused some premature aging and is threatening to turn into full-blown skin cancer. Chemical peels are relatively inexpensive and involve very little pain or recovery time compared to surgical procedures.
Alphahydroxy acids (AHAs) include glycolic acid, lactic acid, and fruit acids. These mild peels require little to no recovery and can improve or diminish fine wrinkling, uneven pigmentation, acne, mild sun damage, and rough, dry skin. AHAs may be used on a weekly basis over time to achieve the desired end results and, with doctor supervision, can even be mixed with face care products for short-term daily use.
A light peel may cause some redness, irritation, and even mild crusting, but these side effects are short lived and over time the skin adjusts and will not respond with these side effects.
Trichloroacetic acid (TCA) is normally used for a medium depth peel. Medium peels are used to correct fine wrinkles, blemishes and pigment problems. A medium peel is more effective and requires fewer treatments than a light peel, but is not as long lasting as a deep peel.
After a medium peel, patients should stay out of the sun for several months to avoid pigment problems. Medium peels will cause mild scabbing or crusting and some swelling.
Phenol is used for the deepest peels. Deep peels are not for everyone. Some people’s skin will be lightened by phenol. Deep peels can treat coarse wrinkles, severe skin damage and precancerous growths.
Deep peels can cause significant swelling and may required several days of recovery before returning to normal activities. In some patients a deep peel will result in a permanent inability to tan. This need to protect the new skin from the sun may be seen as an inconvenience, but in reality it is merely an added incentive to do what is best for the skin.
Chemical peels should always be performed by or under the supervision of a board certified cosmetic surgeon or dermatologist. If you are considering a chemical peel, talk to an experienced cosmetic surgeon today.
For more information on chemical peels, try looking in the Facial Procedures Articles.