What Are Chemical Peels?
Peels are usage of specific chemical formulas to treat your skin. Those chemical can be very mild, like glycolic acid, creating superficial changes, or more irritating, such as phenol, that causes more profound changes in your skin. As the potential impact on your skin rises, also raises the risk of undesirable changes, such as scarring or permanent skin lightening.
The depth of peeling may also be determined by how long they remain on the skin and by the way they are applied; lightly or by rubbing vigorously onto the skin.
What Are the Types of Chemical Peels?
There are several types of chemical peels that vary according to their specific ingredients and strength:
- Glycolic (AHA) Peel:
Most superficial of all chemical peels are the one using alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) such as glycolic acid. AHA peels can reduce the effects of aging and damage caused by sun; such as fine wrinkling and brown spots. Sometimes just one treatment with an AHA peel is enough to produce healthier, fresher and radiant appearance of the skin. Repeated treatments can be performed in order to further improve the texture of the skin.
There is no need for anesthesia or sedation. There is only a mild tingling or stinging sensation when solution is applied. You will be able to wear makeup and engage in your regular activities immediately after procedure.
Your surgeon will recommend a maintenance program of AHA products you can apply regularly at home.
- TCA Peel:
For treatment of wrinkles, pigmentary changes and blemishes a trichloracetic acid (TCA) peel is used, often. This type of peel can be applied on the face, neck and other parts of the body that have been exposed to the sun.
TCA peels are preffered choice for spot peelings of limited areas such as around mouths or eyes, since they have less bleaching effect than phenol containing solutions. For the same reason they are more effective in treatments of patients with darker skin.
Mild TCA peels can be repeated frequently in order to cumulate the effects.
Depending on concentration of acid and manner of application TCA peel can achieve medium or even deep peel.
- Phenol Peel:
Phenol peel is recommended for treatments of very rough skin, sun damaged facial skin and for reducing wrinkles ranging from very fine lines to deeper creases.
It can correct pigmentary changes such as age related brown spots, blotchiness and be used in treatments of precancerous skin conditions. Results of aging, such as vertical lines around the mouth can be minimized with phenol.
Its significant bleaching effect is considered a disadvantage in spot peeling of limited areas.You may need to wear makeup after treatment with phenol to even the skin tone of treated areas with the rest of your skin. It cannot be used on neck or other parts of the body.
There are some variations of phenol peel formula that are milder and can be used with greater flexibility.
Who Is a Good Candidate for Chemical Peel?
People who have one or more of the following conditions:
- Acne or chicken pox scars
- Superficial scars from past injury
- Fine wrinkles on your upper eyelids
- Certain precancerous skin growths
- Crows feet lines around eyes and some skin laxity in lower eyelid area
- Wrinkled skin
- Sun damaged skin
- Vertical wrinkles around mouth
- Brown spots and blotchy skin colorings
- Pigmentary changes and blemishes
How Should You Prepare for Chemical Peel?
The initial consultation with your surgeon will require your complete medical history, so you will want to be prepared to provide the necessary information. You must be completely open and honest with your surgeon. If there is any medical problem, you will be referred to a specialist.
With all of this information, your surgeon can plan the best procedure for your needs and tell you how to adequately prepare for the procedure by giving you guidelines.
Prior to a deeper chemical peel your plastic surgeon may decide to place you on a pretreatment program that includes application of special creams, gels or lotions for a few weeks or longer. You may also be prescribed with certain oral medications prior to chemical peel.
How Is Chemical Peel Performed?
Prior to procedure medications will be administered in order to make you feel comfortable. Sometimes local anesthesia and intravenous sedation may be required.
Chemical peel solution is applied to some regions, such as crow’s feet area around eyes, vertical wrinkles around mouth, or entire face.
Your surgeon will decide how long the solution should stay on your skin and carefully observe any changes. Certain types of solutions may be used to neutralized after an appropriate period of time.
After the treatment your resurfaced skin may be protected with petroleum jelly or other ointment. In some cases dressings, tape or bandage may be applied.
What Is Recovery Like After Chemical Peel?
You’ll be given detailed instructions on cleaning of your skin and applying ointments. It is essential to follow those detailed instructions and avoid activities that may interrupt the healing.
Deeper chemical peels will produce redness and swelling of varying degree. Depending on the post-treatment regimen prescribed by your plastic surgeon, a scab may or not form over the treated area. Men who have undergone chemical peels must stop shaving for some time.
Depending on type and depth of chemical peel duration of the time necessary to recover enough to get back to your regular activities may vary for week to few weeks.
Seven to ten days after the procedure new skin will form. Your skin may be pink for several weeks or months, after the initial redness subdues. If needed camouflage makeup can be used for couple of weeks, but please consult about that with your plastic surgeon.
What Are the Results of Chemical Peel?
When deeper chemical peels are done it may take some time for skin pinkness to disappear after the procedure. On the other side, benefits of deeper peels are relatively long lasting. Most patients find the results worth of waiting. Lighter, more superficial peels mat need to be repeated periodically in order to maintain the benefits.
Skin will, of course, continue to age and wrinkles caused by movements of facial muscles will eventually reappear, some sooner than others, depending on location and type of treatment, but the overall appearance of your skin will make you look younger and fresher for many years.
What Are Possible Risks of Chemical Peels?
When the procedure is performed by a highly qualified cosmetic surgeon risks and complications are rare and usually minor. However, as with any procedure, there are some. Your surgeon will spend time discussing these with you during your scheduled consultation. Be sure to bring a list of questions or concerns with you. All patients are instructed to discuss the general procedure risks with their surgeon.
Possible risks of chemical peel procedures are some undesirable changes, such as permanent skin lightening and scarring.