What is a chemical peel?
Chemical peel is a technique used to regenerate skin, it is also an anti aging procedure. You need a dermatologist to evaluate your skin and the application is done by a trained dermatologist.
Chemical solutions of different types can be used.
They cause the skin to exfoliate/peel off and a new skin regrows. The new skin is smoother and has a radiant glow.
What is a chemical peel used for?
- The chemical peel helps to treat acne , like the black heads, whiteheads and the mild superficial acne scars.
- The pigmentation of the skin like sun spots, age spots, freckles, melasma from hormonal causes.
- It can minimize fine wrinkles, especially around the eyes, which are caused by chronic sun damage. It does not treat severe wrinkles.
Picture of mild scarring before and 3 months after chemical peel:
What are the types of chemical peels?
There are three chemicals, the glycolic acid ( alpha hydroxy acids AHA), the more potent, trichloroacetic acid, and the Jessners solution (containing lactic and salicylic acid).
How is a chemical peel performed?
Your dermatologist will assess you and decide which superficial or deep peel is needed and the type of solution to be used. You may need to stop the use of some medications like strong vitamin A creams. The skin is primed with pre conditioning creams. You may need 2 to 4 AHA sessions for acne but more for acne scars . You may need 1-3 sessions for freckles but more for deep pigment problems.
The dermatologist applies the solution to exfoliate the skin. You will feel a hot sensation for 5 to 10 minutes. The deeper peels are more painful and may require anesthetic creams before the procedure. Within the next few days, the face will be red, scaly, and peel off. Deeper peels turn brown black, show swelling and peel off after 1 to 2 weeks.
How do I look after my skin after the peel?
- You need to cleanse the skin gently and apply post peel creams frequently.
- Do not scratch , pick or peel off the scabs.
- Avoid the sun.
- Use a sunblock.
- Do not use your routine anti aging skin creams till a week later.
What are the complications with a superficial peel like AHA peel, and a deep peel like trichloroacetic acid?
Superficial peels use 35 to 50 % AHA. Three main complications are:
- A risk of developing post peel colour change, a deep brown colour. This is more common in darker skinned individuals. Hormone treatments may darken this more. The colour may take 3 to 4 months to fade. The skin may burn and darken if you are on oral isotretinoin capsules, so do not use peels.
- A low risk of scars can form after peels. This may start as scabs which can become infected. Sometimes, herpes infection can be reactivated and cause persistent pain and scars. Inform your doctor if you have a history of herpes, and avoid any peels in active herpes infection.
- You may be allergic to the solution and develop redness, blisters and eczema/rash.
Deep peels like trichloroacetic acids of 35 to 50 % can lead to swelling , blisters, and scars.
What are the limitations of chemical peels?
Chemical peels cannot change pore size or broken veins on the skin. Peels cannot remove deep scars, deep wrinkles, sagging skin. Laser and other surgery may be needed.
DEDICATED TO EXCELLENCE IN DERMATOLOGY
By National Skin Centre (Singapore)
Copyright (C) 1995 - National Skin Centre (Singapore)