Chemical peels are used to enhance skin quality. They can improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, scarring, hyperpigmentation, redness, enlarged pores and other skin concerns.
How do chemical peels work?
A chemical peel is a treatment that uses an acid to remove the outer layers of the skin. They also stimulate growth of new skin cells to improve the texture and appearance, while treating certain skin conditions.
The acid penetrates the epidermis in a controlled manner to produce a quick exfoliation, or deeper into the dermis to correct skin problems.
What are the different types of chemical peels?
Glycolic and fruit acid (light) peels: Glycolic acid, salicylic acid, mandelic acid and lactic acids are examples of the most commonly used peels. They will generally produce superficial peeling or exfoliation only and require very little downtime. Salicylic acid peels are a useful treatment for active acne especially on the chest and back. Recovery is usually in one or two days.
TCA (medium) peels: Trichloroacetic acids are the basis for these types of peels, which can be used as a superficial exfoliation or a medium-depth peel. They can improve scarring and induce skin tightening. Exfoliation can occur over several days.
Phenol (deep) peels: these are the deepest of all peels and should only be performed by appropriately qualified doctors and surgeons. Commonly, they will be performed in hospital with ECG monitoring due to the danger of toxicity to the heart and kidneys. Results are significant and can be long lasting. Once completed, exfoliation continues for several days, and healing is complete within 10-14 days.
Who is suitable for treatment?
A chemical peel is a great option for most people looking to improve their skin quality. Some types of peels may not be suitable for those with darker skin types, so it’s important to seek advice from a qualified medical professional before going ahead with treatment.
Chemical peels are not recommended for those who are pregnant or breastfeeding, as well as people taking certain medications. A full consultation is necessary to find the best solution for you.
What results are expected from chemical peels?
When you undergo a chemical peel treatment, you should notice an improvement in skin texture and tone. Sun damage will be reduced, while pigment will become more even, pores will reduce in size, fine lines will disappear, skin will tighten, scars can be reduced, and your skin will look brighter and fresher.
A course of chemical peels is often recommended for best results.
Does the procedure hurt?
The level of discomfort depends on the type of chemical peel you’ve had. Your skin may feel slightly tight or tingly after a light peel, whereas you may notice more of a burning or stinging sensation with a medium-depth peel. Your skin may be red for a few days afterwards.
Deeper peels are generally a lot more uncomfortable. A local anaesthetic and sedative may be needed to numb the pain, while your heart and blood pressure will need to be monitored as the chemical used can affect your heart and kidneys. Swelling can last up to two weeks, while redness can last up to three months.
Are there any risks associated with chemical peels?
After a chemical peel, your skin will be more sensitive to the sun so it’s vital you use sunscreen daily. Most people don’t suffer complications, but they can occur.
There is a risk of infection, abnormal healing and scarring, redness can persist, while you may also have an acne flare-up, increased skin sensitivity, milia and dermatitis.
Seeing an experienced practitioner for your chemical peel treatment is essential for safe and effective results.