A chemical peel is a cosmetic procedure used to renew, repair and rejuvenate the appearance of your skin through accelerated exfoliation. It is primarily used to treat a variety skin conditions including fine lines and wrinkles, mild scarring, acne, and pigmentation conditions (freckles and age spots). Clinical research has also demonstrated the effectiveness of chemical peels in the treatment of pre-cancerous skin lesions called actinic keratoses.
Chemical peels are performed using a variety of chemical solutions that remove specific layers of unhealthy skin called exfoliation, allowing new and healthier skin to emerge. The process of peeling is performed in a deliberate and controlled way in order to tailor the treatment to your individual needs.
Types of Chemical Peels
These peels utilize chemicals that remove only the outer skin dead skin layer called the stratum corneum. They improve you skin’s overall look and give you a refreshed and healthy glow.
These chemicals penetrate the entire epidermis or superficial skin layer. They are indicated for superficial epidermal pigmentation problems and fine wrinkling or textural changes.
Medium depth peels penetrate into the superficial middle layer of skin called the dermis. These peels are used for dermal pigmentation problems or moderate skin wrinkling and sun-damage.
Deep chemical peels penetrate into the deep parts of the middle layer of skin called the dermis. They are used for moderate to severe sun damage and wrinkling that cannot be resolved with other peels.
Understanding the Chemical Peel Process
The chemical peel process begins with a thorough cleansing of the skin with a special solution designed to eliminate excess oils. You will then receive one or more chemical solutions to specific areas of the skin. The entire process is conducted in a specific way so that the depth of peeling can be controlled and new healthier skin can be revealed.
When beginning the peeling process you may experience a warm or hot sensation for about five to ten minutes. This sensation may then be replaced by what has been described as a stinging feeling. You may receive cool compresses or a fan to help keep you comfortable. Patients who require a medium or deep peel may require pain medication or sedation during or after the procedure.
How To Prepare For a Chemical Peel
In preparing for a chemical peel it is important to discuss with Dr. Meier all medications you may be taking. He may recommend that certain types of medications be discontinued. Some patients may need to use topical preconditioning medications prior to their procedure as well. These topical medications include Retin-A, hydroquinone, or alpha-hydroxy acids.
The prevention of infection is also a concern when receiving a chemical peel, especially for those receiving a deeper peel. Dr. Meier may recommend oral antibiotics or antiviral medications prior to and after your treatment. It is important to follow Dr. Meier’s advice so that you may receive all the benefits of your chemical peel without any complications.
What Happens After a Chemical Peel?
Many patients describe varying experiences following a chemical peel and this is because it will depend upon the type and depth of the peel you receive. Patients receiving a very superficial peel usually report only mild flaking and/or redness over 1-2 days. Patients who receive a superficial peel usually experience a skin reaction resembling a sunburn with an initial red-brown phase for 1-3 days followed by exfoliation over the next 2-4 days. Medium depth peels have a red and sometimes crusting phase that lasts for 3-5 days followed by exfoliation for another 4-8 days. Deep chemical peels have a 10-14 day downtime of redness, crusting, and exfoliation. Medium and deep chemical peels will only be performed by Dr. Meier and it is recommended that they are performed under sedation at the outpatient surgery center for maximal patient comfort.
Is a Chemical Peel Right For Me?
Chemical peeling is a very effective treatment option for a wide range of skin problems and types. Darker pigmented individuals may benefit from very superficial or superficial peels but deeper peels are usually not advised for this population due to possible pigmentation changes after the peel.
It is important to understand however that the type of skin condition being treated will greatly affect the results experienced. You should discuss with Dr. Meier what you are looking to achieve during your initial consultation.
If you have any questions regarding Chemical Peel treatments please feel free to contact our office.