A chemical peel is a noninvasive method of improving the appearance of your skin through the application of a chemical solution. The solution peels away the damaged outer layers of your skin, leaving you with fresh, new skin that is smooth and youthful looking.
Where Are Chemical Peels Used?
Chemical peels are mostly reserved for the face, though sometimes they are used on the neck and hands. They can reduce or eliminate age and liver spots, acne scars, wrinkles, freckles, scars, sun-damaged skin, rough and scaly skin and irregular skin pigmentation. Chemical peels work best on people with fair skin and light hair.
During a chemical peel, a solution is applied to your skin to remove the damaged outer layers. There are three types of chemicals used, depending on the extent of your procedure.
Alphahydroxy acids are used for a light chemical peel. This type of peel removes the outer layer of skin (the epidermis) only, and is a good choice for individuals with uneven skin pigmentation, acne scars, dryness and fine wrinkles. Treatments can be repeated once a week for up to six weeks in order to achieve results.
Trichloroacetic acid (TCA)
Trichloroacetic acid (TCA) is used for a medium depth chemical peel. This treatment removes both the outer layer of skin and the upper portion of the middle layer (the dermis). It’s best for those with deeper wrinkles, acne scars and uneven skin pigmentation. A medium depth chemical peel can be repeated every six to 12 months to maintain the results.
A deep chemical peel uses phenol, the strongest chemical solution available, to penetrate down to the lowest layers of your skin. It is reserved for deep facial wrinkles, scars, sun-damaged skin, blotchiness and pre-cancerous growths. Pretreatment with Retin A or a similar medication is often recommended in order to condition your skin for treatment and to speed up the healing process. Deep chemical peels offer dramatic solutions, but also may require anesthesia and a sedative, and have the longest recovery time.
Are There Any Side Effects?
Side effects vary depending on the chemical solution used. You may experience anything from a little burning or stinging and skin redness to pain, discomfort and swelling.