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Chemical Peels

Chemical peeling is a non-surgical, cosmetic facial procedure used to improve the appearance of the skin and is typically performed on the face, neck or hands. In this treatment, a chemical solution is applied to the skin that causes it to possibly “blister” and eventually peels off. The new, regenerated skin is usually smoother and less wrinkled than the old skin. The new skin is also temporarily more sensitive to the sun.

Skin Conditions Improved by a Chemical Peel

Chemical peeling is often used to treat fine lines under the eyes and around the mouth. Wrinkles caused by sun damage, aging and hereditary factors can often be reduced or even eliminated with this procedure. However, sags, bulges, and more severe wrinkles do not respond well to peeling and may require other kinds of cosmetic surgical procedures such as a facelift, brow lift, eye lift or soft tissue filler.

Mild, typical scarring, acne scarring and certain types of acne can also be treated with chemical peels. In addition, pigmentation of the skin in the form of sun spots, age spots, liver spots, freckles, splotching due to taking birth control pills, and skin that is dull in texture and color may be improved with chemical peeling.

Areas of sun-damaged, precancerous keratoses or scaling patches may improve after chemical peeling. Following treatment, new lesions or patches are less likely to appear.

Undergoing a Chemical Peel

Candidates

Generally, fair skinned and light haired patients are ideal candidates for chemical peels. Darker skin types may also experience good results, depending upon the type of skin problem encountered. However, gentler peels may be necessary for darker skin types.

What To Expect

Prior to a chemical peel, instructions may include the elimination of certain drugs. 
A chemical peel can be performed in a provider’s office. At the time of treatment, the skin is thoroughly cleansed with an agent that removes excess oils, and the eyes and hair are protected.

One or more chemical solutions – an alpha hydroxy acid, such as glycolic acid, salicylic acid, or lactic acid; trichloroacetic acid (TCA) are used.

During a chemical peel, the provider applies the solution to small areas on the skin. These applications produce a controlled wound, enabling new, refreshed skin to appear. Most patients experience a warm, tingling sensation which lasts about five to ten minutes, followed by a stinging sensation and mild temporary frosting of the skin.

Post Chemical Peel Care

Depending upon the type of chemical peel, a reaction similar to sunburn occurs following a chemical peel session.

What to Expect

  • Superficial peeling usually involves redness, followed by scaling that ends within three to seven days on average.
  • Medium-depth and deep peeling may result in swelling and the presence of water blisters that may break, crust, turn brown, and peel off over a period of seven to 14 days.

*It is important to avoid overexposure to the sun after a chemical peel since the new skin is fragile and more susceptible to complications.

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