What are Chemical Peels?
Chemical Peels are used by doctors to exfoliate skin layers which have been damaged by acne, aging, and environmental elements to boost the production of new skin and the underlying collagen network. Doctors use different strengths and combinations of chemicals to produce a light, medium, or deep peel, depending on the skin conditions being treated.
How do Chemical Peels work?
Different types of acid are applied which blister the epidermis, causing it to peel away and slough off. Superficial chemical peels may be done using solid carbon dioxide or glycolic acid. Doctors often use thrichloracetic acid for a medium peel, and phenol may be applied for a deep peel. Sometimes doctors use a combination of these or several coats to accomplish the goal of the procedure. New skin growth is generated by this process, leaving the complexion baby soft and smooth once more.
What areas of the body do Chemical Peels treat?
Deep chemical Peels are usually limited to the skin of the face and neck, but specialists use mild and medium peels successfully on other parts of the body. Patients searching for a way to reduce fine lines around the eyes, mouth, or nose may have good results with Chemical Peels. Chemical Peels can also alleviate the dark spots and discoloration. Certain kinds of acne and surface scars may be reduced by this process. Also, Chemical Peels have shown promise in lightening melasma caused by birth control pills or pregnancy.
What are the advantages of Chemical Peels over other similar treatments?
Chemical Peels give both the patient and physician choices about the depth and severity of the treatment not available in some other types of surgical options. Patients undergoing chemical peels have a shorter recovery period than many other methods of facial rejuvenation.
Who is a candidate for a Chemical Peel?
Chemical Peels work best on people with fair skin and light hair, but those with darker complexions should consult their doctor about whether a chemical peel is appropriate for their skin condition.
How is a Chemical Peel performed?
Depending on the type of Chemical Peel being done, the doctor may prescribe an oral sedative or apply a numbing cream. For some deep Chemical Peels, the patient may be given an injection, or, in rare cases, general anesthesia. The doctor will cover the hair and eyes to protect them from the chemicals and then cleanse the skin. He will apply the chemical solution to the face one small area at a time, allowing the acids to penetrate the skin. Once the peel is wiped away, cool compresses may be applied. Sometimes, the area will be covered by ointment or bandages as added protection from bacteria. The entire procedure may be completed within one or two hours.
What is the recovery like?
For a few days, the skin may appear red or blistered. About the third day, it will begin to peel. During these early days, patients can control pain with acetaminophen and icepacks. All patients should avoid the sun entirely during this time. Patients should moisturize the new skin every day, and doctors may prescribe a special cream for nighttime use.
What will the results be like?
Once the swelling has disappeared, the face will look younger. Discoloration from sun damage and aging will be considerably diminished. Fine lines will disappear, and wrinkles will be less noticeable. Large pores will have shrunk, and the skin will be tighter.
What are the risks?
It is possible, but rare, to have an allergic reaction to some of the chemicals. Some patients have an increased sensitivity to the sun after Chemical Peels. A small number have some discoloration of the skin which does not disappear after healing is complete.
Are Chemical Peels approved for use in the U.S.?
Chemical Peels have been approved for use by the FDA.
Are Chemical Peels covered by insurance companies?
Major insurance companies do not cover Chemical Peels for cosmetic purposes.
Disclaimer: This information is intended only as an introduction to this procedure. This information should not be used to determine whether you will have the procedure performed nor does it guarantee results of your elective surgery. Further details regarding surgical standards and procedures should be discussed with your physician.
By SkinCareGuide.com Staff
Updated: November 24, 2009