History of Chemical Peels

It is widely believed that Egyptian women understood the benefits of chemical peels to a certain extent. This is probably why they used fermented grapes and sour milk for bathing. These natural compounds contained traces of hydroxy acids that are now established to be useful, skin rejuvenators.

Tracing History of Chemical Peels

During mid-1800s, a Viennese dermatologist, Ferdinand Hobra, heralded the cause of chemical peels. Apart from using exfoliative agents, he documented the use of croton oil as a chemical peel.

In 1834, chemical peels were first used as a part of professional treatment by a chemist, Friedlieb Runge. At this time, chemical peels were essentially phenol-based peels. In 1892, the use of phenol-derived peels continued but they were reputed to cause skin irritation. Edmund Saalfeld first hinted towards the utility of other products like paraffin for peeling.

In 1900, a report described the possible uses of salicylic acid, TCA (trichloro acetic acid) and recorcinol being useful skin-rejuvenation compounds. Then, in 1927, a medical article by an American plastic surgeon, H.P. Bame, helped pushing phenol peeling as a part of plastic surgery.

In 1932, the use of croton oil for skin rejuvenation gained commercial viability. In 1946, an American plastic surgeon, Joseph Urkov, published an article that underlined the success of chemical peeling. He claimed to have treated 2,000 patients for various skin problems with croton oil peeling.

In 1952, leading dermatologists, Florentine Karp and George Miller MacKee, published their success with phenol peels for treating acne scarring. In 1960s, phenol-based peeling gained legitimacy through the efforts of Thomas Baker and Howard Gordon.

During 1970s, the use of phenol and TAC peels became more common among dermatologists and plastic surgeons, and chemical peels evolved into what they are today.

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