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Chemical Peels

A chemical peel is a technique used to improve the appearance of fine lines, acne scars, discolorations or other surface changes of the skin on the face, neck, chest or hands, and can be used to reduce breakouts and treat acne. During the appointment, you will cleanse your face with a gentle cleanser, and then a chemical solution will be applied to the skin that will first cause it to become red, then tight, and then exfoliate and eventually peel off over the course of 5-10 days. The degree and duration of peeling will vary based on the strength of the peel. The new, regenerated skin is usually smoother and less wrinkled than the old skin, but is temporarily more sensitive to the sun.

The three basic types of chemical peels:
◦ Superficial peel: Alpha-hydroxy acid or another mild acid is used to penetrate only the outer layer of skin to gently exfoliate it. The treatment is used to improve the appearance of mild skin discoloration and rough skin as well as to refresh the face, neck, chest or hands.
◦ Medium peel: Glycolic or trichloroacetic acid is applied to penetrate the outer and middle layers of skin to remove damaged skin cells. The treatment is used to improve age spots, fine lines and wrinkles, freckles and moderate skin discoloration. It also can be used to smooth rough skin and treat some precancerous skin growths.
◦ Deep peel: Tricholoracetic acid or phenol is applied to deeply penetrate the middle layer of skin to remove damaged skin cells. The treatment removes moderate lines, age spots, freckles and shallow scars. Patients will see a dramatic improvement in skin appearance but it will involve more peeling and a longer healing time.

Who is not a candidate for a chemical peel?
◦ Active cold sore or herpes simplex infection on/near the area to be treated.
◦ Nursing or pregnant.
◦ Have taken Accutane in last six months.
◦ Have psoriasis, eczema, dermatitis or rosacea in the treatment area.
◦ Have used Retin-A, Renova, prescription skin care products, products that contain ascorbic acid, bleaching or skin-lightening agents or other acid-based products in the last 48 hours.

Are chemical peels painful?
◦ Chemicals peels sting but do not cause a great deal of pain.
◦ The gentlest peels use alpha-hydroxy, glycolic, salicylic, lactic or fruit acids are also gentle but still may cause stinging, redness, irritation and crusting.
◦ Trichloroacetic acid is a stronger peel and sting/burn more than those the gentler peels.
◦ Some of our peels now contain a temporary numbing agent to make this process painless.

What are the complications or potential side effects of a chemical peel?
◦ Temporary or permanent change in skin color, particularly for women on birth control pills, who subsequently become pregnant or have a history of brownish facial discoloration.
◦ Scarring.
◦ Reactivation of cold sores that can spread throughout the treated area.

What to expect after a chemical peel?
◦ The day of the peel your skin may be pink.
◦ The next day your skin may feel tight, as if it will crack if you laugh too hard.
◦ In the following days, your skin may flake or peel. The degree of this will depend on the strength of the peel.

After care:
◦ Gentle skin care is recommended during the healing phase.
◦ Avoid exfoliants and retinoid creams.
◦ Gentle cleansers are ideal during this time, with gentle moisturizing.
◦ Sun exposure should be kept at a minimum.
◦ No smoking during the healing phase; this can prolong healing time and cause infection and scarring.
◦ DO NOT PICK the peeling skin; the skin will shed when the new skin is ready.