Chemical Peel Facts

Chemical peels are a type of therapy for the skin of the face designed to remove or deeply exfoliate the top layers of the skin. Also known as chemexfoliation, facial peels are the least invasive methods to improve the look and feel of the face.

Why use a chemical peel?

Aging causes damage to the skin, as does acne and exposure to the sun. The skin can become spotted and scarred, and wrinkles can occur. To even out the skin, a chemical peel can be used. The peel removes the outer layers of the skin that are damaged, causing new layers of skin to form. This improves the look of the skin. Usually used on the face, a chemical peel can also be used on the neck and hands.

What can a chemical peel improve?

Because they remove the top layers of the skin, a chemical peel can remove anything from acne scars to liver and age spots. Irregular skin color and sun damage can also be improved through a chemical peel. Rough skin and fine lines are located in the uppermost layers of the skin and they can be removed with chemical peels, though it may take a few peels before results are shown. The same is true with sun damage and acne scarring. Depending on how deeply the damage has affected the skin layers, the amount of chemical peels will need to be adjusted.

What happens during a chemical peel?

During a peel, the skin is prepared by cleansing. A solution is applied to the skin, usually by a brush. Chemicals such as alpha hydroxy and beta hydroxy acids, glycolic acid, salicylic acid and maleic acid might be used. The chemicals are left on the skin for about 10 minutes. There is usually no pain other than a mild stinging sensation. The peel is then removed and a cooling agent is applied that neutralizes the effects of the acids. Treatments can be repeated once a week for up to six weeks if needed. For maintenance, using a chemical peel once a month is advised.

Deep chemical peels

Deep chemical peels are used in case of deep wrinkles or scarring. Precancerous growths can be addressed with this type of peel as well. A strong chemical, usually phenol, is applied. Phenol penetrates to deeper layers of the skin. Because this type of peel can be painful, local anesthesia is frequently used during the procedure, and a sedative drug is prescribed afterwards. To prepare for a deep chemical peel, a regimen of lighter chemical peels for an eight week duration is prescribed to prepare the skin. The doctor may also prescribe Retin-A or another drug. When the phenol is applied to the skin, it is left on for between 30 minutes and two hours. Water will neutralize the phenol at the end of the treatment. Petroleum jelly is then applied to the skin. It remains on the newly exposed skin for two days. A doctor can also apply strips of medical tape to protect the skin, leaving openings for the mouth and eyes, if he chooses.

Chemical peels are a simple way to improve skin appearance without surgery and its related expenses and recovery time.

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