Chemical Peels: Good Idea?

Many are choosing to have chemical peels as an alternative to other types of more invasive treatment to treat skin discoloration; rough skin; dull complexion; certain types of acne; mild scars; and the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and age spots. Dermatologists and medical spas who offer chemical peels, recommend this cosmetic procedure for certain types of patients.

If you are thinking about getting a chemical peel, you should see a dermatologist for a consultation and an exam to closely look at your skin. Your dermatologist will determine whether or not chemical peels are the best option for your specific needs. If you are prone to cold sores, have had a procedure in the past, scar easily, have had a keloid, or have taken isotretinoin this treatment may not be the best choice.

There are various types of chemical peels. Most likely all types will contain Trichloroacetic acid (TCA) and Glycolic acid, among other chemicals.

A superficial peel – also known as the lunchtime peel – penetrates only the outer layer of the skin to gently exfoliate. This treatment is usually used to take care of mild skin discoloration; smooth rough skin; and give the face, neck, chest, and hands a revitalized look.

A medium peel will reach all the way to the middle layer of skin to remove damaged skin cells and is used to treat things like age spots, freckles, fine lines and wrinkles, and mild skin discoloration. This type of peel may also tighten laxed, sun damaged skin and remove some actinic keratoses.

A deep peel reaches deep into the middle layer of skin to remove damaged skin cells. This treatment can only be used on the face and can only be administered once. A deep peel can reduce the appearance of aging, making a person look years younger with tighter, brighter, smoother looking skin.

All three peel treatments can be administered in a dermatologist’s office; however, the deep peel may be performed in an outpatient surgical center under general anesthesia. A mild lotion may be recommended after a superficial or medium-depth peel to help soothe the skin. Normally, surgical dressing will be used following a deep peel treatment.

Once a peel is performed, the old skin will peel off and new skin will appear somewhere between 1-14 days. After a treatment some follow-up care is required. Smoking and sun exposure should be avoided as these things tend to promote infections and scarring. You should also avoid scratching or rubbing treated skin or picking at scabs. Keep skin moist and always wear “broad spectrum” sunscreen once the skin is healed.

Although there is some risk associated with chemical peels, – such as permanent discoloration of the skin and scarring – the treatment is a good way to have a more youthful and healthier looking skin without taking more drastic surgical procedures, such as facelifts, soft tissue fillers, and laser resurfacing. Dermatologists, as well as other skin professionals and experts agree that chemical peels is a good alternative to some skin problems.

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