Chemical peels are topically applied formulas that revitalize the skin surface by creating an even and controlled shedding of the skin cells. This allows new layers to be exposed, creating a fresh appearance and smoother texture to the skin surface. Peels are great first line treatments for many conditions and great maintenance in between other treatments. They can be performed on their own or in conjunction with a facial. A chemical peel can improve sun damage, acne scarring, blotchy pigmentation, fine wrinkling and early pre-cancerous skin lesions. A peel can also improve acne-prone skin and clogged pores.
What do chemical peels do?
Chemical peeling agents resurface the skin by inducing a controlled wound and thus removing superficial layers of the skin. As a result, chemical peels promote the growth of a new healthy top skin layer and improve skin problems like hyperpigmentation, fine lines and wrinkles, uneven texture and skin impurities.
What should I expect during treatment?
Procedures may vary dependent on the type of chemical peel chosen. Skin is prepped using a medical degreaser to ensure the treated area is free of any oils left on the skin. The chemical agent is then applied and typically remains on the skin for 3 to 5 minutes. Most patients feel a mild stinging which is temporary and usually subsides after a few minutes. Some peels are designed to self neutralize and may remain on your skin for 2-4 hours.
How long is the recovery after a chemical peel and what type of care is necessary?
Recovery times will vary based on the type and strength of the peel. Immediately after the peel, your skin will feel tight and may be red. Any visible peeling will be light and fluffy and easily controlled with moisturizer. Peeling usually lasts 3-5 days, depending on the actual peel treatment. Use of gentle cleanser, moisturizer and sunscreen is important, as it will enhance the healing process and results. Normal activity may be resumed after the peel, however strenuous exercise and heavy sweating should be avoided for 2-3 days. Sun exposure should be avoided while skin is peeling; exposure of treated skin to a lot of heat should also be avoided as it may induce swelling, redness and for deeper peels blisters under the skin. Peeling skin should be allowed to slough off naturally; picking or peeling of flaking skin is prohibited, as it may lead to scarring. Use of prescription topicals should be avoided for 3-5 days post peel.
Why did I not have any visible peeling after my peel?
The success of the peel should not be judged by the amount of peeling, but by the end results that the peel will produce. The amount of peeling may vary depending on individual skin condition at the time of the peel or the depth of the peel. Regardless of the degree of peeling, the skin is still sloughing off at an accelerated rate, resulting in the improvement of skin tone and texture and an improvement of fine lines and uneven pigmentation.
What products or procedures should I avoid before a chemical peel?
• One week before the peel avoid waxing, electrolysis, deploritory creams, and laser hair removal.
• Two to three days before the peel discontinue using any prescription topicals such as Retin-A, differin or Tazorac, as well as any products containing retinol, alpha hydroxyl acids (AHA), beta hydroxyl acids (BHA) or benzoyl peroxide.
• Patients who have had any medical cosmetic facial treatments or procedures such as Laser treatments, cosmetic fillers or other surgical procedures should wait until skin sensitivity has completely resolved before receiving a peel.
What are the contraindications to chemical peels?
Chemical peels should be avoided if any of the following conditions are present:
• Active cold sores, herpes simplex or warts in the area to be treated
• Wounded, sunburned or excessively sensitive skin
• Accutane use within the last year
• History of recent chemotherapy or radiation therapy
• Allergies to aspirin
• Women who are pregnant or actively breastfeeding
• Patients with Vitiligo
• Patients with a history of autoimmune disease (such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, lupus, multiple sclerosis etc) or any condition that may weaken their immune system