Chemical Peels

What is a chemical peel?

A chemical peel is a technique used to improve the appearance of the skin on the face, neck or hands. A chemical solution is applied to the skin that causes it to exfoliate and eventually peel off. The new, regenerated skin is usually smoother and less wrinkled than the old skin. The new skin is also temporarily more sensitive to the sun. There are three basic types of chemical peels:

Superficial or lunchtime 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 (TCA) is applied to penetrate the out 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, i.e. actinic keratosis.

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. The procedure is used on the face and only can be performed once.

When is a chemical peel appropriate?

Chemical peels are used to treat a number of conditions including:

  • Acne scars

  • Aging skin

  • Crow's feet

  • Hyperpigmentation

  • Melasma

  • Scars

  • Sun damaged skin

  • Sagging skin

  • Wrinkles

Who is not a candidate for a chemical peel?

Generally light-haired and fair skinned people are the best candidates for chemical peel. The procedure does not work as well on dark-skinned patients. The procedure is not recommended for individuals with infections, active skin disease, cut or broken skin, sunburns or active Herpes simplex 1 sores. Other counter-indications include patients who are:

  • Nursing or pregnant

  • Have taken Accutane in the last six months

  • Have psoriasis, exzema, dermatitis or rosacea

  • 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, lactic or fruit acids are also gentle. They may cause stinging, redness, irritation and crusting but as the skin begins to adjust all these problems will lessen.