As we age, dead skin cells do not slough off as easily as when we are younger, causing the skin to appear dull. Light, medium and deep chemical peels are a popular nonsurgical cosmetic procedure used to peel away the skin’s top layer to improve sun-damaged, unevenly pigmented and wrinkled skin. Improving the evenness of color and texture in your skin creates a youthful look and restores a healthy, luminous and radiant appearance.
– No anesthesia or sedation is needed.
– Light and medium chemical peels have minimal aftercare and recovery.
– Deep chemical peels have long-lasting effects on treating deep wrinkles.
– After peel, there will be sun sensitivity and pores may appear larger.
– Deep chemical peels may have a bleaching effect.
– Can exacerbate skin disorders, including allergic reactions or cold sores.
Am I a good candidate for a chemical peel?
– You have sun-damaged skin
– You have significant facial wrinkling
– Your skin color is uneven with blotchiness, sunspots and brown spots
– You have scars that have made the surface of your skin uneven
– You have certain precancerous skin growths
Other characteristics of your skin, such as its thickness and texture, may influence whether you are a good candidate for chemical peels.
If you are in good general health, have a positive attitude and realistic expectations, you are most likely a good candidate for this procedure.
About Your Procedure
How is a chemical peel procedure performed?
Most often, your treatment will be performed by a licensed skincare professional in your plastic surgeon’s office or medical spa. Peels involve the application of a chemical solution to your entire face or just to certain regions, such as the crow’s feet area around your eyes or the vertical wrinkles around your mouth.
The chemical solution is either applied lightly or rubbed more vigorously onto the skin being treated using a sponge, cotton pad, swab, or brush (avoiding your brows, eyes and lips). During peel application, you may experience a slight tingling (light to medium peels) or a burning sensation (deep peels). These sensations are usually minimal for light and medium peels but are more severe for deep peels. The length of time the solution is allowed to work is determined by carefully observing the changes in the appearance of your skin. With certain types of chemical peels, the solution may be “neutralized” after an appropriate amount of time has elapsed.
The different types of chemical peels vary according to their specific ingredients and their strength. The depth of their peeling action may also be determined by factors such as how long they remain on the skin and how they are applied onto the skin.
No covering or after-peel ointment is necessary after a light or medium peel and you can expect little to no downtime. However, after a deep peel, a thick coating of petroleum jelly or other protective ointment is layered over the face, covering the protective crust that develops rapidly over the area. This stays in place for one to two days. In some cases, dressings, tape or a bandage may be applied (this is particularly effective in cases of severe wrinkling). A deep peel requires a longer recuperation period.
Chemical peels exfoliate dead cells and can improve texture, acne, sun damage and congested pores. Deeper peels can address wrinkles and uneven skin tone.
What are my options?
Light to Medium Peels
– Glycolic (AHA) peel
– Trichloracetic (TCA) acid peel
Preparing For Your Procedure
In advance of your procedure, your surgeon will ask you to:
– Stop smoking at least six weeks before undergoing surgery to promote better healing.
– Avoid taking aspirin, certain anti-inflammatory drugs and some herbal medications that can cause increased bleeding.
– You may be asked to take a shower and wash your hair with regular or antibacterial soap.
– Regardless of the type of surgery to be performed, hydration is very important before and after surgery for safe recovery.
Chemical peels are usually performed on an outpatient basis. If you have a deep peel be sure to arrange for someone to drive you home after treatment and to stay with you at least the first night following treatment.
Aftercare And Recovery
Immediately after a chemical peel
For deep peels, your treated skin may be covered with petroleum jelly or other protective ointment and, in some cases, dressings may be applied.
You may have some pain, particularly with the deeper peels. If the pain is extreme or long-lasting, contact your physician. You will also have some redness and swelling after the surgery. Contact your surgeon to find out if your pain, redness and swelling are normal or a sign of a problem.
Recovery time frame after chemical peels
Your recovery will depend on the technique and depth of treatment.
A more superficial treatment will have no down time and you can return to your normal activities immediately.
Medium to Deep Peels
A deeper peel will involve a more prolonged healing period. You will be advised about cleansing your skin and if you should apply any ointments. For men who have undergone resurfacing procedures, shaving must be delayed for a while.
The first two weeks
– Depending on the post-treatment regimen selected by your surgeon, a scab may or may not form over the treated area in medium and deep peels.
– For deeper peels, your wounded skin may be moist and ooze serous (“clear watery”) fluid.
– Depending on the depth of the peel you might have, swelling and redness will gradually change to pink, signalling that your new skin has begun to form.
Week two to eight
– Your skin may still be pink.
– Your skin tones will begin to blend naturally.
– Your surgeon will advise if camouflage makeup can be used.
How Long Will My Results Last?
Most patients feel that the results are definitely worth waiting for and, in the case of deeper treatments, the benefits are relatively long-lasting. Superficial resurfacing procedures may need to be repeated periodically in order to maintain their benefits.
Limitations And Risks
– Abnormal healing
– Unanticipated color changes or skin blotchiness
– Eruption of cold sore (herpes virus)
– Tiny whiteheads