Chemical peels are recommended to improve skin texture, enhance the total complexion, and to remove minor imperfections that regularly appear on the skin’s surface. Chemical peels vary in strength and depth of penetration. A superficial peel will peel the epidermis, which is the top layer of the skin that is dead. An example of this is a glycolic peel. Basically, these peels enhance the exfoliation of the skin. A medium depth peel will penetrate into the dermis. The dermis is living skin. An example of this would be a tri-chloroacetic acid (TCA) peel. There are many different formulas for peels and they can include ingredients such as retinol, kojic acid, lactic acid, alpha hydroxy, Jessner’s, and salicylic acid. While the treatment can be used virtually anywhere on the body, the most requested areas for application are the neck, chest, and face.
There are very common reasons for seeking a chemical peel for the majority of patients. Sun exposure and the aging process lead to the skin imperfections. In addition to these concerns, people also seek out chemical peels due to the presence of fine lines, crepey skin, acne or other blemishes, and discoloration that comes with uneven pigmentation of the skin. Chemical peels can also be effective in treating rough and dry skin as well.
Why Are Peels Important?
Peels have a number of benefits. One of their main benefits is exfoliation of the skin. Why does this matter? When we are young, say 18years old, the skin cells on the surface lift off very quickly, they naturally exfoliate as soon as they rise to the surface. This topmost layer of our skin, the epidermis, is composed of dead skin cells. With rapid exfoliation, this top layer of our skin stays very smooth and even, like glass. When light hits the skin, because the surface is so even, the light bounces right off and this gives us a “glow”. As we age, the top layer skin cells get very sticky and they do not lift off as quickly. A thick layer of dead skin cells builds up. This thick layer is rough and has a irregular surface. When light hits it, the light is fragmented and broken up, it does not bounce off. As a result our complexion appears dull. When peels are used to exfoliate the skin, this thick layer of dead skin cells lifts off, returning our skin to a more normal thickness and our skin is more glowing again. Because all these dead cells are lifting off rapidly, all at once, we get a little flaky. With consistent peels, this period of flaking will become less.
Exfoliation is very important for skin health. Since peels thin the outer layer of dead skin, they also allow better penetration of topical skin care products. Skin care ingredients such as retinol and peptides work to increase collagen levels, which improve and/or prevent fine lines. Ingredients such as anti-oxidants help product the cell’s DNA from UV damage. Ultraviolet radiation is a leading cause of skin aging and damage. Still other ingredients help improve brown spots. These include hydroquinone, arbutase and kojic acid. Peels help these ingredients penetrate better.
While all peels exfoliate, peels are also therapeutic in and of themselves. The deeper peels can help eliminate brown spots, increase collagen in the skin which can help diminish the appearance of fine lines, and improve the texture of the skin. Although it may seem counter-intuitive, peels with the proper ingredients can also help calm irritated skin such as that seen in rosacea. Regular peels should be part of any anti-aging regimen.
Chemical Peel Treatments
Chemical peels are individually adjusted for each patient. The strength and composition of the chemical solution is tailored according to the type of damage a patient has experienced and the kind of results that they desire. There are specific solutions that commonly address the needs for patients.
Peels are performed in the office. The overall procedure is gentle on skin, beginning with a mild cleansing in order to remove surface debris and oils. This cleansing is usually accomplished with alcohol mixtures that are followed by acetone. Physicians then use applicators composed of cotton in order to evenly apply the specified chemical solution across the skin. The solution is allowed to rest on the surface of the skin for a small period of time in which it penetrates the skin’s outer layers. After the solution has had time to take effect, the remaining chemicals are removed from the skin’s surface. Depending on the strength there is no discomfort or some stinging that lasts about 2 minutes. Patients can usually return to work immediately. All patients receive post-peel instructions and take home products to enhance the effects of the peel.
Chemical Peel Results
Patients experience very few side effects following chemical peels. There is the possibility for the skin to exhibit some redness or flaking once the process is complete. These symptoms occur as the skin engages in regeneration and renewal. There are few limitations to patients following a chemical peel. The majority of peels allow for the use of makeup almost immediately after the procedure is complete. The enhancements in your cosmetic appearance reveal themselves right away through smoother skin and a vastly improved complexion. As the skin continues to heal from its inner layers, other imperfections will continue to fade from the surface.