Are You Considering a Chemical Peel?

Millions of chemical peels are performed each year.  Today, with the public’s increasing interest in rejuvenating skin and slowing the effects of the aging process, chemical peeling has emerged as an exciting anti-aging procedure.

Chemical peels use solutions that will smooth and improve skin texture and appearance. It does so by stripping away the damaged outer layers of the skin. Chemical peels can lessen, and in some cases, even eliminate blemishes, hyper-pigmentation (discoloration and darkening), and wrinkles. They are even known to reduce acne scars and the occurrence of acne.

It is very important that, first of all, that you get proper appraisal on your current skin condition. This will help you understand your skin’s needs and the proper treatment of such. Some people think that chemical skin peels are the ‘cure-all’ for their skin problems. This is far from the truth. The proper chemical peel will provide a solution to your specific problem.

There are many kinds of chemical peels; you may choose one according to your needs and circumstance. The available chemical peels are divided into three categories: Phenol, trichloroacetic acid (TCA), and alphahydroxy acids (AHA).  Each of these categories differs in use, potency and inconvenience. Your dermatologist will help you decide which one is right for you. He or she may suggest a customized solution for you. Before actually agreeing, make sure you understand the procedure, the desired treatment outcome and any side effects or possible complications.

Alphahydroxy acids (AHAs) are the mildest of the chemical peels. They are typically made of fruit, glycolic, and lactic acids. These peels may not show as dramatic effects as the other peels; they are, however, best for those who do not have a lot of recovery time. Superficial peeling usually involves redness, followed by scaling that lasts three to five days.  These peels are applied weekly or periodically, depending on your dermatologist’s advice. They do result in smoother, finer looking skin after a few treatments.

There are also commercially available AHA facial care solutions that can be applied daily. Some dermatologists will incorporate AHA into the daily skin care regimen of the patient. This may be in soaps, facial cleanser, etc.

Trichloroacetic acid (TCA) is the intermediate peel.  Medium-depth peeling can sometimes result in swelling and blisters that can last from 7 to 14 days.  To achieve the desired effect more than one peel may be necessary. It is also the ideal peel for fine lines, and blemishes that are not that severe.

Phenol is the most potent of the chemical peels around and they take some time to heal. They are recommended in cases that feature coarse wrinkles and severe blemishes such as blotching, coarse skin, etc. Phenol is also a strong whitening agent and this may be a factor in considering whether to choose this sort of treatment.

It must be remembered that this is primarily a facial treatment. Application to other parts of the body may result in scarring.

Among the things to look out for are: the possibility of demarcation lines — lines that show which part of the face received treatment and which did not, redness, irritation, and other side effects. The redness and irritation is normal since that is the usual state of newly peeled skin. Your dermatologist will advise you on the care and upkeep of tender skin.

For those who have undergone this treatment, it is generally recommended that they stay out of the sun for several months as to protect the newly formed skin. The procedure will cause stinging, redness and irritation. But that is to be expected from such procedures.

Chemical peels do not remove loose or sagging skin or remove deep scars.  They may improve the appearance of pore size or broken blood vessels on the face.

All in all, chemical peels are safe, although they may cause some inconvenience. The risks for scarring are low.  The procedure must be performed by a certified professional.


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