What is a chemical peel?
Chemical peel is a technique used to improve the appearance of the skin. It involves application of a chemical solution to the skin in a controlled manner which causes the skin to separate and peel off. It produces controlled tissue death. The peeling of the old skin allows new skin to regenerate which is smoother and less wrinkled. The chemical peeling agents can cause superficial, medium or deep depth peel depending on the peeling agent and technique. The newer peel options and the formulation have reduced the downtime for the peel and hence patients can return to their normal routine immediately. Hence peels have gained popularity and emerged as an effective and easy anti aging process.
What are the indication?
A thorough evaluation by your doctor is necessary before choosing a chemical peeling treatment. Common indications for peels are as following –
- Treatment for Acne – Inflammatory acne, grade 1 -2 acne, superficial acne scars.
- Pigmentation Disorders – Melasma, Peri-orbital darkening, post inflammatory hyper-pigmentation, sun spots, age spots, freckles, skin that is dull in texture.
- Facial rejuvenation – Superficial wrinkles (Deep wrinkles don’t improve with peels)
What a chemical peel treatment wont do?
- Treat deep facial lines
- Tighten loose or sagging skin
- Remove broken capillaries
- Change pore size
- Remove deep scars
Preparation steps for the chemical peeling treatment
- Selection of the depth of the peel – Identify the depth of the lesion/pigmentation. Whether the pigmentation is epidermal or dermal and then choose the peeling agent. Determine the color and type of skin i.e. skin type 1 – 5 (1- being the fairest and 5- being the darkest).
- Priming of the skin – Prescribing few pre-conditioning creams to achieve better results and helps in uniform and better penetration of the peel.
- Test peel – A test peel can be performed two weeks prior to the full face peeling.
- Counseling patients for avoidance of any sun holiday, 1 month after a peel and importance of application of a sunscreen .
Chemical peel procedure
- Procedure should always be performed by a registered dermatologist.
- Skin is cleansed and degrease with a cleanser which removes excess of oil and dirt in order to allow equal and deeper penetration of the peel.
- Eyes and hair are covered.
- The peeling agent is then applied with an applicator uniformly over the face avoiding the corners of the mouth, nose and eyes.
- The peeling agent is allowed to remain on skin for the desired time.
- At all times the doctor needs to check for any irritation or red spots or excessive burning experienced by the patient. If required, immediately neutralize those areas.
- Neutralizing of the peel with water or the neutralizing agent.
- Last step which I follow in my clinic very meticulously is to rinse the skin with ice cold water to allow complete neutralization of the peel. This prevents any burns or rash.
- Application of any post peel cream followed by a sunscreen.
What to expect after completing a chemical peel?
It depends entirely on the peel used for the patient. The newer superficial peeling doesn’t result in any visible peeling but helps in overall skin regeneration and disappearance of the sun spots. Superficial peeling can cause redness followed by slight scaling for 3 – 4 days. Medium depth and deep peeling sometimes can result in swelling and small multiple blister formation which dry up and turn brown and then start too peel off leaving behind a new regenerated skin. This takes 7 – 14 days or longer. It is very important to avoid sun exposure between 10 am to 4 pm and avoid any sun holiday 1 month post a medium or deep peel. A post peel routine will be prescribed by the doctor. To keep the skin hydrated and well moisturized is the key factor post peel to allow better and faster recovery.
What are the results of a chemical peel?
- Improved skin texture
- Decreased appearance of fine lines
Results will improve after repeated treatments
Medium depth peel
- Skin will be smoother.
- Disappearance of the uneven texture and rough skin.
- Disappearance of patchy pigmentation.
Deep depth peel
- Dramatic improvement in the look and feel of treated areas.
- A new fresh regenerated skin free from lines and age spots.
However patient needs to be counseled about permanent and meticulous use of sunscreen and the results are not permanent . As you age you’ll continue to acquire lines and new sun damage can also reverse results and the skin color.