Chemical peels are techniques to improve the appearance of the skin. A chemical solution is applied to the skin. Depending on the depth of the peel the skin can “blister” and eventually peel off. Mild peels work in the depth of the skin and do not cause down time. They should be seen as in intense medical facial. The new, regenerated skin is smoother and less wrinkled than the old skin.
A chemical peel can be performed in a doctor’s office or as an outpatient procedure. The skin is thoroughly cleansed with an agent removing excess oils. One or more chemical solutions, such as glycolic acid, trichloroacetic acid (TCA), salicylic acid, lactic acid are applied to small areas on the skin.
These applications produce a controlled wound, enabling new, regenerated skin to appear.
During a chemical peel, patients will experience a burning sensation that lasts about five to ten minutes, followed by a stinging sensation. Cool compresses may be applied to help alleviate the stinging. A deeper peel may require pain medication during or after the procedure. Depending upon the type of chemical peel, a reaction similar to sunburn occurs following the procedure. Peeling usually involves redness, followed by scaling that ends within three to seven days. Mild peels may be repeated at one to four-week intervals until the desired clinical effect is achieved. Medium-depth and deep peeling may result in swelling, as well as the presence of water blisters that may break, crust, turn brown, and peel off over a period of seven to 14 days. Medium-depth peels may be repeated in six to twelve months, if necessary.
Though the vast majority of chemical peels are performed without complication, burns may happen. Another common complication is a change of pigmentation.
With certain skin types and peels, there is a risk of developing a temporary or permanent colour change in the skin after a chemical peel. Taking birth control pills, subsequent pregnancy, or family history of brownish discoloration on the face increases the possibility of developing abnormal pigmentation. Although low, there is a risk of scarring in certain areas of the face, and certain individuals may be more prone to scarring. If scarring does occur, it can usually be treated with good results. Also, there is a small risk of reactivation of cold sores in patients with a history of herpes outbreaks.