What is a Chemical Peel?

A chemical peel is a common cosmetic procedure conducted in your dermatologist’s office, with your doctor applying a chemical solution to your skin and allowing it to soak in for a determined length of time, then neutralized with either water or an alcohol solution. The solution then works within the skin’s layers over the course of several days, causing the topmost layers of skin to peel off naturally. With these uppermost skin layers destroyed in a carefully controlled way, newer, fresher skin grows in its place and is revealed when the skin is fully healed.

There are three different types of chemical peels that your dermatologist will choose from, depending on the particular skin issues you wish to solve:

  • Superficial peels are the mildest type of chemical peel, most often able to be used on all skin types, with the chemical – often safe and effective glycolic acid — left on the skin for a limited length of time. This type of peel is used to improve fine wrinkles, mild sun damage, pigment changes in the skin, and acne scars. This type of mild peel can be done on the face and on other parts of the body.
  • Medium peels use a slightly stronger chemical agent and penetrate the skin more deeply than superficial peels, causing a second-degree burn that peels off skin to treat mild to moderate wrinkles, more dramatic long-term sun damage, pigment changes, and precancerous lesions of the skin often caused by that long-term sun damage. This type of peel is most often used only on the face.
  • Deep peels use a chemical called phenol to penetrate deeper into the skin, causing a second-degree burn of the skin to treat severe wrinkles, lesions and growths on the skin, long-term sun damage, and pronounced pigment changes. This type of intensive peel is used only on the face, and is not used on darker skin tones, since they can bleach the skin.

Your dermatologist will assess your skin’s flaws to determine the precise strength of chemical peel solution, and the amount of time it is left on your skin to penetrate to the proper depth, and your doctor will also take into account the amount of time you have to recover from the various types of chemical peel strengths. A deep peel, for instance, will result in more redness and burn appearance than a superficial peel, and your lifestyle and obligations might be hindered by the need for more recovery time.

You will need to prepare your skin prior to a chemical peel, with your doctor-recommended process of cleansing and using a special moisturizing cream once or twice a day, and sunscreen every day. Your doctor may also recommend use of a Retin-A product to help prepare your skin for your peel. Following these steps to the letter is essential, so that your skin will peel more evenly, heal more quickly after the peel, and avoid after-peel infections or complications.

If you will have a medium or deep peel of the face, your doctor may prescribe an anti-viral medication to prevent infection.

When devised and applied by your dermatologist, a chemical peel can effectively improve many of the fine lines and flaws on your face, for a fresher-looking you.

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