The Effect

A peel or chemical peeling is a technique that can be used in addition to a facial treatment. This is done by applying a chemical solution that peels off dead skin, allowing new skin to regenerate, improving facial skin appearance.

The Procedure

The chemical peeling is done by thoroughly cleansing the face with an agent that removes excess oils, followed by one or more chemical solutions like glycolic acid, trichloroacetic acid, salicylic acid, lactic acid or phenol acid. These chemicals help in peeling off layers of skin to allow new skin to regenerate. A warm to hot sensation may be felt during the procedure lasting from five to ten minutes, and then followed with a stinging sensation. A deeper peeling process may be more painful and might require medication during or after the procedure.

Best Candidates

The peel is best for people with severely damaged skin. Patients who wish to undergo phenol peels must be in good health since phenols can cause arrhythmias. Also, good kidney and liver functions are necessary for the excretion and detoxification. Please be reminded that peels can damage excellent facial skin so check with the dermatologist before undergoing such treatment.

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Before the consultation, get a screening blood chemistry that includes blood urea nitrogen, creatinine and liver function. Also, during the peeling process, ECG monitoring is necessary.

Instructions on stopping certain medications and preparing the facial skin with pre-conditioning creams before the treatment will be given. The peeling procedure is usually done in the dermatologist’s office. And the dermatologist will be the one to suggest what peeling you need to get your desired results.

Side Effects

In chemical peeling for some skin types, there is a risk of developing a temporary or permanent color change in the facial skin. The development of abnormal pigmentation can also increase after peeling with the use of birth control pills, during pregnancy, or if there is a history of brownish discoloration on the face. There is also the risk of scarring after having chemical peels, although it can usually be treated with good results. There is also a small risk of reactivating cold sores or herpes simplex infection for those who have a history of fever blisters. This is the reason why it is important to inform the dermatologist of all past medical histories so that necessary precautions can be taken before going through with the treatment.

Recovery Time

A peeling treatment usually involves a burning sensation and redness followed by scaling for about three to five days. The medium and deep peeling can sometimes have swelling and blisters that may break, crust, turn brown and then peel off in a period of a week or two weeks. Even some peels may require surgical tape to be placed on treated skin. It is best to avoid overexposure to the sun after the chemical peel since the new facial skin is delicate and more sensitive. The dermatologist will be the one to instruct the follow-up care needed to heal after the chemical peel.


What does a chemical peel do?

Chemical peeling is a treatment used to eliminate fine lines or wrinkles caused by sun damage, aging, and hereditary factors. Peeling can also be used to treat mild scarring and some types of acne. Also, chemical peeling can help treat pigmentation of the skin like sun spots, age spots, liver spots, freckles, blotchiness from taking birth control pills, sun-damaged skin, scaling patches, and improve dull skin. It is best to use sunscreens to help lessen the chances of having these pigmentations in the future.

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What are the types of peels?

There are three main types of peels: the light peels using alpha hydroxyacids, which are naturally occurring acids found in fruits and other foods; the medium peels using trichloroacetic acid; and the deep peels using stronger chemicals.

Light peels are used to treat acne, dry skin, liver spots, wrinkles, decrease pore size and improving skin texture. Light peels are usually done in a series of six to eight peels, with each peel spaced two or three weeks apart. Light peels leave a red glow on the facial skin that lasts for only a day or two.

Medium peels have the same benefits of light peels although it can remove larger wrinkles and precancerous skin lesions due to deeper penetration. The problem with medium peels is that it makes the facial skin look like severe sunburn for a week. Medium peel patients should stay inside for a week to heal. Medium peels are also better than liquid nitrogen in treating very small precancers.

The deep peels are done to treat large wrinkles and the results can be almost like a Facelift. This deep peel recovery time is quite longer, taking around one to two months. Deep peel is now being replaced by laser resurfacing.

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What are the limitations of chemical peels?

Even if chemical peels remove most of the lines and can smooth the face, it cannot remove loose or sagging skin. Also, chemical peeling cannot remove deep scars, a grafting, elevation or resurfacing procedure may be needed to handle these concerns. Although be advised that while a chemical peeling cannot change pore size or remove broken blood vessels on the face, it can improve the appearance of such conditions.

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What are Alpha hydroxyacids?

The Alpha Hydroxyacid is known for its anti-aging effects and the fact that it is not toxic to skin. The AHA acids are derived from fruits and flowers that help in making skin smoother and look healthier. Alpha hydroxyacids are naturally occurring acids like lactic acid from sour milk; citric acid from citrus fruits like oranges and lemons; and glycolic acid from sugar cane. Alpha hydroxyacids are used in low concentrations in most over-the-counter cosmetics, in medium concentrations available in doctor’s offices, and in high concentrations in acid peels in the form of gylocic peels applied by a professional at intervals of three to six weeks.

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What are Trichloroacetic Acid Peels?

Trichloroacetic acid or TCA is used as an intermediate to deep peeling agents in concentrations ranging from 20-50%. The depth of penetration is increased as the concentration increases, with 50% of TCA penetrating into the reticular dermis. Concentrations more than 35% are not recommended due to the high risk of scarring.

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What are Phenol peels?

Phenol is the strongest of all chemical solutions, producing a deep skin peel. Current research says that the active component, croton oil, is just carried by phenol and is the one responsible to producing a deep skin peel. The truth is phenol only produces a light peel which cannot remove wrinkles. Phenol/croton peels’ effects are long lasting and can still be manifested up to 20 years. Improvements in the facial skin can be quite dramatic after the phenol/croton peel, and usually a single treatment is enough to reach the desired results.

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