Chemical Peels

What is a chemical peel?

Chemical peels are cosmetic treatments that can be applied to the face, neck and hands. They are used to improve the appearance and feel of the skin. During the procedure, a chemical solution is applied to the area being treated, which causes the skin to exfoliate and eventually peel off. Once this happens, the new skin underneath is much smoother, appears less wrinkled and will have less damage.

There are a variety of indications where chemical peels can be considered. They include:

  • Wrinkles and fine lines
  • Age spots
  • Sun damaged skin
  • Uneven skin tone or redness
  • Acne scars
  • Wound scars
  • Hyperpigmentation
  • Melasma (Dark discolored patches on skin)

Types of Chemical Peels:

Superficial Peel

During a superficial peel, the outer layer of skin is penetrated with alpha-hydroxy acid or another mild acid to gently exfoliate it. This treatment is used to improve the appearance of mild skin discoloration and rough skin as well as to refresh the face, neck, chest or hands.

  • During the procedure a cotton ball, gauze or brush will be used to apply the chemical solution to the area being treated.
  • The skin will start to whiten and may have a slight stinging sensation.
  • Once complete, the chemical solution will be removed and a neutralizing solution maybe added.

Medium Peel

Glycolic or Trichloroacetic acid is applied to penetrate the outer and middle layers of the skin to remove damaged skin cells. This treatment is used to improve age spots, fine wrinkles, freckles and moderate skin discoloration. It also can be used to smooth rough skin and treat some pre-cancerous skin growths.

  • During a medium chemical peel, the doctor will use gauze, special sponge or a cotton-tipped applicator to apply the chemical solution to your face.
  • A blue colour maybe added to the chemical solution,and it is then called ‘Blue Peel’.
  • The skin will begin to whiten and the doctor will apply a cool compress to the skin.
  • You may feel stinging or burning for up to 20 minutes.
  • No neutralizing solution is needed, though you may be givena cooling device to cool your skin.
  • If you have had the blue peel, you will have a blue tinge on your skin that will wash off within a few days.

Deep Peel

Trichloroacetic acid or phenol is applied to deeply penetrate the middle layer of the skin to remove damaged skin cells. It is used for moderate lines, age spots, freckles and shallow scars. This treatment causes a dramatic improvement in the skin appearance.

  • During a deep chemical peel, you will be sedated.
  • The doctor will use a cotton-tipped applicator to apply the chemical to your skin.
  • This will turn your skin white or gray.
  • The procedure will be done in multiple sittings of 15 minutes each to limit the skin exposure to the acid.

Chemical peels can have some common side effects that are temporary, namely redness, dryness, stinging or burning and slight swelling. With deep peel, you may permanently lose the ability to tan. Some of the severe side effects are darkening or lightening of the skin, scarring or infections. The healing time is variable and depends on the agent used and the depth of the peel.