19 Apr Differences in Chemical Peels
There are many types of chemical peels because they are exactly what they sound like: a chemical cocktail that peels away the top layer(s) of the skin. Spectrum Dermatology offers a wide variety of the best, safest, and most effective chemical peels and each peel is matched to your skin, needs, and goals. Chemical peels work by removing damaged skin cells, revealing the brighter and more youthful skin below the surface. They also encourage the body to synthesize collagen at a higher rate at the chemical peel site. Collagen production is what makes our skin look young and healthy, but we produce less as we age.
There are three primary types of chemical peels, categorized by how deeply they penetrate the skin. Light (superficial), medium, and deep peels are available. As you can infer, light chemical peels are the mildest and gentlest. They typically require no downtime, though you may look pink for the first week or two after the application. Some mild sloughing may occur as the light peel removes the top layer of the skin’s surface. However, most clients do not feel like they need any downtime after a light peel.
Is a Chemical Peel for You?
Medium and deep chemical peels go much deeper and may require 2 – 3 weeks of recovery time. During this period, skin can feel tight but you will be able to work from home and undertake many of your daily tasks. The “downtime” associated with a medium or deep chemical peel is due to many clients feeling uncomfortable going out in public as their skin flakes away, but the physical discomfort is usually not very significant.
All chemical peel applications take just 30 – 90 minutes on average depending on placement sites. Chemical peels are popularly applied to the face, neck, decolletage, and even the tops of the hands. Peeling usually begins a few days after the application and can last 2 – 3 weeks.
What Chemical Peels Treat
Chemical peels can treat a wide variety of skin concerns including fine lines and wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, melasma, uneven skin tone, scars, and sun damage. Some chemical peels are safe for all skin tones and types, but others should only be applied to specific skin types. Since chemical peels work by peeling away the top layer(s) of skin, some chemical peels can cause unwanted lightening of darker skin tones. If you have a darker skin tone, there are chemical peels that are safe and effective for you, and remember that the skill of the professional applying the chemical peel is just as important as getting matched with the right chemical peel.
Every chemical peel is a little different, but there are often commonalities in the different depths of peels. Most superficial peels are made with very mild acids like alpha-hydroxy acid. This acid will only penetrate the top layer of the skin for a gentle exfoliation. It can still treat many common skin conditions, but only the milder cases. A medium peel often uses glycolic or trichloroacetic acid, which can penetrate both the outer and middle layer of the skin. A deep chemical peel usually uses trichloroacetic or phenol acid.
What to Expect During a Chemical Peel
All chemical peels are usually quick outpatient treatments. You will be given pre- and post-chemical peel instruction prior to your appointment—following these directions closely will greatly reduce your recovery time and improve your results. You may need to stop acne medications prior to a peel, and must avoid any retinol product for a few days beforehand. Do not use scrubs or exfoliants for a week before the peel, and also stop any depilatory or hair removal practices besides shaving.
During a light peel, the chemical is applied over the skin and you may feel a light stinging sensation. The chemical peel is then removed and a neutralizing solution is applied. No anesthetic or numbing agent is required for a light peel.
During a medium chemical peel, a light stinging sensation may be felt for about 20 minutes. A cool compress is applied to increase comfort. A medium peel requires no neutralizing solution. No anesthetic or numbing agent (beyond cool compresses or fans) is necessary during the application of a medium chemical peel. However, deep chemical peels require sedation. These peels are the most aggressive and many patients interested in this level of treatment may find they are a better fit for cosmetic surgery.
Learn more about chemical peels by scheduling your complimentary consultation with Spectrum Dermatology today. Book your appointment online now or contact the office.