With the advent of Chemical Peeling the search for smoother and more beautiful skin can come to an end. Conditions such as fine wrinkles, freckling, blotchy pigmentation, sun damage, precancerous lesions, shallow acne scars, or just dull skin can effectively improve with this technique. Certain chemicals are applied to the skin to produce controlled shedding of several layers of damaged cells.

The fresh layer of skin produced during the healing process leads to even color, smooth texture, and tighter skin. The best candidates for chemical peels are those with fair and thin skin. Deeper peels are not recommended for highly pigmented skin. It must be remembered that chemical peeling does not prevent aging, although it can remove fine wrinkles.

PRIOR TO THE TREATMENT

A complete medical history and a careful examination will be done in the initial preoperative visit to determine the general health of the patient. The surgeon will also evaluate the skin condition and desired areas of enhancement to determine what type of peel and timing would be right for the patient. Photographs may also be taken before and after the treatment to determine the extent of improvement. Three major types of chemicals are available in chemical peels. An alphahydroxy peel is very light and removes slight wrinkling, mild scarring, and blotchy skin. The procedure takes about 15 minutes and redness usually subsides by the end of the same day. For a moderate peel, TCA can be used to clear moderate aging lines, heavier scarring, and yellowing skin. Advanced scarring and wrinkles can be cleared with a deep phenol peel, in a procedure that last about one to two hours and requires a mild sedation.

THE TREATMENT

A chemical peel treatment is usually done in an outpatient surgical center unless a full-face TCA peel is done which may require an overnight stay. No anesthesia is needed in most cases since the chemical itself acts as an anesthetic and the procedure takes from between 15 minutes to one hour. The procedure begins with a complete cleansing of the area to be treated and the chemical is applied with a swab applicator. This results in a slight burning and stinging sensation followed by some throbbing. Depending on how deep the peel either an ointment or a bandage is applied to the treated area.

AFTER THE TREATMENT

Average peeling time is 5-7 days and heaviest peeling can be expected during days 3-5. There is no pain during this time; however, the skin appears to be sunburned. Any type of peel will make the skin more sensitive to sunlight for at least 6-8 weeks. It is important to protect the skin with sunscreen and hats or completely avoiding strong sunlight.