A chemical peel is a skin resurfacing procedure in which a chemical solution is applied to the skin to peel away the top layers. There are a variety of chemical solutions that can be used at different depths to target your skin concerns. Chemical peels are used to treat wrinkles, skin discoloration, improve texture, minimize scarring,minimize acne and to shrink dilated pores. Chemical peels differ from microdermabrasion due to the fact that with a microdermabrasion we are filing down the top layers of dead skin cells and stimulating collagen and blood flow to the skins surface. With a chemical peel, the chemical is absorbed into the skin and accelerates skin cell turnover and regenerates new skin growth. They are both amazing procedures that will help your skin be youthful and healthy. Plus, it is very common to have a microdermabrasion or a dermaplane and a light peel done at the same time. This will actually help the acid penetrate deeper because we are eliminating the amount of layers that the chemical has to absorb through. The result is healthier, smoother and younger skin.

Chemical peels are categorized by depths. Light, medium and deep.

Most commonly used light peels are Lactic, Glycolic, Jessner and Salicylic. With a light peel most patients experience a mild tingling or burning sensation. This is sometimes described as tiny ant bites. This will typically last for approximately 10 minutes or until the acid is neutralized. Also, you may experience a little more tingle if you have undergone a dermaplane or a microdermabrasion prior to the peel and you also may experience mild flaking for up to 5 days. You get more bang for your buck when doing a combination treatment. Most light peels slowly slough away the dead skin cells and this is rarely visible. Lack of peeling does not mean that your peel is not working! If you would like faster acceleration, you should consider pairing a light peel and a microdermabrasion or a dermaplane or possibly consider a medium depth peel. You can expect improvement in skin texture and tone, as well as a decrease in fine wrinkles. The results will be subtle at first, but with repeated treatments you can expect that firm healthy glowing beautiful skin from your younger days.

The most commonly used medium depth peel is Trichloroacetic acid peels or TCA peels. This peel can be performed in a doctor’s office with a mild sedative and pain reducer. It is also commonly done under anesthesia if a patient is having another procedure, but it is not typical to be put to sleep just for a TCA peel. With the Obagi Blue Peel a special blue dye has been added that allows us to monitor the absorption of the TCA, hence the name Blue Peel. It is a slow acting solution that helps remove dead skin cells and stimulate the production of new skin cells, resulting in improved texture and tone of the skin. You can have up to two TCA Peels a year. If you are considering a TCA Peel, it is important to note that you must be prepped for at least two months with Tretinoin ( Retin-A) and Hydrquinone. Also, when having the Obagi Blue Peel you will be blue for several days. So some time off will be needed, unless you are part of the Blue Man Group! 😆 

Phenol is the classic deep chemical peel. Phenol peel solutions are very painful and most practitioners will perform it under either general anesthesia, administered by an anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist. More recent formulas easily allow a simple heavy sedation, usually intravenous. Most people are choosing to have laser resurfacing to avoid the toxicity effect that is a risk with phenol acid.

iStock_000018102934SmallBottom line, no matter what your skin care concerns, there is a chemical peel that can help. Unfortunately, there is not just one magical solution that you only do once and never have to repeat if you are wanting to maintain your results. It is no different than exercising. Plus when it comes down to it, how much money do you spend on your clothes? You wear your skin every day! You owe it to yourself to have the most amazing first impression every day!

Put your best face forward
Ginger K. Francis
Medical Aesthetician