Chemical Peels Frequently Asked Questions
What is Chemical Peel?
Chemical peel is a method for removing the superficial layer of the skin. One or more peeling chemicals are applied to the skin resulting in destruction of the superficial part of the skin. This allows a new layer of skin lining to develop. This procedure allows the removal of the superficial lining of the skin. It may help to remove black/white heads of pimples, superficial scars and superficial benign skin growths.
Chemical peels should only be carried out by trained individuals. Complications from chemical peels may be irreversible.
Type of Chemical Peels
What is a Glycolic Acid Peel?
Glycolic acid is a group of naturally occurring substances often called "fruit acids". When applied to the skin it destroys the "glue" that holds dead cells on the surface of the skin. This allows the dead cells to slough off, leaving behind a smoother skin surface.
A high concentration of glycolic acid remove up to the upper layer of the skin (called the epidermis) exposing the lower layer of undamaged skin. It is generally used for mild skin scars and comedones.
TCA and Jessner's Peels
These peels use chemicals that are more toxic than glycolic acids to the skin. These peels cause destruction to the deeper layer of the skin, thus permitting the underlying new skin to resurface. It is generally used for treating deeper scars and skin growths.
What are the medical indications for chemical peels treatment?
What can I expect during and after a chemical peel?
When the chemical peel agent is applied to the skin you may feel a burning sensation for a few minutes. If TCA and Jessner's peels are applied on the skin, the skin will turn white and then pink.
For AHA peels there may be a transient pink discoloration which quickly returns to "normal" color. Occasionally very slight flaking in a few localized areas is seen for 1-2 days. Do not expect the skin to really peel.
For TCA and Jessner's peels, the skin may turn brown, feel dry, flake and peel for a few days.
You can have chemical peels done as an outpatient. For AHA peels you can return to work after the procedure without having to miss any time from work.
What must I do after a peel?
How many treatment sessions do I need?
To get best results peels have to be repeated. Most patients require 2-4 peels at 2-4 weeks intervals.
What are the possible complications of chemical peels and what to do if complications develop?
All complications are rare, prompt recognition and treatment is necessary to prevent scars.