What are chemical peels?
Chemical peels are a skin treatment that targets visibly improving the tissue structure treated with external application of various exfoliating solutions. The results can range from simple stimulation of the skin’s natural exfoliating process to complete removal of the epidermis, mainly through coagulation and protein synthesis, thus making your skin look significantly fresher, thicker, rejuvenated, and with visible contour and reduced imperfections.
What is a chemical peel used for?
Chemical peels are a procedure that is performed for both aesthetic and medical purposes. They can reduce fine lines and wrinkles, the size of pores and dark spots on the skin of the face and hands, as well as the depth of scars caused by acne or measles. Moreover, chemical peels are often used as an adjunct to medical therapy in order to reduce inflammatory changes in acne or to reduce the scars left after the active phase of this skin disorder.
Types of chemical peels
Chemical peeling is a controlled chemical burn of the skin, resulting in partial or complete destruction of the upper layer of skin – the epidermis. Subsequently, the skin begins to whiten and stimulating and regenerating processes begin in it. Depending on the depth of action of the acid, chemical peels are divided into 3 categories: superficial, medium-deep and deep. Exactly what peeling, as well as the amount of procedures required for each patient, determines the specialist. It is good to know that superficial peels can also be done by a beautician in the salon, but procedures such as medium-deep and deep peels must be performed by a dermatologist. Which peeling is most suitable depends on the needs and preferences of the patient, as well as on the professionalism and experience of the dermatologist.
Superficial peels are used to even out the skin complexion, to correct fine wrinkles, dry skin, pigmentation and acne, to make the skin look fresher, and to reduce oiliness. Exfoliation is insignificant or not present at all. Superficial peels are usually performed by applying alpha-hydroxy acids (ACA) – glycolic, lactic or other fruit acid, beta hydroxy acid (BHC) – salicylic acid in low concentrations, Trichloroacetic acid (TCA), and retinol in low concentrations. The treatment is applied once a week, but depending on the reactivity and sensitivity of the treated skin, the period between the procedures can be increased or decreased.
Medium deep peeling – visibly improves the relief and color of the skin.
Medium-deep chemical peels are applied in an attempt to treat deeper lines and wrinkles, acne scars and pigmentation. Research shows that they visibly improve the feel and color of the skin. Exfoliation is significant and lasts about 3-5 days after the treatment. The most commonly used chemical agent for medium-deep chemical peels is trichloroacetic acid (THA). The acid is usually applied once a week, but with a slower recovery it can be applied at longer intervals.
Deep chemical peels are a procedure that involves many serious side effects. Therefore, it is rarely used in daily dermatological practice. It usually achieves deep exfoliation of the skin, corrects deep wrinkles and scars, radically rejuvenating the skin. However, the chemical agents used are highly toxic and can cause general damage to the body. Deep peels usually involve the use of phenol and require anesthesia.
Special skin care after the treatment
Although after the procedure the skin is significantly softer and smoother, it is also very sensitive. Therefore, it requires special care in order for it to fully recover. The recovery period depends on the peel depth.
In superficial peels, the skin is usually slightly reddish and irritated for a day after the procedure. After the redness fades, the dead skin cells slightly peel off the skin.
In medium-deep chemical peels the skin becomes moderately red after the treatment. It thickens and within 2 days it starts forming a reddish-brown crust, which eventually cracks and peels of in the form of flakes, giving way to new, fresher and undamaged skin. In medium-deep peels it is important for the skin to restore and regenerate under medical supervision. The deeper the peeling, the more contraindications there are.
One of the most important parts of the special post-treatment skin care routine is applying sunscreen with the highest possible SPF, regardless of the depth of the peel. In this period the skin is significantly more sensitive to sunburn. Moreover, dermatologists’ advice is to apply and antiseptic cream in order for your skin to recover faster.