One of the simplest ways to transform the appearance of your skin is with a chemical peel. This procedure can enhance your overall complexion as well as improve the appearance of many common skin conditions such as acne, dark spots, wrinkles, and freckles.
Dermatologic surgeons have been using peeling agents for decades to correct flaws in the skin. The strength and depth of the chemical peel used depends on the condition being treated as well as the amount of improvement desired. The general rule is: the deeper the peel, the longer the recovery period.
Your Chemical Peel Options
Glycolic Acid Peels
The glycolic acid peel is the most conservative peel and is designed to exfoliate the outermost layer of the skin. It is very safe and effective controlling certain types of acne as well as lightening dark patches known as melasma. Because it is such a superficial peel, there is little to no associated recovery time. The skin may appear pink for a short time after treatment and may be slightly drier for a few days.
Jessner’s Acid Peel
Jessner acid peels, although they are still superficial in nature, are slightly stronger and go somewhat deeper into the skin. This peel is beneficial for the improvement of skin tones and texture. This is also a great peel for patients with oily or acne-prone skin.
There is little recovery time needed for this treatment. After these peels, the skin may also appear a brownish in color and feel a little tighter. Mild peeling may be noticed in a few days following the peel.
These mild to moderate chemical peels are sometimes referred to as “lunch time” peels because they literally take just minutes to perform and generally the patient may return to their activities without any disruption.
Trichloroacetic acid is used for medium depth chemical peels. This acid can go much deeper into the skin, removing a portion of the dermis. Trichloroacetic acid is very useful for the treatment and correction of sun damage. It may be used to remove skin freckling and other pigmentation irregularities, as well as pre-cancerous changes in the skin. Some improvement with fine lines and scars is noted with these peels.
Immediately after this peel, the skin is pink to red in color and feels very tight. Because of the depth of this peel a recovery period is needed. Peeling of the skin begins in 2 – 3 days and may last for as long as 7 – 14 days.
What They Treat
Chemical peels remove the damaged outer layer of skin and allow healthy new skin to form in its place. They leave the skin looking smoother and more uniform in color. Chemical peels can be used over the entire body to improve sun damage, mild scarring and fine lines, and irregular pigmentation.
However, chemical peels are not the answer to every skin imperfection. They will not improve loose or sagging skin, nor will they change deep furrows or scars significantly.