If you’re considering chemical peel…
Chemical peel uses a chemical solution to improve and smooth the texture of the facial skin by removing its damaged outer layers. It is helpful for those individuals with facial blemishes, wrinkles and uneven skin pigmentation. Trichloroacetic acid (TCA), and alphahydroxy acids, (AHAs) are used for this purpose. The precise formula used may be adjusted to meet each patient’s needs.
Deciding if chemical peel is right for you Chemical peel is most commonly performed for cosmetic reasons — to enhance your appearance and your self confidence. Chemical peel may also remove pre-cancerous skin growths, soften acne facial scars and even control acne.
Alphahydroxy acids (AHAs), such as glycolic, lactic, or fruit acids are the mildest of the peel formulas and produce light peels. These types of peels can provide smoother, brighter-looking skin for people who can’t spare the time to recover from a TCA peel. AHA peels may be used to treat fine wrinkling, areas of dryness, uneven pigmentation and acne. Various concentrations of an AHA may be applied weekly or at longer intervals to obtain the best result. Your doctor will make this decision during your consultation and as the treatment proceeds. An alphahydroxy acid, such as glycolic acid, can also be mixed with a facial wash or cream in lesser concentrations as part of a daily skin-care regimen to improve the skin’s texture.
Trichloroacetic acid (TCA) can be used in many concentrations, but it is most commonly used for medium-depth peeling. Fine surface wrinkles, superficial blemishes and pigment problems are commonly treated with TCA. More than one TCA peel may be needed to achieve the desired result. The recovery from a TCA peel is usually four days.
All chemical peels carry some uncertainty and risk Chemical peel is normally a safe procedure when it is performed by a qualified, experienced physician. However, some unpredictability and risks such as infection and scarring, while infrequent, are possible.
AHA peels may cause stinging, redness, irritation and crusting. However, as the skin adjusts to the treatment regimen, these problems will subside. Your skin will feel as though you have a sunburn until it starts to peel usually 48 hours from the time of your peel.
The skin peels in most cases for 48 hours revealing a new youthful skin which appears pink and smooth initially. The skin then appears slightly bumpy for a day or so as new collagen is formed resulting in tightening of the skin.
With a TCA peel, your healed skin will be able to produce pigment as always; the peel will not bleach the skin. However, TCA-peel patients are advised to avoid sun exposure for several months after treatment to protect the newly formed layers of skin. TCA may produce some unintended color changes in the skin. This may be prevented by using a bleaching cream 2-3 weeks prior to treatment and usually occurs with darker skin. Patients should avoid the use of acid, retin A or accutane at least 6 months prior to a peel. Please alert our office if you used accutane recently. You should avoid prolonged sunlight and use a sunscreen of at least 50 SPF following a peel while your skin is healing. Hydrocortisone cream, aloe vera gel , and neosporin ointment may be used to alleviate redness, burning or itching associated with a peel. Chemical peels are not recommended for pregnant women.
PEEL FORMULAS AT A GLANCE
Alphahydroxy acids (AHAs)
- Smooths rough, dry skin
- Improves texture of sun-damaged skin
- Aids in control of acne
- Can be mixed with bleaching agent to correct pigment problems
- Can be used as TCA pre-treatment
- A series of peels may be needed
- As with most peel treatments, sunblock use is recommended
- Microdermabraisons are recommended in conjunction with this peel to receive optimal results
Trichloroacetic acid (TCA)
- Smooths out fine surface wrinkles
- Removes superficial blemishes
- Corrects pigment problems
- Can be used on neck or other body areas
- May require pre-treatment with Retin-A , AHA creams or microdermabrasions
- Treatment takes only 10-15 minutes
- Preferred for darker-skinned patients
- Peel depth can be adjusted
- Repeat treatment may be needed to maintain results
- Sunblock must be used for several months
PREPARING FOR YOUR CHEMICAL PEEL
Sometimes Retin A – a prescription medication derived from Vitamin A – is used to pre-treat the skin. This thins out the skin’s surface layer, allowing the TCA solution to penetrate more deeply and evenly. If your skin won’t tolerate Retin-A pre-treatment, an AHA cream may be used instead. Hydroquinone, a bleaching agent, is sometimes used in conjunction with Retin-A or AHA pre-treatment, especially if you have blotchy skin areas or pigmentation problems. You may have to spend a month or more in the pre-treatment phase before the doctor will schedule your actual peel. Microdermabrasions may also be used prior to a peel to thin out the skin layer allowing the peel to penetrate.
AHA peels/treatments: Our doctor or medical assistant will apply the AHA solution to your cleansed facial skin, a process that usually takes no more than 10 minutes. No “after-peel” ointment or covering is required. Depending on the strength of the peel, periodic treatments may be necessary until the desired effects are achieved.
For some patients, the application of an AHA-based face wash or cream once or twice a day at home will be sufficient to accomplish the desired goal. Our physicians may add Retin-A or a bleaching agent to your at-home treatment schedule. After several weeks of at-home use, your doctor will examine your skin to determine if your regimen needs adjustment.
TCA peels: Typically, the skin is first thoroughly cleansed. Then, our physician who will be assisted by a medical assistant will carefully apply the TCA solution. You may feel a stinging sensation as the peel solution is applied, but this feeling will quickly pass. A fan may be used to help ease the burning during the peel.
A full-face TCA peel usually takes no more than 15 minutes. Two or more TCA peels may be needed to obtain the desired result, and those may be spaced out over several months. Mild TCA peels may be repeated as often as every month.