Chemical Peel: Another Way to Peel Good
A chemical peel is a technique to improve the appearance of facial skin by means of special chemical solutions. These solutions gradually remove the outermost layer of the skin, which is affected by wear and tear, and/or infection, and shows unwanted blemishes, wrinkles, or ugly pigmentation. The older skin, peeled off by the solutions, is replaced by naturally growing, younger, and smoother skin. Chemical peel is therefore a kind of cosmetic treatment for facial skin.
Chemical peels are usually named after the solution used in peeling the skin. Some better-known types of chemical peel include Alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) peels, Trichloroacetic acid (TCA) peels, Beta hydroxy acid (BHA) peels, Phenol peels, and Jessner’s peel. AHA peels, Phenol peels, and TCA peels are more commonly used for improving the texture of facial skin.
Chemical peels can be performed in the cosmetic surgeon’s office. The patient is generally not given anesthesia, though sedation may be given before or during the peeling procedure in order to soothe the tingling sensations caused by the chemical solution. Phenol and TCA peels act as local anesthetics.
Before applying the peeling solution, the patient’s skin is treated with a preparatory agent that facilitates skin peeling. In most cases, commonly used preparatory agents include Retin A, Hydroquinone, and AHA cream. A combination of these might be used, depending on the type of skin and the facial treatment. The pre-treatment phase of chemical peeling usually lasts about a month.
The patient’s face is thoroughly cleansed before the peeling solution is applied. This takes 10 to 15 minutes. AHA solution is a mild chemical and is used to treat fine wrinkles, light skin pigmentation, and mild acne. TCA and Phenol are stronger solutions, and must be used with greater care. The first application of these solutions stings the skin. However, this discomfort quickly disappears.
Phenol peels are chemically the strongest, and hence require the greatest care. These are used to treat deep wrinkles and even precancerous growths. A Phenol peel for the complete face usually takes one to two hours. For deeper peels, the surgeon may apply petroleum jelly or a waterproof adhesive tape to the treated area. In lighter treatment, this is unnecessary. In rare cases, the surgeon may choose to give general anesthesia to the patient before applying phenol solution to the skin. Phenol peel gives lasting effect, in some cases, up to twenty years.
Light, superficial chemical peels are mostly risk free, and cause only minor irritation or tingling. However, deeper chemical peels are associated with risks such as scarring, redness, and discoloration of the treated area and infection. There’s no recovery time for lighter peels; the patient does not have to wait for the skin to heal. They are also comparatively less expensive than deeper peels, whose recovery time ranges from several weeks to several months. Deeper peels usually cost more than superficial chemical treatments of the skin.