Written by Dr. Ellen Gendler
A chemical peel is a method of skin resurfacing where your dermatologist will topically apply a chemical to the skin, causing the old layer to exfoliate and peel off, revealing fresh, regenerated skin. In just minutes, acids will dissolve dead skin cells, triggering new cellular growth at the surface and increasing collagen production. The result: a fresh face – a skin reset. In addition, the sloughing off of old skin cells makes it so that your skin is more receptive to skin-care product, since no dead cells impede the penetration of the product into the skin.
Peels are great for people with acne and/or acne scarring, textured skin that needs smoothing, discoloration, and/or hyper-pigmentation. A chemical peel is a more cost-effective alternative to skin resurfacing if laser is not in your budget, as you’ll see results from a peel after just one session, as opposed to laser that takes up to 3 sessions to results.
What you experience will depend on which of the three chemical peels you choose to receive:
Regardless of the type of peel you are getting, you will need to avoid sun exposure for at least 5 days (7-10 days is recommended after medium and deep peels)
When performed by a licensed dermatologist, a chemical peel treatment is clinically safe. However, if you have dark skin, be sure that the esthetician or dermatologist is using acids that are right for your color in order to reduce the risk of hyperpigmentation.
Stay away from the sun and from acid products 5-7 days prior to your treatment, as this will cause your skin to be more sensitive and more prone to feeling burning or discomfort during the procedure. As long as you are properly prepared for your peel, it is unlikely you’ll experience major discomfort.
Sun sensitivity and visual peeling are the effects that everyone is prone experience.
Hyperpigmentation and/or scarring is possible if your doctor has not used the right acids for your skin.
In addition, people carrying the herpes simplex virus may experience an outbreak following a treatment, so doctors recommend increasing antiviral medication prior to and during the peel.
Results are immediate.
Results and peel frequency depend entirely on the type of peel: deep peels should only be performed once every 6-8 weeks, while lunchtime peels, when gentle enough, can be performed up to 2 times per month.Many patients like to get a medium or deep peel whenever the season changes, to help their skin adjust to the changing environment.
A chemical peel cannot dramatically reduce wrinkles or sagging skin – these conditions must be treated with laser procedures or cosmetic surgery.