Chemical peels are a common cosmetic procedure and widely used to treat:
- Sun damaged skin
- Acne scars
- Fine lines
- Solar spots
The peel acts by removing the most superficial layers of the skin. This is eventually replaced by new healthy younger looking skin. Today, there are many peels available.
The lighter strength peels can be applied at home, but the higher strength peels are usually applied by a dermatologist.
Peels can be applied as required. The superficial peels may be applied every 3-4 weeks whereas the higher strength peels are only applied once every 3-6 months
Prior the application of the peel, there rare no elaborate extensive preparations required. Despite the vast number of creams and lotions sold as pretreatment peeling creams, the majority are simple soaps or smooth detergents containing either small concentrations of tretinoin or hydroxyquinone.
In the morning, the face should be thoroughly washed to remove all the oils and soap. The majority of superficial chemical peels are not painful when applied. One may take a Tylenol prior to the procedure. The majority of deeper peels are painful and irritating to the skin and one may require some type of pain control such as local or general anesthesia.
The peel is then applied on the face as a thin paste and the eyes are avoided. The time of peel application is variable and the instructions for skin contact are always written on the package
The peel is then rinsed and the face is padded dry.
After the superficial peel, the skin will become red and there may be occasional swelling. The swelling may last about 24-48 hours. The skin resembles a sun burn for about a week. The majority of individuals can resume normal activities and can go out by wearing a make up.
The moderate of stronger strength peels cause more skin damage and there may be intense pain, swelling and redness of the face. This may persist anywhere from 7-10 days. After a stronger peel, most individuals need at least a few weeks off from work.
After the peel once should:
- Keep the skin cool and use a moist wet towel to pad the skin. This will sooth the pain and limit the skin irritation
- avoid scratching the skin as this will cause scarring
- apply a moisturizer as this will prevent dryness
- always wear a sun screen when going out
- apply a lighter strength ointment like Retinoic acid or Accutane at night