Chemical Peel
Chemical Peel

Chemical Peel

Chemical peeling, also known as derma is peeling or chemexfoliation, is exactly what it says – peeling of the skin by means of chemical materials.

chemical peel is a technique that uses a chemical solution to remove the outer layers of the skin. When this happens, the skin blisters and eventually peels off. The new skin is rejuvenated and is usually smoother and less wrinkled.

The kind of chemical peel differs on the type of chemicals used and how deep the chemical penetrates. Acid concentration, number of coats applied and the time before acid neutralization are factors that affect the depth of a chemical peel. The deeper the chemical peel, the more dramatic its effects and gives higher risks, longer healing time and increased pain.

Chemical peels are divided into three types – superficial, medium-depth and deep peel.

Superficial peel is the most popular and commonly used. Since it is the mildest type of chemical peel, it can be used on all skin types and work by removing only the outer layer of cells, giving the skin a light exfoliation for a healthy glow. The most common chemicals used are mild glycolic acid and solid carbon dioxide.

Medium-depth peel penetrates into the skin more deeply compared to superficial peels. Although it may cause a second-degree burn, it reduces acne scars and small wrinkles. The main peeling chemical used is TCA (trichloroacetic acid).

Deep peels, which penetrate several lower layers of the skin, are not widely available. It also causes second-degree burn, yet can lessen and even remove deeper lines, scars and wrinkles. The most common chemical used in deep peels are phenol.

Also Known As: Chemexfoliation, Derma Peeling, TCA Peels, Phenol Peels

History of Chemical Peel

For thousands of years, women have used various substances (such as grape skins, alabaster, mustard poultices and sour milk) to improve skin complexion.

Even Cleopatra and ancient Romans used food acids to peel their skin. During the 1900s, American and European women underwent non-surgical peels. However, it was only in the 1950s that the phenol peel was developed.

Although phenol is an effective chemical to treat years of wrinkles, it was given a reputation for serious complications such as scarring, pigmentation and de-pigmentation. However, phenol peel that is done under controlled conditions can provide safe and effective results.

Due to the phenol’s reputation, a gentler acid called Trichloroacetic acid became more popular since it is not accompanied by serious side effects.

Benefits of Chemical Peel

The benefits of chemical peels may depend on the patient’s condition and the kind of peels to be used.

* Superficial peels improve appearance of pigment changes of the skin, mild sun damage, fine wrinkles and acne scars for all skin types. It can treat the face or body part and can be used in preparation for a deeper chemical peel.

* Medium-depth peels will benefit patients with mild to moderate wrinkles, pigment changes, long-term sun damage, and a pre-cancerous skin lesions caused by sun exposure. This kind of chemical peel is usually used on the face.

* Deep peels will benefit patients with severe wrinkles, pronounced pigment changes, long-term sun damage and lesions of the skin. It is only used in treating the face and is not done with dark skin types to prevent skin bleaching.

Candidate for Chemical Peel Procedure

Generally, all fair-skinned and light-haired patients are the ideal candidate for a chemical peel treatment. Although dark skin types can also produce good results, it will depend entirely on the condition being treated.

Medium-depth and deep chemical peels shall not be administered if the patient has allergies, herpes infection on the area to be treated and an impaired immune system. In addition, patients who underwent recent facial surgery and usage of isotretinoin cannot be treated with any chemical peel treatment.

The Chemical Peel Procedure

Generally, patients will be treated, regardless of chemical peel type, without anesthesia. However, EKG monitoring and sedation may be used.

The dermatologist, skin care professional or doctor will help you decide on what depth of peel and type of chemical solution is most appropriate based on skin type, area to be peeled and desired results.

Two to three weeks before the peel, daily skin care regimen, using moisturizer and sunscreen, should be followed.

Each type of chemical peel procedure is treated differently.

* Superficial chemical peel is the easiest and quickest treatment. After the face is cleansed, a liquid or paste chemical is applied to the skin and left for two to seven minutes (depending on the chemical used). Mild stinging may occur. It is then washed off with water to neutralize the acid. One or two hours after the peel, the skin will look pink and may show soft discoloration.

* Medium-depth chemical peel is similar to superficial peels. However, the chemical used is left for longer periods. During this treatment, the burning sensation is more painful since it usually uses stronger chemicals that soak deeper into the skin. Cool saline compresses are applied to neutralize the acid. The entire procedure takes about twenty minutes. Swelling of the face, stinging and burning will last for an hour after treatment.

* Deep chemical peels are the most painful type of chemical peel. It also takes the most time and it is considered the most complicated. The doctor may give pain relievers or local anesthesia to freeze the face. After cleansing the skin, the chemical (usually phenol) will be applied and given time to penetrate. The chemical is left for at least 30 minutes before being neutralized. Depending on the area being treated, the entire procedure may take an hour to an hour and a half.

Side Effects of Chemical Peel

A patient may experience side effects from all types chemical peels such as swelling, redness, temporary throbbing and acute sensitivity to the sun. For deep chemical peels, a patient may experience permanent loss of ability to tan and permanent lightening of the skin.

Recovery After Chemical Peel Procedure

The recovery time after chemical peeling depends on the depth of peel and the chemical used.

* Superficial peels can cause slight discomfort after the treatment. In general, patients can return to daily activities immediately. Since minimal peeling occurs, the skin may only turn pink and concealed by makeup to hide redness. This chemical peel treatment can be repeated weekly for a period of six weeks to maximize its effects.

* Medium peels can cause second-degree burns. For this reason, you may need a five to seven days off to recover. Although there is no pain after the peel, swelling around the area may occur. The skin treated will become dark brown in 3 days, then become crusty, and will eventually flake and peel over the next several days. To reach your desired effect, repeat the treatment monthly and maintain it with a chemical peel every six to twelve months.

* Deep chemical peels can also cause second-degree burns. However, it is accompanied by moderate to severe pain for several days. Re-growth of the skin will begin within ten to 14 days after the peel and will produce an extremely red skin for three weeks. Most patients take this time off from work. It takes around several months for the skin to heal completely. One treatment yields dramatic results and can last for ten years.

Surgical facility

chemical peel is usually performed in a surgery center or a doctor’s office as an outpatient procedure. It is applied by beauty therapists, medical staff, dermatologists, plastic surgeons or anyone trained to administer chemical peels.

Chemical Peel Cost

In general, the cost of chemical peels will depend on several factors – type of chemical peel as well as the expertise and qualifications of the person administering the peel. Costs to consider will include the surgeon fee, facility bill and aftercare costs.

The cost of chemical peel largely depends on the type of peel to be administered. The costs of peels start at $150 to $300 for superficial peels, or $1,000 to $1,200 medium-depth chemical peel and $2,500 to $6,500 for deep chemical peels.

Since chemical peels are administered for cosmetic purposes, health insurance policies will not cover the cost of these procedures. Discuss with your surgeon about the options for covering the chemical peel costs.


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