How is a chemical peel applied?
A chemical peel can be performed in a doctor's office or in a clinic on an outpatient basis.
The skin is thoroughly cleansed with an agent that removes excess oils. Eyes and hair are protected. One or more chemical solutions are applied to the affected areas of the skin. The reaction to the chemicals produce a controlled wound, enabling new regenerated skin to appear.
Does the treatment hurt?
With TCA or Phenol peels, the chemicals act as an anesthetic, so there is little pain. During an AHA peel, there is a slight stinging sensation during the treatment. With deeper peels like the Phenol peel, the recovery time may last for over a week. With the lighter peels like AHA, there is little to no downtime.
Maintenance after the procedure
The different chemicals used and concentration thereof will have an effect on the overall results, recovery time and the ongoing maintenance.
Mild peels may be repeated at one to four-week intervals until the desired clinical effect is achieved. Medium to deep peels may be repeated at six to twelve month intervals, if necessary.
It is important to avoid exposure to the sun after a chemical peel since the new skin is fragile and more susceptible to infections and complications. Your doctor will prescribe the proper follow-up care to minimise the side-effects associated with the procedure.
Are there any side-effects of a chemical skin peel?
The deeper the chemical peel, the higher the chances of their being complications. Chemical peels are risky and need to be administered by certified dermatologists or medical practitioners.
In certain skin types, there is a risk of developing a temporary or permanent color change in the skin after a chemical peel. Taking birth control pills, subsequent pregnancy, or family history of brownish discoloration on the face may increase the possibility of developing abnormal pigmentation.
Although low, there is a risk of scarring, certain individuals may be more prone to scarring than others, which is why it is important for a patient to inform the physician of any past history of keloids or unusual scarring tendencies.
There is a small risk of reactivation of cold sores in patients with a history of herpes. This problem is treated with medication as prescribed by the doctor. Your doctor may also choose to give you medication before or immediately after the peel in order to prevent a herpes outbreak.
One of the most severe as well as the rarest complications associated with chemical peels- specifically the Phenol peel- is cardiac arrhythmia. A cardiotoxic chemical is used in the procedure, which is a chemical that has adverse effects on the heart.
Pro’s and Con’s of skin peels
- Reduces sun damage, fine lines, acne scars, dry or rough skin, dull skin tone, hyper pigmentation and enlarged pores.
- Improves the general appearance and condition of skin
- Dead skin cells are replaced by healthy ones improving skin clarity and brightness
- There is a risk of side effects from the chemicals used
- There is a risk of scarring or having permanent skin discolourations
- Increased sensitivity to sunlight and avoidance of sun exposure is usually advisable for several months after the treatment.