The wear and tear of a busy life takes its toll on our skin. Every…
The combination of the words “chemical” and “peel” can provoke some pretty nasty mental images, but in reality a chemical peel is a routine and relatively pain-free procedure. A chemical peel works exactly how you would expect, by using medical chemicals to remove impurities and imperfections in the top layer of your skin.
There are a variety of different methods used in chemical peeling, as well as several different types of chemicals. You might have heard of one or two of them, but instead of asking for a specific peel that you have heard about, you should instead spend your consultation time discussing your desired results with your specialist. They will have the required expertise to recommend a peel, which is suitable for your aims, skin tone and any pre-existing skin conditions you may have.
There are many types of chemical peels, but the one most frequently used is the croton oil or phenol peel. It might surprise you to learn that the history of this treatment stretches as far back as the 1920s. But it was only in the early 2000s, when Dr Gregory Hetter and Dr Richard Bensimon revived research into the treatment, that the procedure started to become popular again.
This type of chemical peel works deeper than other types, making it more effective in battling wrinkles and other imperfections in the skin. However, due to the more intensive nature of phenol peels, they are only suitable for patients with fair skin. Darker skinned patients who use phenol peels run an increased risk of scarring.
The Trichloracetic Acid – or TCA – peel is most often recommended to patients with darker skin pigment. It is the least harsh form of chemical peel, but a deeper peel may be achieved by using a Retin A pre-treatment to allow the TCA to better penetrate into the skin. The primary advantage of TCA for darker skinned patients is that it does not bleach the skin, and its milder formulation reduces the risk of scarring.
Alphahydroxy Acid – or AHA – peels are slightly stronger than TCA peels but still milder than the more common phenol peel. This chemical is commonly used in the pharmaceutical business and can even be found in some OTC skin creams and solutions. AHA peels are often prescribed to patients suffering from acne, as it can fight the signs of acne scarring without further damaging the skin.
Only patients with low to moderate cases of acne are eligible for AHA peels, and some patients may be instructed to use other methods to control the acne before they can undergo a peel. As some acne treatments are not compatible with this kind of peel your chemical peel specialist will consult with you beforehand, on which is the best course of action for you,
As with any cosmetic treatment, a chemical peel requires appropriate aftercare to alleviate discomfort and to ensure that you receive the desired results. This is particularly important after a medium to deep peel, where some discomfort or mild irritation may occur.
Many patients use creams containing Aloe Vera to decrease discomfort and to promote natural healing of the skin. Patients may also topically apply lidocaine gels to the facial area, as this contains a mild anaesthetic as an active ingredient and is very effective at alleviating the discomfort.
In the event of increased or prolonged discomfort, consult your surgeon or specialist on what additional medication you can take. Dr Shahidi, a specialist from Sydney, can assess the results of your treatment and give you advice on how to administer at-home care in a safe and comfortable manner.
While a light chemical peel should result in little to no discomfort, the slightly more intensive levels of treatment involved in medium and deep chemical peels can lead to some discomfort for a short time after the treatment. This discomfort should not last more than about 48 hours. If you’re still feeling burning or other irritated skin sensations after two days, then make an appointment to see your consultant or specialist for their expert opinion.
After two weeks you should be ready for a follow up chemical peel procedure if you want or require one. Your specialist can schedule this for you and can make the necessary assessments to check that your skin is ready for a follow up session.
All chemical peels are outpatient procedures that take place in a cosmetic surgery or day clinic. This means that you won’t require an overnight stay in a hospital. Most light peel procedures will be carried out without an anaesthetic, but medium to deep peels may require a local or even a general anaesthetic to prevent discomfort during the treatment. After receiving an anaesthetic, you should not drive yourself home. Instead, arrange for a friend of family member to come and collect you.
Chemical peels take a long time: This is untrue. While the time taken to complete a chemical peel procedure can vary between methods, most peels are completed in less than two hours, with some taking as little as ten minutes. You certainly will not need to stay in hospital overnight.
I have eczema or psoriasis, so there is no point in me even consulting a skin peel specialist: Not true. While patients suffering from eczema or psoriasis are usually not eligible for chemical peel treatments, a consultation with a surgeon or specialist can make your options a little more clear. They will be able to suggest alternative treatments more suitable for your skin condition.
Chemical peels are painful: The sensation of a chemical peel varies based on the strength of the peel and on the chemicals used. No pain whatsoever should accompany a light peel. Patients who have undergone medium chemical peels report some burning and stinging sensations during the treatment, but your specialist will apply compresses and air cooling mechanisms to reduce this. They may also use a low-grade anaesthetic to further deaden the discomfort.