A chemical peel contains active ingredients such as phenol, trichloroacetic acid or TCA, and alpha hydroxy acids or AHAs. The chemicals are used to improve the overall texture of a person’s skin; they remove the outer layers of the skin that might get damaged in some way. It is an effective way to deal with blemishes, wrinkles, or uneven pigmentation.
If You’re considering a Chemical Peel…
The first thing you need to know is that chemical peels are customized according to your needs. In other words, the peel’s formula changes from person to person. This is one reason why it is vital that only an experienced specialist perform this procedure because the formula needs to be precise to ensure a positive outcome. Several patients use the chemical peel with a facelift, which only enhances the outcome of both. You should know that a chemical peel is no substitute for a facelift. It should also be noted that the peel will not slow down natural aging, so you want to make sure you keep an eye on that. You should read the brochure as it will explain the types of chemical treatments offered along with the kinds of effects they may have on you. Of course, specific details about the chemical peel treatment will be cleared up by your plastic surgeon.
Deciding if a chemical peel is right for you
A cosmetic procedure, big or small, is a big decision to make, but it is meant to help you. It is ultimately going to help boost your self-esteem, confidence, and your life. Of course, there are other reasons for considering this procedure, such as removing pre-cancerous skin growths as an example. Others just want to remove acne scars.
Keep in mind that some insurance plans cover the entire procedure, but this is on a case by case situation, so be sure to talk to your own insurance provider about the procedure and why you need it.
Now, lets get into some of the active ingredients in the formula. The first that should be touched on are the alpha hydroxy acids or AHAs. These acids are derived from certain fruits. A formula based on AHAs will create a light peel that should not be too harsh on the skin. The peel is ideal for those who only want to brighten their skin or those who do not have time to recover from harsher peels. This mild peel is usually used for fine wrinkling or slight pigment unevenness. You are likely going to have go through a few applications and each may vary though this is going to depend on your cosmetic specialist. Some clients blend a mild alpha hydroxy acid into facial washes or creams such as glycolic acid. This can become a part of a regular skin care routine that can help protect the skin.
Trichloroacetic acid or TCA, mentioned earlier is stronger than AHAs, and it is used for in-depth peeling. It is a medium-depth peel rather than a full blown peel though changes to the formula can be made to make it stronger. Of course, skin issues like wrinkles, blemishes, and pigment unevenness can be taken care of with a TCA-based formula. Those who want a semi-quick recovery will find this particular peel ideal, but there are a few drawbacks. For one, the changes made by a TCA-based formula are not too drastic, and the outcome does not last as long as a phenol-based peel formula.
The strongest type of chemical peel solution is one that uses phenol more than any other ingredient. Those who need a deep peel should definitely consider a phenol-based peel formula. You already know that recovery from this type of peel is going to take longer than the other peels mentioned, but sometimes this type of peel is the only option. Patients who have deep wrinkles or heavily sun-damaged skin are going to need this type of peel. People with pre-cancerous growths are also going to need a formula this strong. It should be noted that the chemical peel might lighten treated areas, which is something to consider before deciding on the treatment.
All chemical peels carry some uncertainty and risk
The chemical peel treatment is considered relatively safe, especially when performed by an experienced cosmetic doctor or a plastic surgeon, but that does not mean there are no risk involved.
No one is saying that risks occur often, but scarring or even skin infections are possible. Safety measures are taken to ensure that this risk is minimal.
AHA-based peels, for example, have caused some stinging and irritation. These issues usually occur at the beginning of the treatment, but the skin should develop the strength to endure the rest of the treatment.
Those who decide on a TCA peel should avoid sun exposure for a few months after the treatment has been administered. The treatment will create new layers of skin, which are going to be quite sensitive to the sun. The skin should be able to create the patient’s regular pigment, but slight unintended color changes are not impossible.
Phenol-based peels are associated with skin that is unable to produce the patient’s regular skin pigmentation. Those who go through this procedure will have to protect their skin from the sun from now on. Those with heart disease or those who may have a history of heart disease should be cautious because phenol-based peels could be a little risky.
Peel Formulas at a Glance
Alpha hydroxy acids or AHAs
Smooths rough or dry skin
Improves sun-damaged skin
Could correct pigment issues
Can be used as TCA pre-treatment to prepare skin
Several peels might be required
Sunblock will be recommended
Trichloroacetic acid or TCA
Deals with fine surface wrinkles
Takes care of superficial blemishes
Pigment issues are dealt with
Also used on neck or other areas
Pre-treatment may be necessary using Retin-A or AHA-based solutions
Each treatment is about 10 to 15 minutes
Ideal treatment for dark-skinned patients
Depth of the peel is adjustable
Various treatments may be required
Sunblock will be mandated for a few months
Healing is quicker than phenol-based peels
Reverses blotches from UV exposure, aging, or birth control medication
Deals with deep wrinkles
Takes care of pre-cancerous growths
Dark-skinned people usually do not use this formula
Risky for people with heart issues
Treatment can take an hour or longer
Healing could take many months
May permanently remove all or some freckles
Sunblock will be required from now on
Skin lightening is permanent
Demarcation is possible
Planning for a Chemical Peel
Some people who find out that their state does not require a medical degree to perform the chemical peel treatment are startled. The procedure can be called a medical procedure, and the side-effects can be serious, yet some states allow people without a medical degree to perform the treatment. Some states only regulate the strength of the peel’s formula but nothing else, which some possible patients rightfully worry about. This is the reason you need to find a cosmetic specialist with the right degree, even if your state does not require this.
Remember to talk to your specialist before starting the procedure. There should be no doubts in your mind before you start. Be sure to disclose any medical issues before you begin the procedure like allergies or even if you have a history of herpes.
Where Your Peel Will Be Performed
The treatment is performed at the plastic surgeon’s office or medical facility. It may also occur at an outpatient center. Those who have a series of treatments on that day may need to stay overnight.
Types of Anesthesia
Phenol and TCA-based peels need no anesthesia though some sedation is recommended to keep you calm. Absolutely no anesthesia is needed for AHA peels which, at worse, are going to make the skin feel a bit prickly.
How the Peel Works
The AHA peel is applied when the face is clean. The entire process does not take longer than 10 minutes though this could vary. Patients do not have to worry about aftercare. Of course, patients may need the treatment a few times to get the right look.
Those who want long-lasting results may need to consider using AHA-based face washes or creams. Your surgeon should okay these changes to your facial care before you start them.
The skin is also cleansed before applying either the phenol or TCA-based peel. There may be some stinging, but the surgeon will be as gentle as possible to ensure that you are as comfortable as possible. Do not worry though; the stinging sensation does go away soon. Applying the TCA peel does not take more 15 minutes. You are going to need at least two treatments to get what you want.
Applying the phenol peel will require that your cosmetic specialist treat the area using something like petroleum jelly or a waterproof adhesive tape. Applying this peel to the entire face is going to take at least an hour though it does depend on the size of the face.
After Your Treatment
Those who go through an AHA peel treatment may see some flaking or scaling, which is temporary. Some may even see some redness of the skin, but these symptoms should subside.
Your cosmetic specialist is likely going to prescribe mild pain medication to help those who went through a phenol or TCA-based peel. This is because throbbing and excessive tingling may be felt after the procedure. If the treatment was done using tape, the person will need to wear this tape for about a day, but it could be as long as two days. It should be noted that a crust-like formation will appear over the treated area, which should help heal the face.
Some people who used a phenol-based peel may experience swelling that causes the eyes to shut for some time. It will not be long, but you probably will need some help until these side effects are gone.
Getting Back to Normal
Your skin should look beautiful, and the texture is going to feel much better than before. Of course, sun protection is vital, not to mention a good skin care regimen and a healthy diet.
Those who have a TCA-based peel may need to wait about a week or ten days to see their new skin. Those who opt for a phenol peel may not see new skin form until seven to ten days after the procedure. The skin will still not appear normal for a few weeks to months, so be patient.
You can return to work or your normal activities within two weeks of treatment, but your plastic surgeon will have more specific details. No makeup until your skin is completely healed.
Your New Look
The effects of these procedures are definitely noticeable and, best of all, they are relatively non-invasive. Sure, it may take some time to see the overall effects, but it is worth the wait.