Chemical Peels

What exactly is a chemical peel?

Various forms of chemical peels have been done for centuries.  Some of the earliest types of peels were utilized by the ancient Egyptians in the form of sour milk baths, which contained lactic acid.  They noticed that after soaking in it, it had the effect of softening and smoothing their skin.  It wouldn’t be until the mid 1800s when an Austrian dermatologist began to use solutions of chemicals to treat various skin irregularities.  Modern chemical peels vary widely in strength and in their ability to cause controlled damage to the skin, so it is important to seek a professional to perform a peel in order to avoid serious complications.  These solutions dissolve skin cells in the uppermost layers of the epidermis.  As these cells are dissolved and begin to peel off, the cells in the underlying layers are signaled to move upwards to replace the missing top layer of skin.  During this process, new collagen and elastin are stimulated to help improve the look of fine lines and wrinkles, brown spots begin to break up and slough off, and pores are exfoliated from the inside-out, which can help with acne breakouts and temporarily reduce pore size.  Some peels can even kill the bacteria that causes acne.  The surface of your skin will appear smoother, more even-toned, and polished over time.  This treatment is safe to do on a regular basis as part of an overall maintenance program for healthier, glowing skin.  Treatments spaced 4-6 weeks apart are recommended, dependent on skin type and type of peel used.  Results may be subtle or dramatic, depending on which chemical peel is recommended for your particular needs.

What should I expect during my Chemical Peel treatment?

After assessing to determine the appropriate peel for your skin and screening for any conditions that could rule out treatment, the areas to be treated will be gently cleansed and prepped.  We ask that contact lenses be removed prior to your visit.  As your technician begins to apply the chemical peel solution to your skin, you will probably start to feel some stinging or burning which could become more intense the longer the peel stays on.  Depending on the type of acid peel being used, and how sensitive your skin is, the sensation may feel rather intense.  Your technician will monitor your skin to determine how long the solution should be left on before removing.  Some peels, such as glycolic, lactic, and mandelic acid peels must be neutralized with a solution, while some others such as salicylic acid peels are known as “self-neutralizing” and will automatically stop when they reach a certain endpoint.  Depending on the type of peel being used, your skin may be rinsed to remove all traces of the acid, or the peel may be left on the skin.  A soothing serum and a protective sunscreen will be applied, and you’re good to go for the rest of the day.  You will need to avoid direct sun exposure, especially for the first few days after your peel.  Most treatments take about 45-50 minutes, making this an ideal procedure for patients wanting a quick and effective way to rejuvenate their appearance and to treat certain skin concerns.

How do I prepare for my Chemical Peel treatment?

All anti-aging or acne treatment products that you are currently using should be discontinued at least 5 days prior to your scheduled appointment, such as topical acne medications, retinoids and products containing alpha or beta hydroxy acids.  Exposure to the sun should be avoided for a minimum of 1 week before and after your treatment.  In addition, do not wax 1 week before or after your appointment, as this can remove a layer of skin cells and increase your chance of adverse reactions.  Please arrive with minimal or no makeup.  If you have an active cold sore, your appointment will need to be rescheduled until it is completely resolved.  Contact lenses should be removed prior to your visit.

How will my skin look after Chemical Peel treatment?

Most patients will experience some mild to moderate redness that may last for a day or two, or possibly for several days after, depending on the type of acid that has been used in your peel and your individual skin type.  Your skin may feel more sensitive for a few days, but this can be relieved with the application of soothing hydrating serums and moisturizers and by avoiding excessive exercise or exposure to heat, as heat may make your skin sting and feel uncomfortable.  You may experience some acne breakouts in the days following your treatment, as the skin cells begin to turn over and congestion is purged from your skin.  It very important that you do not pick at your skin and use only plain, gentle cleansers and moisturizers for a few days after your treatment so that your skin can heal properly.  Most of these after affects resolve within a few days, but please contact our office if they do not.  Broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF 30 or higher is required immediately after and daily between appointments to protect your skin, as treated areas will be more sensitive to the sun.  Any peeling you experience will depend primarily on the type of peel that was used, as well as your individual skin type.  Some chemical peels result in very little visible peeling, while others may have peeling that lasts for several days.

How do I care for my skin after a chemical peel?

As your skin may be more sensitive to anti-aging or acne products after any type of exfoliating treatment, we recommend that you wait a minimum of 3 days after treatment to resume use of them, but you many need to wait longer.  A gentle cleanser and hydrating serum or mild moisturizer are recommended to ensure that you don’t cause additional dryness or irritation as your skin is healing and repairing itself.  Any issues such as scabbing or blistering after your treatment should be reported to our office immediately.  It is extremely important to not try to pick at or peel off any skin that is starting to flake or peel, as tempting as that is.  If the skin underneath is not entirely healed, you can risk causing a raw area that could take longer to heal, become infected, or leave a dark spot that can take time to resolve.  Facial brushes and scrubs to remove peeling skin are a no-no as well, as they can cause irritation and interfere with the healing process.  Peels that do cause profuse peeling can give you dramatic results, but you must have patience as the skin heals and be prepared for some social downtime, which can sometimes last up to a week.  Even once all the peeling is resolved, your skin will still feel more sensitive, so keep that in mind as you resume your regular skin care routine.  And remember, a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher must be worn daily, and excessive sun exposure is discouraged during your series of treatments.  This will ensure you are protecting the investment you are making in your skin, and to help discourage the formation of more sun damage and discoloration in your skin.

What other procedures do chemical peels pair well with?

Chemical peels are even more effective when paired or alternated with other treatments including facials, microdermabrasion, dermaplaning, Laser Genesis, IPL Photofacial,  and SkinPen microneedling, and can be part of a facial rejuvenation plan including injectables such as Botox or Dysport, and facial fillers like Juvéderm or Restylane.  Let the team here at Tru-Skin Dermatology help you formulate a treatment plan to put your best face forward!

Chemical Peel FAQ:

Who can benefit from a chemical peel?

Both women and men who want an effective way to rejuvenate their skin are the perfect candidates for chemical peels, as all skin types can be safely treated with various types of acids.  This treatment is a perfect procedure for those looking for ways to improve signs of aging, melasma, acne, dull-looking skin, large pores, etc.  Healthy, glowing skin can easily be achieved through a series of treatments.

Who is not a good candidate for a chemical peel?

Almost everyone is a good candidate for a chemical peel with the exception of patients who are pregnant or nursing.  Also, if your skin is thin or extremely sensitive due to age or certain medications, you may not be a good candidate.  In addition, if you have been using isotretinoin (Accutane) within the past 12 months, please advise your technician, as this medication can interfere with your skin’s ability to heal itself.  If you are prone to cold sores, we recommend taking anti-viral medication prior to your appointment.  Patients with melasma, moderate to severe acne, or more advanced signs of aging may require several peels combined with therapeutic skincare products to see results.

How many peels will I need?

Chemical Peels can be performed initially in a series as often as 2-4 weeks apart, depending on the type of peel used.  Most patients have a chemical peel once every 4-6 weeks as part of a maintenance regimen.  Your technician can help determine what course of treatment is best for your individual needs.  Results may be cumulative and take time, and you will notice increased improvement with each treatment.

How long does each treatment take?

Depending on the areas being treated, most sessions take 45-50 minutes.

How much peeling will I have?

Peeling can vary greatly between the different types of acid peels used, and the person’s skin type.  Generally, the drier and more sensitive a person’s skin is, the more visible peeling that person may have compared to a person with oiler skin when using the exact same type of peel.  Also, some peels dissolve and remove skin cells during the actual treatment process, so you may not have much peeling later on.  Some peeling is microscopic and not that noticeable.  Due to the variables in acids and skin types, do not be disappointed if you don’t have tons of peeling skin in the days following your peel.  The acid has still done its job.  Your technician can give you a better idea what to expect with your particular skin type and the type of peel being used on you.

What areas can be treated with chemical peels?

The face is the most commonly treated area, but chemical peels can be used on the neck, back, upper chest, backs of hands, or any area of the body where improvement in your skin is desired.  It is important to note that the skin on the face is different from the skin on the rest of the body, so healing times usually take longer than the face, and the degree of peeling can vary widely.

What type of chemical peels does Tru-Skin Dermatology offer?

Here at Tru-Skin, we have several different types and strengths of peels to offer our patients.  This allows us to customize treatments specifically for our patients’ individual skin types and needs.  Some of our alpha-hydroxy acid peels include glycolic and mandelic acid peels, which are wonderful for anti-aging as well as some acne-prone skin types.  In addition, we have some blended peels such as Jessner’s acid peels that are effective for both acne and skin suffering from melasma, which is a patchy type of hyperpigmentation (brown spot) caused by hormonal imbalances and sun exposure.  Salicylic acid peels are very effective at treating acne, as they efficiently exfoliate the skin including the pores, normalize oil production, and kill C. acnes bacteria.  In addition, salicylic acid helps reduce inflammation in the skin, so it’s beneficial in treating both acne and rosacea, which are inflammatory skin conditions.  TCA Peels are wonderful for improving textural irregularities, melasma, and congested pores, but may penetrate deeper than other peels depending on the strength used.  We also offer some cosmetic name brand peels, such as VI Peel and The Perfect Derma Peel, which can cause up to a week of peeling on average, and leave your skin fresh and glowing.  We here at Tru-Skin Dermatology are ready to customize your procedure plan for optimal results.

How much does a chemical peel cost?

You can purchase an individual treatment if you wish, but as a series of treatments is recommended for best results, packages of 3 treatments are available and affordably priced.  Our menu of services with pricing can be found HERE.

How long will my results last?

Depending on the person and the skin conditions being treated, results usually last anywhere between 1-3 months, but may last longer in some cases.  Since chemical peels only remove the outermost layers of skin cells, and those cells are gradually replaced within a month or so, ongoing treatments are suggested.  For the best results in retaining the benefits of a chemical peel, daily sun protection and the use of medical-grade skin care products are recommended, especially in the treatment of acne or melasma.  Tru-Skin Dermatology can help you set up a customized skin care regimen to target your individual needs.  We carry several lines of professional products to help you achieve your best skin possible.  Call us today to start your journey to healthier looking skin!


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