As you age, your skin loses some of its natural elasticity, causing wrinkles, changes in skin tone and an increase in roughness. Spending time outdoors in the sun and wind can further damage your skin, creating more wrinkles, dark spots and a leathery texture. Acne can leave behind scarring and pockmarks.
Fortunately there’s a remedy: a chemical peel—a minimally-invasive, aesthetic procedure designed to rejuvenate the texture of your skin, and reduce the appearance of aging, scarring and other facial imperfections.
A chemical peel uses an acid solution that is “painted” onto the skin to remove the damaged outer layers, causing the skin to peel and regenerate new cells. The new cells that form during the healing process produce smoother, tighter and younger looking skin. Chemical peels may be performed on the face, neck, chest, hands, arms or legs.
Good candidates for chemical peels
With our patients, we have found that chemical peels are effective in treating the following conditions:
• Age and liver spots.
• Fine lines and wrinkles.
• Acne scars and other blemishes.
• Rough skin and scaly patches.
• Sun-damaged skin.
• Uneven skin pigmentation.
Chemical peels are not recommended for the treatment of deep facial lines, sagging skin, or broken capillaries. You also may not be a good candidate for a chemical peel if you have red hair and pale, freckled skin; Afro-Caribbean or Asian skin; facial warts; abnormal pigmentation; or a history of skin scarring.
Types of chemical peels
Chemical peels come in a range of strengths, and certain peels are more effective at correcting particular skin issues.
• Light peels provide exfoliation and remove dead skin cells on the surface. They are used to treat fine wrinkling, areas of dryness, uneven pigmentation and acne. Patients may need weekly treatments for the first 4-6 weeks to achieve the look they desire, followed by monthly treatments to maintain their results.
• Medium depth peels penetrate deeper than just the top layer of skin to treat age spots, rough skin, melasma, and moderate-to-severe skin imperfections. The procedure may need to be repeated every 6 to 12 months to maintain optimal results.
• Deep peels are the most aggressive approach to chemical peel treatment, and are used to treat severe skin wrinkling, deep scars and facial irregularities. A deep peel is normally a one-time procedure, with results lasting 10 years or longer.
The deeper the peel, the more dramatic the results and the longer the recovery time. Shallower peels treat more superficial issues and involve a much quicker recovery. During a one-on-one consultation, we will discuss your chemical peel options and help you select the peel treatment that is right for your skin type and desired results.
The overall process will vary depending on the type of peel chosen and the extent of the area being treated. In most cases, the treatment is performed in our medical office. Light and medium peels do not require anesthesia, but deep peels do.
During the procedure, the skin is first cleansed with alcohol to remove oil from the skin so the peel solution will penetrate evenly. A solution is then carefully applied and will remain on the skin for a short time to remove the layers of damaged skin. Finally, an ointment is applied to the skin to aid in healing and prevent infection. Light peels can be completed in about 15 minutes, while deeper peels may require 45 minutes to one hour.
No downtime is required after a light chemical peel, and you should be able to resume normal activities immediately (although you may experience slight discomfort for a couple days).
Medium and deep chemical peels usually require 3 to 14 days of recuperation. Your skin will be extremely red for several days, followed by a period of flaking and peeling. Complete healing may take several months.
Frequently Asked Questions
Please visit our Chemical Peels FAQ for frequently asked questions about chemical peels.