If you are reading this, it is likely, you have heard about chemical peels and are possibly contemplating having one. For the benefit of persons who don’t know what a chemical peel is, a proper introduction is needed.
What is a chemical peel?
This is a resurfacing cosmetic treatment that causes exfoliation when chemicals are applied to the skin. Typically, shedding occurs to reveal skin with an improved skin texture, colour and lesser imperfections.
Types of Chemical Peels:
Based on the depth of penetration on the layers of the skin, chemical peels are classified as superficial, medium depth and deep peels (can not be done on skin of colour due to the high chances of =severe scarring).
Who can have a peel:
Chemical peels are used for treating the following skin concerns;
- Certain hyperpigmentation disorders e.g. melasma, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation(part of which, dark spots classify under).
- Photoaging: Skin damaged from exposure to the sun.
- Fine lines and wrinkles.
Who can’t Have a Peel:
- Pregnant and lactating women.
- Persons who are prone to keloid or hypertrophic scar.
- Persons who have autoimmune diseases such as lupus, vitiligo.
- Comorbidities such as cardiac conditions, diabetes.
- Cold sores.
How it works:
A special chemical in a liquid, gel-like or mask-like form is applied to the skin with the intention of causing deep exfoliation, thereby removing surface layers of the skin, with an improvement in the skin appearance and vitality. The chemical peel process has multiple phases, viz:
Pretreatment Phase: This starts with a consultation with your dermatologist, aesthetic doctor, a medical aesthetician. This is important, as the decision to have a medical grade peel and the choice of peel will be tailored to your skin type and needs.
A pretreatment skin care routine will be created for you, this phase (which usually takes about 2-4 weeks) is very important, as it plays a large role in your treatment outcome by reducing the possibilities of complications and improving healing. Some of the products may be discontinued 2-3 days before the peel. Typically, your routine will contain;
- A gentle moisturizer
- Sunscreen with SPF of at least 30
- Topical retinoid
Treatment Phase(Peeling procedure): after your pre-treatment phase, on the day of the peel, your face will be cleansed and degreased of sebum and some areas of the skin might be protected with a thin film of petroleum jelly, followed by the application of the chemical peel. Depending on the kind of peel done, you might experience some discomfort which is tolerable with the help of a cooling device. The peel might be left on for a few minutes to hours before it is washed off, your attending personnel will provide the appropriate post-peel instructions, especially as regards the previously prescribed regimen.
Post Treatment Phase: Typically, within 72hrs, the treated skin might redden, darken and begin to shed off(not all peels will physically shed, this, however, will not change the efficacy of the peel). Peeling usually lasts between 3-7 days, sometimes longer in certain types of peel. During this process, you might experience tightness, dryness and or itching. . After peeling, the skin now appears radiant with lesser flaws. You might need a repeat session spaced about 2-4 weeks apart for optimal results.
Maintenance Phase: You should have a follow up with your doctor, to ensure your routine is tweaked in order to maintain the results of the chemical peel. Ideally, you should also have a maintenance session of the chemical peel, 6 months after, this helps optimize results as well.
Do’s and Don’ts of the Chemical Peeling Process
- Sun protection is critical. You should not have any sun exposure without a broad-spectrum sunblock of 30 and above (even whilst indoors), hats and or caps as well as sunglasses. You should repeat sunscreen application every 2-3 hours.
- You can reapply the prescribed soothing moisturizer as often as your skin feels tight, dry or itchy but ensure to go over with sunscreen at least 5 minutes after the moisturizer, during the day.
- Do not vigorously rub the skin or pick at flaking skin.
- No swimming or sauna use for at least a week after the chemical peel.
- Wait 7-10 days before laser treatments, waxing, use of depilatory creams, or microdermabrasion.
Side Effects of a Chemical peel
The possible side effects of a chemical peel include but are not limited to:
- Redness and swelling of the treated area usually subside within a few hours but can last up to a week or longer.
- Dryness, skin sensitivity, irritation, itching and/or mild burning sensation or pain similar to sunburn may occur with 48hrs of treatment.
- You might experience post-peel breakouts.
- Hyperpigmentation and/or hyperpigmentation of the skin in treated areas can occur. Mostly, it is transient, rarely lasting up to 6 months, but in extremely rare cases, it may be permanent.
- Other possible side effects are infection, reactivation of cold sores, scarring.
Here at Skin101 Medical centre, we offer a range of medical grade chemical peels such as Alpha and beta hydroxy peels, TCA and TCA CROSS Peels, TCA combination peels, the newmelan, cosmelan and dermamelan mask peels as well amongst others.
We hope you found this post helpful. Have you had a chemical peel, what was the experience and result like? Tell us in the comment section.