What is a chemical peel?
A chemical peel is a chemical solution that is applied to your skin to improve the texture by removing the outer layers. The commonest peels are trichloroacetic acid, alphahyroxy acids and phenol
What peel to choose?
The correct peel for you depend on your wishes and expectations and you discuss this at your consultation.
Peels come in various strengths. The stronger the peel the more dramatic the effect but the more chance there are of complications.
The lightest peels act on just the outer layer of epidermis, moderate peels remove the outer layer of epidermis and upper part of the layer underneath (dermis) and deep peels will act on the epidermis and the dermis including the lower dermal layer.
How are they performed?
Light and moderate peels do not require any anaesthesia. The face is cleansed and the chemical is applied to the skin and left for a few minutes. This may cause some stinging and burning. Once the peel has taken affect the chemicals are neutralised with a cool saline dressing. The skin may turn red or brown just after the peel and the skin may take up to 6 weeks to return to normal. The lighter the peel the lesser the effect. Some lighter peels require a number of treatments spread apart by a number of weeks.
Deeper peels require a pre-treatment of the skin and Retin A is the commonest product used. For the procedure a sedative and local anaesthetic are usually given. Occasionally a general anaesthetic is required. Your face is cleansed and the peel applied. After the peel adhesive tape is applied to your face. Petroleum jelly is an alternative to the adhesive tape and is applied over the skin and should stay in place for 2 days. The deep peels lead to peeling redness and discomfort for a number of days and you may be analgesia during this period.
What are the Risks?
The risks are dependent on the peel you choose. Swelling, redness and discomfort are common. Uncommonly unevenness in the result, hypo or hyper pigmentation and scarring can occur. These are particularly related to the strength of the peel. One must also avoid direct sunlight through the treatment and you will need to use a number of skin products during this time.