Facial peels are treatments that use several types of acid solution to slough off outer layers of dead skin. Also known as chemical peels, they are used to diminish or eliminate skin imperfections, revealing smoother, younger-looking skin.
For what conditions are facial peels used?
Facial peels are used to reduce or eliminate the appearance of wrinkles, acne scars, blemishes, uneven pigmentation and even stretch marks. The treatment can be used for overall rejuvenation of a treatment area such as the face or for spot treating specific skin imperfections.
What types of facial peel are available?
There are four types of facial peels that are suitable for varying types and severity of skin problems.
- Light chemical peels use alphahydroxy acids such as glycolic, salicylic, lactic or fruit acids for treating fine lines, dry skin, acne and uneven pigmentation. This type of facial peel takes less than an hour.
- Medium chemical peels use trichloroacetic acid for treating the same skin problems addressed by light chemical peels but produce more dramatic results. This is because TCA penetrates the skin more deeply than the acids used in light chemical peels. This type of facial treatment takes less than an hour; spot treatments can be done as fast as 15 minutes.
- Deep chemical peels use phenol acid for treating more serious skin problems such as coarse facial wrinkles, sun-damaged skin and even pre-cancerous growths. Deep chemical peels are the strongest among the various facial peels. This type of treatment may take one to two hours to complete.
- Acne chemical peels are specially formulated to control acne and diminish acne scars and may also be used to eliminate lines and uneven skin pigmentation. Your doctor may use a light, medium or deep chemical peel for this treatment, depending on the severity of the skin problem.
How are facial peels done?
Facial peels are administered as outpatient procedures by certified and trained cosmetic dermatologists or plastic surgeons in a clinic, medical facility or hospital. The skin is first cleansed by your doctor. If the treatment is a deep chemical peel, your doctor will apply a topical anesthetic to the treatment area and give you a sedative, if you so request. Patients may also request an anesthetic for milder treatments. Your doctor will then apply the appropriate chemical peel solution and leave it on for a prescribed amount of time. The solution is then washed off with water and petroleum jelly or a soothing solution is applied to the skin. Your doctor will instruct you on the proper care of your skin after treatment.
What are the typical results of facial peels?
Results vary according to the type of treatment. There is usually minimal or no skin redness after a light chemical peel, and you should able to resume normal activities immediately after treatment. You will notice that the treated skin has improved texture, tone and color.
For medium chemical peels, you will notice that a superficial crust forms over the treated skin after treatment. The crust eventually sheds off after a few days to a week. A new layer of skin, which at the onset would be reddish, will be revealed. The redness will fade to reveal dramatically improved skin.
Deep facial peels will result in swelling, redness and some discomfort. A crust will also form over the treated skin, which will flake off after a week to ten days to reveal pinkish skin. The pink color will soon diminish and a pale, smooth complexion will emerge.
Are facial peels safe?
Facial peels are generally safe when performed by licensed and experienced cosmetic dermatologists or plastic surgeons. There are minimal side effects with light and medium peels; these include a stinging sensation, redness of the skin and crusting that lasts a couple of days after treatment. Deep chemical peels have more serious side effects that include infection and even scarring.
How long does recovery take?
Recovery times vary according to the type of treatment and the physical condition of each patient. In general, however, light facial peels do not require any recovery time. For medium facial peels, full recovery usually takes two weeks. For deep facial peels, complete recovery can take two months or longer. Patients typically need to rest from work and normal activities for one to two weeks after a deep chemical peel.
How many treatments are needed?
Multiple treatments (five to eight, depending on the individual) of light or medium chemical peel may be necessary to attain optimum results. Deep facial peels require only one treatment to attain the desired results.