A chemical peel is a treatment technique used to improve and smooth the texture of the skin using a chemical solution that causes the superfial layers of the skin to slough off and eventually peel off. The depth of the layer of the skin that is peeled off will depend on the type of chemical used, it’s concentration and delivery technique. To put it very simply, it is a procedure whereby “controlled damage” is inflicted to the skin forcing it thereafter to repair the damage done and in doing so, indirectly, “new skin” will be produced. Depending on the extent of damage induced, positive changes seen in the appearance of the new skin may include smoother texture, less oily, more evenly coloured tone, reduced fine lines, tighter skin and/or presence of an added glow.
These changes are expected only after a few sessions of chemical peels and not from a single session.
In general, the deeper the peel, the more obvious the results are seen per session done. Correspondingly however, the deeper the peel, the longer the expected downtime or healing period will be.
Chemical peels are generally categorised into superficial , medium depth and deep peels.
These are very mild chemical peels that are done monthly as basic rejuvenation efforts for the skin or for purely maintenance purposes. They are very well tolerated and cause minimum downtime.
A mild acid, it is by far the most popular form of chemical peel. It comes from sugar cane and belongs to a family of acids called alpha-hydroxy acids or fruit acids
A glycolic acid peel, or alpha hydroxy acid peel, is a superficial chemical peel that removes your top layer of skin. The glycolic peel process triggers the production of new collagen and elastin and, as a result, erases fine lines and wrinkles, evens out skin discoloration, and improves skin texture.
Similar to glycolic acid peels, lactic acid peels are alpha hydroxy acid(AHA) and is derived from milk.
They are an excellent choice for those with sensitive skin especially so because lactic acid is a natural human byproduct and thus is not likely to cause an allergic reaction.
Mandelic acids are alpha hydroxy acids (AHA) like glycolic and lactic ; it is derived from bitter almonds. Unlike the other AHA’s though, Mandelic acid has bigger molecules and as such do not penetrate as deep and as fast as the other peels making it suitable for first time patients and /or those with sensitive skin.
Salicylic acid peels are a type of beta hydroxy acid(BHA) peel and is derived from willow bark. It is basically an AcneBuster! So if your skin is the oily or combination type and you suffer from whiteheads, blackheads, acne and open pores, then this peel may just be your next BFF!
Salicylic acid peels help with acne in a few different ways
- It’s That basically means it is oil soluble and targets your face’s natural oils that causes acne …. Right down to the pores where it becomes food for the infamous P. Acne bacteria that causes acne infection!
- Clears and prevents blackheads, pimples/whiteheads and cysts
- Degreases skinand helps to balance oil production
- Helps with large poresby reducing/rebalancing oil production, and improving skin texture
Medium Depth Peels
TrichloroAcetic Acid (TCA) is an analogue of acetic acid , an organic acid that is found in vinegar. (Please don’t use kitchen vinegar on your face already!) TCA peels does a few things.
- It helps to lighten the skin and even out it’s tone by reducing the appearance of dark spots, sun spots, freckles and skin discoloration; giving your skin an added luminosity.
- Because it penetrates up to the dermal layer of the skin, it can cause some skin remodeling that makes it look soft and smooth, thus making it useful to treat superficial acne scars. It can also clean out congested pores to refine the surface of your skin and for older individuals, it helps erase fine lines, wrinkles and gives the skin a somewhat tighter appearance.
Because TCA peels are deeper peels as compared to glycolic, lactic, mandelic and salicylic peels, it has a more significant and longer downtime. Patients will experience redness immediately after the peel, brownish and tight skin on the second day and their skin will start peeling on the 3rd day onwards and depending on the concentration of the acid used, will continue to peel for the next 3 to five days. But ask anyone who has done TCA peels before and they will tell you that the results are worth that wait!
Cosmelan peel is a medium depth peel that primarily bleaches and depigments the skin and secondarily, like all other peels , improves texture and to a certain extent tension.
A professional topical bleaching treatment, it is designed to eradicate or lessen any skin blemishes acquired of melanic origin whilst simultaneously uniformising skin tone and increasing skin luminosity.
It has been found to be particularly useful in treating stubborn or deep pigments like melasma.
Phenol is the most widely used chemical used in deep chemical peels. This type of peel however is almost never done locally for reasons of.
- Phenol peel has a downtime of more than 2 weeks
- It has the risk of permanently bleaching the skin especially on Asian skin
- It has the risk of disfigurement if not done carefully
- Phenol is toxic and when used as a chemical peel, patients have to
be placed on sedation and close cardiopulmonary monitoring is needed.