The term “chemical peel” for some people conjures up images of undesirable red, inflamed, and peeling skin – something akin to Kim Cattrall’s character Samantha in a memorable episode of Sex in The City. While it is true that chemical peels can sometimes be very aggressive, in most cases they are not; And for many skin conditions the positive benefits far outweigh the potential negative aspects.
What is a Chemical Peel?
A chemical peel is a treatment used to improve the health and appearance of the skin on the face, neck, and/or hands. A chemical solution is carefully applied to the skin and allowed to sit for a specific amount of time. All types of peels cause some degree of exfoliation that may or may not be noticeable to some people. Medium to more aggressive peels cause sloughing, or peeling, of the skin. The ultimate goal of a peel is to improve the color and texture of the skin while reducing scars, acne, melasma and hyperpigmentation, and wrinkles.
There Are 3 Basic Degrees of Chemical Peels
Superficial Peel, also known as a “lunchtime peel”
Superficial peels target the epidermis, or the outermost layer of skin. It is ideal for sensitive skin and used to treat dullness, fine lines, acne, uneven skin tone, and dryness.
The exfoliation process of this grade of peel is complete in 3 to 7 days and can be repeated every 4 to 6 weeks. This peel is suitable for most skin types and requires no downtime.
Uses trichloroacetic acid (TCA) or higher concentrations of glycolic acid.
This grade of peel targets both the epidermis and the dermis, or middle layer of skin. It targets damaged skin cells and is ideal for wrinkles, age spots, acne scars, hyperpigmentation, and uneven skin tone.
Peeling at this grade is usually completed in 7 to 10 days and can be repeated in 6 to 8 weeks but typically isn’t necessary. Medium peels sometimes require a very brief period of downtime.
Uses higher concentrations of trichloroacetic acid.
Deep peels target skin from the epidermis to the middle and lower layers of dermis. This is the most aggressive grade of peel and can cause significant peeling and redness. It is ideal for fine lines, wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, scars, and does everything the above two grades do as well. Patients can expect dramatic improvement in skin appearance. Most peels of this grade have some period of downtime.
This degree can cause peeling that begins four to five days after treatment and is usually completed in 8 days – but can last as long as 14 days. Following pre- and post-treatment care is extremely important with this level of peel.
Chemical Peels of every degree cause increased sensitivity to the sun and extra precaution should be taken to protect the delicate skin from sun exposure.
Chemical Peels Can Make Skin Function Better
Immediately after application, acids begin to lift away dead skin cells and trigger the outermost layers of skin to shed. This signals the cells located just below to begin multiplying and move upward. This process creates an increase in the production of collagen and hyaluronic acid – essentially, skin becomes younger. For a period of time after a peel, skin care products work more effectively as well due to there being no dead skin cells blocking the way.
Low percentages of multiple acids often give better outcomes, and with less irritation, than a solo acid at a higher strength. While some skin conditions might benefit from highly aggressive peels, most patients can achieve desired outcomes with mild to moderate peels.
The licensed and trained aestheticians at Restorations Medical Spa have over 20 years of experience and can help you determine if a chemical peel is right for you and your aesthetic goals. We offer all grades of peels and use fruit acids, glycolic acid, latic acid, alpha and beta hydroxy acids, and trichloroacetic acid – including the Vi Peel.
Call our office to set up a free consultation to determine which grade of peel is ideal for your individual needs: 918-331-2329