Even though chemical peels have become very advanced in recent years, the earliest record we have of the practice goes back to Cleopatra’s time, when she would immerse herself in milk baths. Today’s chemical peels however can achieve many benefits that improve the skin texture and tone, improving the effects of pigmentation, sun damage and ageing. Let’s unpack the question of what is a chemical peel.
What Is A Chemical Peel?
A chemical peel is a skin treatment that is performed to remove the damaged outer layer of the skin. It may also help to remove pre-cancerous growths and address acne concerns.
A chemical peel is a non-invasive way to remove dead, dull skin cells to reveal a brighter and more radiant complexion below the skin surface.
What Is A Chemical Peel Used For?
Chemical peels are not suitable for all skin types and skin concerns. You should book a thorough consultation with a cosmetic surgeon or aesthetician before booking a chemical peel.
Peels can be used to treat
- Fine lines, wrinkles and facial creases
- Uneven skin texture
- Uneven pigmentation
- Skin dullness and dryness
Sometimes the outcome of a chemical peel varies and may not be predictable. It’s important to take note:
- It will not stop the ageing process
- If you have deep wrinkles or deep scarring, a chemical peel may only make a subtle difference to the appearance of your skin. Sometimes a chemical peel combined with microneedling is required to address deep scarring.
How Do You Know If Chemical Peels Are Right For You?
Chemical peels may be beneficial for you if
- You have a realistic understanding of what can be achieved
- You are prepared to have a sequence of treatments to address your skin concern. Sometimes one peel does not achieve your objectives
- You are in generally good health
- You have stopped smoking or you are a non-smoker
How Does A Chemical Peel Work?
During a peel, the damaged outer layers of the skin are stripped off to reveal healthier skin. Chemical peels are classified as superficial, medium and deep. Superficial and medium peels can be used to treat sun damage, fine lines and some acne. Deep peels are used for the treatment of scarring and dermal pigmentation.
Some of the most common chemicals used in peels include:
- Alpha Hydroxy acids (AHAs) are light peels used for the treatment of mild skin conditions. AHA peels are commonly used for fine lines and wrinkles, acne, uneven pigmentation and dry areas of skin.
- Trichloroacetic acid (TCA) is typically used for peels of medium depth, for the treatment of fine lines, pigmentation and superficial blemishes on the surface of the skin.
- Phenol is used for a deep peel and may benefit patients who have deep or coarse facial wrinkles, large areas of sun damage and pre-cancerous growths.
What Can You Expect From The Procedure?
Your aesthetician will cleanse and prepare your skin for treatment. Chemical peels are usually painted on the skin. They are liquid or gel-based products that are left on the skin for the desired period of time before they are rinsed off. The peel is active until water is used to neutralise it.
You should not exfoliate for the week before your treatment, and make sure you stay out of the sun before your peel.
What Are The Complications And Risks Associated With Chemical Peels?
Because risks are possible it’s important to work with a registered aesthetician or cosmetic surgeon who will discuss your individual risk factors with you prior to treatment. While complications are rare when procedures are performed safely, you should be aware of what could happen:
- Red, stinging or irritated skin
- The development of new skin without pigment
- Uneven pigmentation
- New skin may develop with darker pigment
- Skin sensitivity
What Kind Of Downtime Can You Expect?
Your recovery time will depend on the intensity and depth of the peel used. A superficial peel may cause some redness while deep peels are likely to cause skin redness, flaking, peeling and fluid retention. These complications should improve within seven to ten days of your treatment. Your skin should gradually go pink from red, and then any pinkness should heal.
Do Chemical Peels Hurt?
The deeper the peel, the higher the level of discomfort you can expect. You can expect to feel tingling or burning of the skin. Some patients find that peels make their skin itch slightly. Anaesthesia is typically not required for a peel.
What To Expect After The Procedure?
You must follow your aesthetician’s recovery guidelines to take care of your skin. Rest always helps to speed up healing and it is a good idea to avoid vigorous exercise and heavy lifting while you are recovering. If you have had a deep peel, your cosmetic surgeon may prescribe some pain medication to assist you with discomfort.
It may take five to seven days for your new skin to emerge, and up to 14 days before all the redness has faded.
Avoid the sun for the first two weeks after your procedure. Even if you will not be in the direct sun you must protect your face with large sunglasses, sunscreen and a hat to prevent uneven and darkened pigmentation.
If you still have questions about what is a chemical peel or how it could benefit your skin concerns, a professional opinion is always best. Please contact us for a confidential appointment: (02) 8599 7161.
What You Need To Know Before Getting A Chemical Peel