Chemical Peel is a chemical treatment technique to rejuvenate facial skin. The applied chemical solution is allowed to soak in, after which the skin starts to die and peel off starting the next day up to two weeks. The amount of peeling would depend on how deep the penetration of the chemical in the skin is. The purpose of this process is to destroy the dead skin cells on the top layer of the skin so that new and younger-looking skin can grow in its place. The solutions used for this procedure are also called exfoliating or wounding agents.
Depths of Peel
There are different types of chemical peels available today. Each of these makes use of a different type of chemical solution that has a unique depth of peel.
The depth of peel usually depends on:
- amount of time it takes before the acid is neutralized
- acid concentration in the solution
- number of coats applied
Those that result in deeper peels have more significant results but also pose higher risks, greater pain, and longer recovery period.
There are three general types of chemical peel.
Superficial peel is the mildest type of chemical peel used on all types of skin. This makes use of a liquid that contains mild, often diluted acid such as glycolic acid. Sometimes, dry ice or solid carbon dioxide is used for this process.
- Right before this type of peeling, the skin is cleaned.
- The chemical is then applied on the skin using a small gauze, brush, or cotton-tipped applicator.
- Then it is left to be absorbed by the skin for several minutes.
- After that, water or alcohol is used to neutralize the acid and then these are wiped off.
Medium peel penetrates the skin more deeply than the superficial peel. It results in second-degree burn of the skin. The main peeling agent used for this is called trichloroacetic acid (TCA). The technique used for the medium peel is similar to the superficial peel, only difference being that it is left on for a longer period. It is more painful, so you can take pain relievers or oral sedative to reduce pain and anxiety during the process. It takes about 40 minutes. You'll no longer feel any pain after the medium peel is done.
Deep peel penetrates into several layers of the skin. It makes use of a chemical solution called phenol that cannot be applied on darker skin types as it can lead to hypopigmentation or bleaching of the skin. Deep peels can only be done once. This procedure takes the most time. It's also the most painful.
- First, you will be given an oral sedative along with pain reliever. In some cases, general anesthesia is to be used.
- It's also possible that you're given intravenous (IV) fluids and be put on a heart monitor during the process.
- The solution is gradually applied on the skin in small amounts, with breaks in between coats to avoid having too much phenol get into the system. Phenol is toxic if it is absorbed by the body in large doses.
- This procedure lasts from 60 to 90 minutes, depending on how large the area to be peeled is.