Chemical peels remove damaged outer layers of skin to make skin smoother, reduce scarring and remove blemishes. Ranging from mild to strong, there are three types of chemical peels: alphahydroxy acid (AHA), trichloroacetic acid (TCA) and phenol. The strength of each peel is tailored to the patient. Peels can be combined with other procedures, such as facelifts, for additional improvement to skin. Chemical peels may be covered by insurance if they are performed for medical rather than cosmetic reasons.
Chemical peels are performed in a plastic surgeon's or dermatologist's office, or an outpatient surgical center. Anesthesia is not required because TCA and phenol have anesthetic properties, and AHA produces only a slight stinging.
Chemical Peel Procedure
During a TCA or phenol peel, the skin is cleansed and the solution is applied, which may cause a brief stinging sensation. Petroleum jelly or a waterproof adhesive tape may be put on the skin following a phenol peel. During an AHA peel, the skin is cleansed and the solution applied; there is no need for post-peel ointment or covering.
Side Effects of Chemical Peels
A phenol or TCA peel can result in tingling or throbbing, reddened skin, a crust or scab, and significant swelling that lasts, depending on the strength of the peel used, about a week. With a phenol peel, eyes may be swollen shut at first, and the patient may be put on a liquid diet and advised to keep talking to a minimum. Any tape used is removed after a day or two. AHA peels can cause temporary stinging, redness and irritation, as well as flaking or crusting. After a chemical peel, it is essential that the skin be protected from the sun.
How Do Chemical Peels Work?
The point of a chemical peel is to accelerate the turnover of old, damaged skin cells. The treatment works by applying a specific concentration of acidic substances to the skin. These substances, such as salicylic acid or lactic acid, increase your skin's pH from its norm of about 5.5 to approximately 3.8. At this level, the cells that stick to the newer tissue beneath get dislodged. The bond between old cells and the next layer of tissue has been loosened by the chemicals, allowing for more significant exfoliation to occur.
Will I Need Downtime to Recover from My Chemical Peel?
You might need downtime after your chemical peel, yes. This will depend on the strength of your treatment, which we'll determine together during your consultation. Whether your goal is to prevent the onset of sun damage and aging or you want to correct one or more specific issues, you can select whatever strength of peel feels most suitable for your needs. If you prefer a light chemical peel and you have noticeable spots, textural irregularities, and lines, you may need a series of treatments to see more dramatic results. That said, you won't need any downtime whatsoever after a light chemical peel.
Medium-strength peels also range from lighter to deeper. These TCA and phenol peels can cause effects like visible redness and significant swelling. Some peels cause enough swelling for the eyes to remain shut for a short time. If you schedule a peel that's on the stronger side, you may be advised to take one to two weeks off work. You may also have some activity restrictions to follow, such as avoiding excessive heat and sun exposure.
While the skin is actively peeling, it remains important for you to wear broad-spectrum sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher. You may also be advised to apply a special type of moisturizer to promote optimal tissue recovery. Whatever flaking and peeling occur must be allowed to complete naturally. Do not exfoliate your skin. Do not pick or rub areas of flaking. Doing so could result in scarring or discoloration.
Do You Always Peel After Having a Chemical Peel?
It's possible to have a chemical peel without incurring actual peeling of your skin. This doesn't mean that the end result will be less satisfying, nor that the peel didn't work. The degree of peeling that you experience after your treatment can depend on your skin condition at the time of your peel, the strength of your peel, and other factors. Even without noticeable redness, swelling, and peeling, you can trust that your peel has accelerated your cellular turnover process. Within one to two weeks, your skin should look more radiant and feel silky smooth.
“Dr. Farris and his team are the best! His team takes the time to answer all your questions and leaves you feeling confident about the decision you make. Dr. Farris’ bedside manner compares to no one! My pre and post op appointments were amazing. His office is beautiful and state of the art. No expense was left in making me feel beautiful inside and out.”
Schedule Your Dallas Chemical Peel Today
Dr. Farris serves the Dallas-Fort Worth area and surrounding locations of Texas. Call (214) 363-1073 to schedule a consultation.