What is a chemical peel?
Chemical peels are treatments in which various chemicals with an acidic composition are applied to the skin in order to improve the appearance and texture.
- Fine lines
- Wrinkles caused by sun damage, ageing and hereditary factors
- Scarring including acne scars
- Pigmentary irregularity including age spots, freckles and dark patches due to hormonal changes (melasma)
- Dark under-eye circles
- Certain types of acne
- Dull skin texture
Who is a good candidate for a chemical peel?
Generally, fair-skinned and light-haired patients are ideal candidates for chemical peels. Darker skin types may also have good results, depending upon the type of problem being treated.
How are chemical peels performed?
A chemical peel can be performed in a consultant dermatologist’s or cosmetic surgeon’s consulting room or as an outpatient procedure.
The skin is thoroughly cleansed with an agent that removes excess oils and the eyes and hair are protected. One or more chemical solutions, such as glycolic acid, trichloroacetic acid, salicylic acid, lactic acid or mandelic are applied to the skin. These applications remove surface dead skin cells, enabling new, regenerated skin to appear.
Preparing for a chemical peel
Prior to the chemical peel, your doctor may ask you to stop taking certain medicines and in some cases may recommend topical skin preconditioning medications such as tretinoin or glycolic acid. If you suffer from cold sores it is important to state this so that prophylactic medication can be prescribed before the treatment is undertaken.
During the treatment
The solution is applied to skin and left on for a number of minutes. The skin usually feels tingly and warm whilst the solution is upon it. This sensation will calm once the peel has been neutralized and soothing balm applied. A sun-block cream will then be applied.
What to expect following peeling
There may be some redness, the degree of which will depend on the your skin type and the strength of peel used. There may be some sloughing of dead surface skin for a few days; the newly exfoliated skin may be quite sensitive and will be susceptible to UV damage. It is very important to use a broad spectrum sun block to prevent this in addition to generous applications of moisturiser at least twice daily.
Possible unwanted effects
- Acne break-outs
- Cold sores (if susceptible)
- Eczema (if susceptible)
- Skin sores, rash, pimples hives, cysts or infection
- Known allergy or sensitivity to any of the ingredients