Thanks to advancing and accessible technology, taking care of your skin is easier than ever before. If you are trying to improve the texture of your skin, chemical peels are an ideal way to do so. You can get a chemical peel on your face, neck, or hands to help exfoliate the outer layer of your skin to reveal new, generated skin.
Chemical peels are ideal for treating the following:
- Acne scars
- Age spots
- Crow’s feet
- Aging skin
- Sun-damaged skin
- Sagging/droopy skin
There are three basic types of chemical peels that target different layers of your skin.
- Superficial peel: Just as it sounds, this type of chemical peel penetrates only the outer layer of your skin. A mild acid such as alpha-hydroxy is used to gently exfoliate the outer layer of skin to improve issues such as mild skin discoloration or rough skin. You will leave this facial feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.
- Medium peel: This is the second type of chemical peel that targets both the outer and middle layers of the skin to get rid of the damaged cells. Either glycolic or trichloroacetic acid is utilized. Medium peels are ideal for targeting fine lines, wrinkles, or age spots. They can also be used to smooth out rough skin or to treat precancerous skin growths such as actinic keratosis.
- Deep peel: Through the use of trichloroacetic acid or phenol, deep peels penetrate the middle layer of your skin to get rid of damaged cells. Deep peels are ideal for treating moderate age lines, shallow scars, freckles, or age spots. Only your face can get a deep peel and the treatment should only be performed one time.
The healing process depends on the type of peel that you receive. For superficial peels, you can expect healing time to be from one to seven days. Lotion or cream is ideal to help provide relief, and makeup can typically be applied the following day.
Medium peels take roughly seven to 14 days to heal, and you can expect some swelling in the first 48 hours. Your skin should also be soaked daily followed by applying ointment. Stay out of the sun until the healing process is complete.
Deep peels require approximately 14-21 days to heal and the treatment area will be bandaged. You will need to soak the treated skin 4-6 times per day followed by applying a thick moisturizer. Sun exposure should be avoided for three to six months.
Would I be a good candidate for a chemical peel?
Chemical peels are not good treatment options for patients with darker skin tones. This is because the peels can create areas of darker or lighter skin (hyperpigmentation or hypopigmentation) where treated. Patients with active skin conditions, such as eczema or psoriasis, cannot have a peel until their flare-up resolves. Any skin infections also preclude a chemical peel. If a patient is prone to developing keloid scars, peels are not a good idea.
Otherwise, these are non-invasive treatments and they simply give your skin’s exfoliation process a boost. Because of that, most people are great candidates to rejuvenate their skin with a chemical peel at The MedSpa at Northwestern Specialists.
What are the peeling agents used?
- For our superficial peels, we use only naturally occurring acids. These are glycolic acid (derived from sugar cane, grapes, or sugar beets), lactic acid (derived from sour milk), or salicylic acid (derived from plants).
- For our medium peels, we use trichloroacetic acid. This acid is a relative of vinegar, and it creates deeper penetration than the glycolic acids used in our superficial peels.
- We only perform limited deep peels, due to their potential for scarring and a lengthy recovery. These typically are done with phenol acid.
What do I need to do to prepare for a chemical peel?
Prior to coming to our Saint Clair Street offices for your peel, you’ll need to be sure you don’t have microdermabrasion done for at least two weeks prior. Also, no depilatory hair removal treatments or waxing for at least a week prior to your peel. The same goes for any injectables, such as Botox.
It’s important to stay out of the sun for at least 10 days before your peel.
We’ll discuss this with you prior to your peel, but you’ll need to stop taking certain medications for a period of time before your peel, as they can interact with the peeling agents. These are most commonly photosynthesizing drugs, which increase sensitivity to sunlight. They include anti-inflammatory medications, antihistamines, antimicrobials, certain contraceptives, and other medications.
If you’re on the acne medication isotretinoin, you need to have completed your treatment for at least six months prior to having a chemical peel.
What should I not do after getting a chemical peel?
- After a peel you need to leave your skin alone — Don’t touch, pick, or pull on the peeling skin. This interrupts the skin’s natural healing cycle. Plus, it can cause infection or even hyperpigmentation.
- Use a moisturizer, but just enough to be comfortable — The dry, tight feeling is part of the process, so you only want to apply enough moisturizer (and make it very bland and neutral) to keep comfortable.
- Use sunscreen — You’re trying to get rid of the sun-damaged skin with your peel, so you must protect your new skin with SPF 30 or higher sunscreen and protective clothing.
What kind of results can I expect from my peel?
The skin is our body’s largest organ, consisting of three layers — the epidermis (outer layer), dermis (middle layer), and the fat layer. To fight off the damage from exposure to the elements, our skin is in a constant state of shedding and rebuilding. In fact, we shed our entire skin about once every month. This is the process of exfoliation.
At The Med Spa in Northwestern Specialists, we simply use chemical peels to give the exfoliation process a boost. By delivering chemical agents that encourage some of the epidermises to shed, this reveals younger, healthier skin beneath. Peels have been proven to stimulate cellular activity to improve the skin.
In the process, age spots, acne scars, fine lines, dead skin cells, and other imperfections are peeled away. The purpose of a peel is to erase imperfections and improve skin tone and texture.
How often can I get a chemical peel?
There are limitations on the frequency you can have chemical peels, depending on the peeling agent.
- Superficial peels have no limitations. Patients often come in once a month for these peels to keep boosting their skin cell turnover.
- Medium peels can only be done quarterly.
- Deep peels are a once-in-a-lifetime event.
How long can I expect my results to last?
The exfoliation and skin cell regeneration achieved with our chemical peels is permanent. Obviously, shed skin cells and rebuilt areas of new skin are permanent improvements in your skin. But your skin completely turns over about every 27 days (this cycle slows as we age), so you’re continually dealing with new skin.
How long you can enjoy your refreshed, rejuvenated skin is up to you, to a degree. Protect it from sun damage and keep it moisturized and you’ll enjoy the improvements for weeks with medium peels.
Will I have any recovery after a chemical peel?
Here’s what to expect after your light or medium peel at The Med Spa.
- Light peels — Light peels are very easy to take. If these are new to your skin, initially light peels may cause some minor redness and irritation. But as your skin sheds the dead outer cells and becomes accustomed to these, your skin will simply glow after your peel.
- Medium peels — There will be some recovery with these peels, as the trichloroacetic acid penetrates more deeply into the dermis layer beneath the epidermis. These peels can leave your skin red and stinging. You will have some crusting, as well. Depending on your skin, facial redness can linger for a couple of weeks.
What are the risks associated with chemical peels?
Chemical peels are nothing new. They’ve been performed for centuries. Cleopatra was the first documented chemical peel aficionado, using sour milk (lactic acid) as the ingredient to cause her skin to peel, keeping it younger looking and vibrant.
When chemical peels are done by trained, experienced professionals, such as the team at The MedSpa at Northwestern Specialists in Plastic Surgery, they are safe and effective. Getting a chemical peel from the place you get your nails done is a bad idea. The chemical agents can burn and scar if the person applying them doesn’t know what he or she is doing.
You need to remember the goal — to remove varying degrees of the outer layers of the skin. Because this exfoliation is forced to a deeper degree, there is some redness and tenderness after your treatment. Your face will feel a little dry. With a light peel, it will feel as if you have a light sunburn. With a medium peel, it will feel more like a medium sunburn. There will be some light flaking with light peels. Medium peels will have a little crusting of the skin. Other than that, our light and medium chemical peels are safe without any real side effects.
Deep peels have a much more involved recovery and there can be danger of infection and scarring; that’s one reason we rarely perform deep phenol peels.
Schedule Your Consultation Today
If you’re interested in learning more about chemical peels please contact us for a consultation at (312) 266-6240 or fill out our contact us form. We will discuss your needs and concerns, and determine your best course of action.