People can be confused about what a chemical peel is and what it can do. The name can be off-putting, but a chemical peel is really just an exfoliation of different degrees, depending on the chemicals used. In a chemical peel, a chemical solution is applied to the skin to exfoliate it. Once the top layer and its dead and damaged skin is removed, new, healthier cells replace them, presenting a smoother, more youthful appearance. A chemical peel can treat fine lines around the mouth or under the eyes. It can be used to treat wrinkles caused by aging and sun exposure. Some chemical peels can effectively improve the appearance of acne scars and other mild scars. Peels also improve the appearance of age spots, melasma, freckles, and other blemishes.
Who can benefit from a chemical peel?
Because they have lighter pigmentation, patients who have fair skin and light hair are better candidates for peels. Those with a dark complexion may reap good results, but it depends upon their skin condition. Dark-skinned patients can wind up with uneven skin tone after a chemical peel. Chemical peels are not effective on severe wrinkles, sagging skin, and bulges. These conditions are better suited to cosmetic surgical options such as a facelift, eyelid lift, brow lift, or tissue fillers.
What can I expect from a chemical peel?
There are many different chemical peel options, but Dr. Wallach most often uses trichloroacetic acid (TCA). This provides a medium-depth peel. More aggressive peels such as phenol peels penetrate more deeply and therefore require more recovery time. With TCA peels, the procedure usually takes around an hour. Recovery time is about one week. Some peeling and redness should be expected. This will be followed by scaling that can last up to one week. After your chemical peel, you will need to be very cautious concerning protection from the sun, as your skin will be very sensitive for months.