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Don’t Get Intimidated by the Sound of “Chemical Peels”


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by Dr. Steven Wallach

Patients, especially those who have been used to traditional facial treatments, may be intimidated the moment they walk into the doctor’s office and hear the words “chemical peels”. Oftentimes, you may wonder about the chemicals being used during the procedure as well as how they can initiate the “peeling” process. The words “chemical” and “peeling” may sound dangerous when combined, but with the right information, there is little to worry about. Different chemicals can be used during this type of treatment to address different skin problems, such as wrinkles, acne, and fine lines. Some types of chemical peels include:

  • Trichloroacetic acid (TCA). This chemical is commonly used as an agent in medium-level peeling. Unless the chemical peel treatment uses less than 10% of TCA, the procedure should be performed by a trained physician. A chemical peel that uses this chemical aims to treat skin imperfections and discolorations by coagulating skin protein. However, it must be used with caution, especially in patients with dark skin, in order to prevent hyperpigmentation.
  • Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs). Derived from milk, fruit, and sugar cane, these are mild organic acids that encourage epidermal sloughing, thereby improving the appearance of acne scars, dark spots, and fine lines, as well as improving the patient’s overall skin tone. Since these are only mild peels, they only cause minimal irritation and no downtime.
  • Beta hydroxyl acid (BHA). Commonly known as salicylic acid, it treats skin conditions similar to what AHAs treat, only it penetrates more deeply into the epidermis. This type of chemical peel is derived in birch bark and wintergreen leaves and has long been used for the treatment of psoriasis, warts, acne, and other skin conditions. Because of its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory effects, it can be effectively used in patients with sensitive and acne-prone skin.

It is important to determine the right type of chemical to be used during treatment. The right doctor can help you go over the available options and choose the treatment that is most suitable for you. Contact Dr. Wallach today at 212-861-6400 and schedule a consultation with him to learn more about chemical peels and how you can have smoother and younger-looking skin.

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