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Chemical Peels


The human skin constantly renews itself – new skin grows from the basal layer, rising through the epidermal layers to the stratum cornea.  As the new skin continues to rise, the old skin cells from the stratum cornea falls off.  This process of renewal and exfoliation of cells is a natural cycle the skin goes through each and everyday.

Chemical peels are a type of skin care treatment performed to accelerate the exfoliation of skin cells by using a chemical agent.  It induces change in the skin through 3 mechanisms: First, chemical peels stimulate the epidermal growth by removing the stratum cornea.  Second, it destroys targeted layers of damaged skin.  By destroying the damaged layers, new skin cells are allowed to grow and it results to a better cosmetic appearance.  Last, deep peels activate mediators of inflammation.  This encourages the production of ground substance and new collagen.

There are different levels of chemical peels – there’s the very superficial exfoliation, superficial or light chemical peels and then there are medium and deep peels

Very superficial peels remove the stratum corneum. It peels very thin layers of the skin and does not leave a wound below the stratum granulosum. The solution used for this type of peel contains 30% to 50 % glycolic acid.  Pain is minimal and the patient may proceed to doing normal activities right after the procedure.

Superficial or light peels induced a faster exfoliation of cells in the outer layer or the stratum cornea.  This is done to improve the appearance of scars, pigments and sun damage.  It is safe on all skin type.  The solution used contains alphahydroxy acids (AHAs).  The solution is applied on the skin and left between 2-7 minutes.  Water is applied on the skin to neutralize the acid and the solution is wiped off.  Pain level and recovery period is same with very superficial peels.  

Medium peels use chemical solutions that penetrate the skin deeply.  When applied on the skin, it causes a raw, sunburned appearance.  This type of peel is advisable for the treatment of mild to moderate wrinkles, pigment changes, long-term sun damage, and pre-cancerous lesions Once the solution is applied on the skin, it takes about 20 minutes before it is wiped off.  Swelling and redness may be experienced.  Pain is tolerable but the patient must take off a few days to recover.  Skin will turn reddish brown within 2 – 3 days and will start to flake off.

This type of chemical peel is used to treat long-term sun damage, severe wrinkles, more pronounce pigment changes and growths and lesions on the skin.  Retinoids or trichloroacetic acid is used to infiltrate several dermal layers.  The procedure takes about 1 1/2 hours and leaves the patient with a raw, sunburned look. Deep peels cause dramatic effects but the procedure can be done only once, as the risks are too great.  Pain level is high and severe swelling can be expected. The patient must rest a week to 20 days.