The phrase “chemical peel” sounds somewhat intimidating, but this form of skin resurfacing treatment has been used safely for millennia. Researchers believe that the practice of using acidic compounds to improve the condition of the skin dates to ancient Egypt. Egyptian women, including Cleopatra, used fermented grapes and sour milk for bathing after noticing these substances made their skin softer, smoother, and more radiant. This effect occurred as hydroxy acids present sped up cell turnover and encouraged the production of collagen and elastin. Today’s chemical peels, while much more powerful, adhere to the same basic principle.
How Do Chemical Peels Work?
During a treatment, an acidic solution (such as glycolic acid, trichloroacetic acid, salicylic acid, lactic acid, or phenol) is applied to the skin. Patients elect to have their procedure performed on the face, but treatment can be administered to other areas of the body as well, such as the hands. The acidic solution causes the uppermost layer of the skin to harmlessly come away (think of the way your skin peels off after a sunburn) revealing a fresh layer of skin beneath.
This process helps to improve the condition of the skin in multiple ways. First, forcing the epidermis to peel away removes damaged skin cells. The sun-damaged cells that form age spots, for example, are removed, creating an even skin tone. Chemical peels also unclog the pores and allow the skin to breathe, speeding up the rate of cell turnover and increasing the brightness of the skin.
Finally, by creating a superficial wound in the epidermis, treatment activates the body’s healing response, sending a surge of collagen to the treated areas. Collagen, which we gradually lose starting around age 30, is responsible for keeping the skin supple, strong, and hydrated. As such, increasing collagen production makes the skin tighter, smoother, and firmer. Existing fine lines and wrinkles are reduced, and the skin becomes more resistant to wrinkle formation.
Chemical peels remain a popular way of rejuvenating the skin, as they are efficient and versatile cosmetic procedures. Solutions are available in several different strengths, allowing patients to choose the treatment protocol that best meets their needs. Strong solutions can be used to produce profound results relatively quickly, but they come with noticeable side effects (such as blistering, soreness, and lingering redness). Gentle solutions are used to create results more subtly and gradually. These gentle procedures have a low risk of side effects, but patients will usually require multiple treatment sessions to achieve optimal results.
What Can a Chemical Peel Do for Me?
Your customized treatment is used to create all the following positive changes in skin condition:
- Better overall skin tone and texture, including a reduction in age spots and rough patches
- Fewer acne lesions and a reduction in the severity of acne scars
- Fewer lines and wrinkles
- A brighter, more radiant complexion
- Firmer, younger looking skin
- Reduces the appearance of scars related to chickenpox or minor injuries
- Minimizes patches of darkened skin (melasma) related to pregnancy or other factors
Chemical Peel Recovery
As treatment is nonsurgical, you won’t have to rest or spend any time recuperating after having a chemical peel. Most patients can return to work within two to seven days. However, if you have a deep resurfacing treatment, you may need to stay home for about two weeks while your skin heals.
It’s common for patients to experience some degree of redness and irritation after this procedure, which then gives way to peeling. Deep treatment may produce some degree of blistering. After a deep peel, you’ll be given instructions on how to care for your skin and reduce discomfort.
Regardless of your chosen procedure, you will need to protect your skin from the sun for at least a week. Your skin will be much more vulnerable to sun damage during this time—and the last thing you want is to jeopardize the results of your procedure by damaging your skin. Wear a sunscreen with a high SPF value while you’re healing. You should also wear a broad-brimmed hat and limit your time outside as much as possible.
Book Your Chemical Peel Consultation in Ontario
Enjoy the benefits of a time-tested way to combat the effects of aging on the skin and reduce the appearance of blemishes. If you would like to discuss chemical peels with us in more depth, book a consultation at our Burlington plastic surgery office.