Chemical peel is a cosmetic procedure used to enhance and make facial skin smoother through the use of certain chemical solutions. These solutions work by removing the damaged layers of the skin which is most commonly exposed to the sun, resulting to facial skin that is free from blemishes, younger-looking, and evenly pigmented. It has also been used to control acne and soften its scars, reduce fine lines in the face, lighten freckles as well as other dark spots in the skin. While some people choose chemical peel over cosmetic surgery, problems such as sagging skin and severe wrinkles may require the need for other cosmetic procedures other than simple chemical peel.
Solutions that are available in the market for chemical peel are Alphahydroxy Acids (AHA), Trichloroacetic Acid (TCA), and Phenol solutions. The mildest form among all these are AHAs and the strongest chemical solutions are phenols. The depth of the chemical peel may either be light, medium or deep and will be determined by the doctor once a thorough assessment has been done on the skin. During initial consultation, it is always best to ask regarding the whole procedure, the advantages and disadvantages of the procedure, other alternatives and expected outcomes.
Weeks before the procedure, the doctor will usually advise the patient to stop taking certain medications which may be a possible cause of adverse reactions. Generally, the skin would need to be conditioned before the application of the prescribed chemical solution thus, topical medications such as Retin-A is usually applied beforehand. Antibiotics taken orally may also be prescribed by the doctor depending upon how deep the chemical peel would be so as to prevent infection.
The procedure is done in an outpatient set-up and does not require the use of anesthetic medications. Upon application of the chemical solution, the patient may feel a sensation of warmth and stinging which is typically felt for about ten minutes. After the procedure, one may expect redness, swelling, flaking of the skin and blisters, depending on the depth of application of the chemical peel. It is important to use sunblock after chemical peels to prevent further skin discoloration.
When chemical peels are performed by qualified doctors or dermatologists, it is generally considered to be safe. The patient is however, still prone to experiencing complications such as infection, development of scars, cold sores and skin discoloration which could either be temporary or permanent.