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Chemical Peel

Updated on November 11, 2011

Are you desperate for perfect skin?  Or are you one of those people who have so many skin problems that you feel like you need to do something about it?  Either way, you can resort to chemical peel so you can have a perfect skin or use it as a treatment from a chronic skin problem.


Chemical peel is a cosmetic surgery that takes off the outermost layer of the skin.  People who are familiar with the different kinds of cosmetic procedures may know this term as chemical peel.  But for people who are not familiar with this might just know it as skin peeling or cosmetic skin peeling.  The concept of this procedure is like having a sunburn where too much sunburn can cause your skin to peel off leaving a smoother inner layer of skin to show.


Chemical peel uses a chemical solution to remove the outer layer of the skin.  It can help enhance your skin health and appearance, remove unwanted blemishes and skin imperfections, helps in minimizing or even completely erase scars and skin marks.  Some of the skin problems it can remove include fine wrinkles, skin blotches, uneven skin tone or skin discoloration, freckles, dark spots, and mild scars.  Aside from these, almost every superficial skin problems can be solved with chemical peels.  For more serious skin problems, it can help treat precancerous skin tissues and help control acne.



Other Names for Chemical Peels

·         Chemexfoliation

·         Derma peel


The Different Categories of a Chemical Peel

There are different degrees in which a patient can choose their chemical peels, all of which involves the application of acidic solution that peels away the outermost layer of the skin allowing healthier looking skin to resurface.  There are three different chemical peeling procedures, phenol peel, trichloroacetic acid (TCA) peel, and alpha hydroxyl acid (AHA) peel.


AHA peel uses mild peeling formulas such as, glycolic acid, lactic acid, or other types of fruit acids.  This type of peeling is the mildest of all chemical peels.  It can help remove fine wrinkles, skin discoloration, acne, and help improve skin texture.  AHA peel will cause stinging, irritation, and crusting of the skin while healing.  Stay away from the sun while your skin is not fully healed.  It usually takes about 3 to 14 days for skin to fully recover and adjust to the treatment.  Totally avoid the sun during these times.


TCA peel is used for medium-depth peeling.  It is more concentrated than an AHA peel and patients who undergo this procedure need more time to recover from the treatment compared to AHA peel.  Just like an AHA peel, it can help remove wrinkles, uneven skin pigmentation, acne, and help enhance skin texture.  Unlike an AHA peel, people who choose this type of treatment may have more pronounced skin blemishes.  They may have deeper wrinkles, more obvious pigmentation, and bigger pimples.  People who choose TCA peels may need to apply a pre-treatment with AHA cream or Retin-A.  TCA peels will also cause stinging, irritation, and crusting of the skin.  Sun exposure will produce unwanted skin discoloration and sunburn.  It usually takes 2 weeks to 3 months for this treatment to fully heal.  Totally avoid the sun for the first 2 weeks after treatment.


Phenol peel uses the strongest chemical solution to produce deep peeling.  It is more advisable to use this type of peeling on precancerous skin tissues and on very obvious scars.  This type of peeling will lighten the skin dramatically so it is not for dark skinned individuals.  This chemical formula is so strong that it is very possible that scarring may result after the treatment especially if it is used on parts of the body other than the face.  Swelling on the treated area will occur.  With phenol peel, you’ll need to protect your skin from the sun for about 3 to 4 months.  Totally avoid the sun during these times.  This treatment is not for people with heart problems and for people who are under any serious medication. 

Considerations to Make When Planning For a Chemical Peel

While there are differences in the peeling degree of certain chemical peel solution, dermatologists usually use varied treatments with their clients.  For example, your TCA peel formula may be adjusted by your dermatologist to make it milder than medium-depth peeling or your AHA peel formula may be adjusted to make it stronger.


Just like any other kind of cosmetic surgery, chemical peel carries a certain degree of risk.  Allergies, infection, scarring and other unexpected skin problems may occur.  So, it is best that you choose your dermatologist carefully and to take into consideration any allergies you may have to the chemicals that will be used.


Before deciding for a chemical peel, it is best to consider what result you are expecting from the surgery and what procedure is best for you.  Some dermatologists may even recommend that you take a series of mild peels instead of a single strong and deep peeling.  It may be because strong peeling is very inconvenient and takes a very long time to heal.  A series of mild peeling may produce better results without having to go through much pain that is often associated with a single strong peel.


If you are frequently exposed to the sun, then chemical peel is not for you.  It can do more harm to you than good.  Also, depending on the tone of your skin, certain types of chemical peel may not be suitable for all skin types.  Those with very deep wrinkles may not benefit from this procedure as this is not an alternative for a facelift.


After Treatment Maintenance and Recovery Period

When going into any kind of cosmetic surgery, there is a recovery period that you’d need to consider. After your treatment, you’d notice a light peeling on the treated areas. Redness and tingling sensation will also be experienced. And to get the best results from your surgery, you’d need to maintain your skin through diet and application of creams and moisturizers. Depending on how disciplined you are, your skin may be at its best condition for a very long time or they may shortly pass just after a few months. It all will depend on how well you maintain your skin.


You should know that after going through a chemical peel, it would be best to avoid frequent sun exposure. While there are recommended days for you to avoid the sun after the treatment, caring for your skin and maintaining the appearance of your skin should include avoiding frequent exposure to sunlight. Protecting the skin from sun exposure will lengthen the amount of time that your skin is at its best.


Possible Side Effects

Chemical peels are generally safe especially for people who know how to care for their skin. Any side effects that may occur after the treatments are usually negligence on the part of the patients. Sun exposure immediately after the treatment, forgetting to care for the treated areas, scratching the treated areas, and using makeup before the skin heals can cause infection and possible scarring.


For TCA peels, pigmentation problems may occur as its undesirable side effect. For patients who go through phenol peels, pigmentation problems and abnormal heart rhythms are the usual side effects. There may also be a risk of increased sun sensitivity for the first few years after the treatment.


Caring For Your Skin

Do not scratch the treated skin. Scratching can result in mild blemishes which eventually will reduce the smoothness of the new skin. Keep your skin moist and hydrated by applying after treatment creams or lotions. Do not pick at the peeling skin as they may increase the risk of scarring. Wear sunscreens daily and avoid the sun. This will prolong the result of the peel.


Limitations of Chemical Peels

Chemical peels cannot tighten loose or sagging skin. It will not remove deep wrinkles. Deep scarring can only be minimized to a certain degree. Deep peeling cannot be done repeatedly due to the toxicity of the chemicals that may harm the body especially the heart.

People who are under certain medications and who have heart problems may not be qualified for this procedure. Certain medications can also affect the result of the peel.


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If you are looking for ways to improve your skin without cosmetic surgery, you might like to try out a product that promises just that. It can be a better option if you are not that fond of going under cosmetic surgery. Whether it is about cosmetic skin peeling or just trying to maintain a healthy skin, it can’t hurt you to give proper care for your skin.

On the other hand, if you do want to go through with chemical peeling on your skin, do check out these products for further information and see if they help you make up your mind.


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    • BeatsMe profile image

      BeatsMe 4 years ago

      Hi Mea, the prices will differ from country to country and even your local dermatologist/cosmetologist may name their price range differently. Sorry about that, I guess you just have to research that in your local area.

      Thanks for dropping by. :)

    • mea est opinio profile image

      Monica Zoe 4 years ago from California

      Great Hub... I wish you included some prices

    • BeatsMe profile image

      BeatsMe 5 years ago

      Thanks for dropping by, JPPhilips. Thanks for sharing your experience, you're lucky. :)

    • JPPhilips profile image

      JPPhilips 5 years ago from SC Piedmont Area

      Great hub.I have tried all of these. Never had a bad reaction. Guess I have tough skin . Always built up first.

    • BeatsMe profile image

      BeatsMe 6 years ago

      Hi Rusti, hope this hub helped you decide what to do. Best of luck. :)

    • Rusti Mccollum profile image

      Ruth McCollum 6 years ago from Lake Oswego, Oregon

      I've been thhinking of a chemical peel.You have given me more info than my dr! Great hub!

    • BeatsMe profile image

      BeatsMe 6 years ago

      Hi Jamie, hope you've contacted a professional dermatologist and not just anybody. Best of luck on your treatment. :)

    • profile image

      Jamie 6 years ago

      Thanks for such a quick reply :) ...I contacted someone today and scheduled an appointment for next week ... I will let you know how it goes... peace.

    • BeatsMe profile image

      BeatsMe 6 years ago

      Hi Jamie, you would have to check with your dermatologist about your questions. Those are serious questions you are asking, and a professional dermatologist should be able to answer them, including who will perform your cosmetic surgery for you and if you are qualified for a chemical peel.

    • profile image

      Jamie 6 years ago

      I have food allergies to fruit - so would I be able to have a peel done? ... And does anyone have any suggestions for where someone might find a good plastic surgeon? This is a serious matter and I hate to call up, just anyone, in the phone book...

    • BeatsMe profile image

      BeatsMe 6 years ago

      Hi LaserLipo, thanks for the additional info you've posted. :) And thanks for reading. Cheers.

    • BeatsMe profile image

      BeatsMe 6 years ago

      Hi Scott, hope this hub helped. Thanks for dropping by. Cheers.

    • scott33thomas profile image

      Manuel Porras 6 years ago from Germany, Colombia, USA, Panama, Mexico, Spain

      I like to know more about cosmetic treatments nice hub

    • BeatsMe profile image

      BeatsMe 7 years ago

      Hi Katyzzz, to answer your question "does it hurt". I'd have to say yes, it would definitely sting. Although the degree of the pain will greatly vary from the mildest to the strongest. I think the mild one here is already very mild, they use fruit acids for the peeling but if you're not into cosmetic surgeries, proper care should be enough.

      Thanks for reading. :)

    • katyzzz profile image

      katyzzz 7 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Amazing, clear and lucid account of this procedure. Does it hurt? But I think I'll stick with what nature gave me, but I do regret not being more careful with my skin. I had exceptionally good skin when I was young and it's still relatively good, I'm just pleased I have never smoked (less wrinkles) I don't think I'd mind a mild version of this, more mild than the mild one here.

    • BeatsMe profile image

      BeatsMe 7 years ago

      Hi Smcopywrite, I know, more and more people are becoming conscious about their appearance, hence, the popularity of cosmetic surgery. Thanks for stopping by. :)

    • smcopywrite profile image

      smcopywrite 7 years ago from all over the web

      chemical peels and other cosmetic surgery of this type are becoming more and more popular. thanks for the information. great hub

    • BeatsMe profile image

      BeatsMe 7 years ago

      Hi Nell, it's always kinda hard to think about going through cosmetic surgery, no matter how mild it may seem to be. Anyway, there are various products that can really improve the skin without going through all that, so we really have a choice.

      Thanks for coming by. :)

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 7 years ago from England

      Hi, this is very well explained, I did wonder what it involved, I am not sure I would want to do it, but if I did I would use the first one you mentioned, great info, rated up!


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