Chemical Peel

A chemical peel is a process whereby a chemical is applied to the skin to remove the skin's outer layers. It removes more skin that microdermabrasion. It is used to lessen the effects of facial blemishes such as age spots, wrinkles and bad acne scars, although it is not a substitute for a facelift.

Many skin problems are caused by an excessive build up of dead skin cells on the surface of the skin, and chemical peels address this issue.

What sort of peel should I have?

Chemical peels come in different strengths depending upon the chemicals used. The mildest peels contain fruit Alphahydroxy acids (AHA), eg fruit acids and glycolic acid. The recovery from these peels is quicker but their effects are less marked than for the stronger peels. This type of peel can smooth out the surface of the skin and may help to control acne. Recovery is usually instant, although it is recommended for best results that the peel be repeated every six weeks. You may require pre treatment with a wash and / or a cream.

Trichloroacetic acid (TCA) is often used for a medium depth peel and it is effective at treating superficial wrinkles, imperfections and pigmentation anomalies. You may require a pre-treatment, with a Retin-A or AHA cream.

The strongest peel used is Phenol. It is used for patients with deeper wrinkles. It can have a bleaching effect on the skin so may not be suitable for everyone, especially dark skinned patients. It may permanently remove freckles. The recovery time for a Phenol peel is much longer.

Are there any risks?

Infection and scarring are possible, but unlikely. You should make sure that the person applying the peel is properly qualified, especially in the case of the phenol peels which are strong. You should always use sun block after a chemical peel.