A Guide to Chemical Peels
Chemical peel is used to improve the appearance of the skin. A chemical solution is applied to the skin that causes it to "blister" and eventually peel off. Fine lines and wrinkles can often be reduced or even eliminated with this procedure. Skin blotches like sunspots, age spots and freckles can be minimized. Mild scarring, certain types of acne, and dull skin can be improved by chemical peels.
The more common types of chemical peels are:
1) Glycolic acid peel - This produces superficial peeling and may require multiple sessions, with option to use increasing concentrations at 20%, 30%, and 40%. It improves skin texture, reduces fine lines and mild scarring, and helps prevent acne breakouts. It is also used to enhance penetration of other skin actives for lightening and anti-aging.
2) Salicylic acid peel – Studies show that salicylic acid has the ability to get deeper into the pore than glycolic acid. It is now the preferred peel in controlling oil production, and in preventing formation of blackheads and whiteheads. In general, salicylic acid does not produce as deep a peel as a similar concentration of glycolic acid.
3) Jessner's peel – Dr. Max Jessner combined 14% salicylic acid, lactic acid, and resorcinol in an ethanol base for a very mild acid combination that is often applied right before a deeper peel to “open up the skin.”
4) Retinoic acid peel - This is a deeper peel than salicylic acid peel and is usually performed in conjunction with a Jessner. The client leaves with the solution on their face. The peeling takes place on the 3rd day onwards. Expect dramatic improvements with multiple peels over time with scars, wrinkles and pigmentation problems.
5) Trichloroacetic acid (TCA) peel – This can produce intermediate to deep peeling in concentrations ranging from 20-35%. Depth of penetration is increased as concentration increases. Concentrations higher than 35% are not recommended because of the high risk of scarring. TCA peel can smooth out fine wrinkles and remove superficial blemishes. Skin will take several days to heal depending on the peel depth. Repeat treatments are usually required.
6) Phenol peel – This carbolic acid peel is the strongest which produces dramatic improvement with just a single treatment. However, phenol peels may pose high risks in darker skinned patients and may result in permanent uneven skin tone.
After any kind of chemical peel, it is important to avoid prolonged sun exposure and to always wear broad-spectrum sunscreen, like DERMAX UV MILK since the new skin is susceptible to complications. The dermatologist will prescribe other post treatment care to reduce the tendency to develop abnormal skin color after peeling.
This was published in the April 9, 2013 issue of Manila Bulletin, Lifestyle Section. The author, Fred C. Reyes, is the CEO of SkinStation. He received the 2011 Outstanding Chemist Award from Professional Regulations Commission for his achievements in the field of cosmetic chemistry. He can be reached at email@example.com.