Chemical face peels have been around for thousands of years. Even Cleopatra in Ancient Egypt understood that the path to beautiful, glowing skin often begins with the fresh slate produced by a peel. In the modern age, we have come a long way since Cleopatra’s sour milk peels. At Nuance Cosmetic Surgery in Folsom, California, we offer a variety of chemical peels with personalized treatment plans to help you achieve your aesthetic goals.
What Is a Chemical Face Peel?
A chemical peel is a non-invasive facial treatment that is used to treat several skin concerns. You can think of a chemical peel as an enhanced facial that exfoliates the skin with different acids. The goal of any chemical peel is to remove the top layer of the dermis to reveal the new skin beneath and treat underlying skin issues. There are several over-the-counter products, such as sheet masks or acid-based serums, that accomplish the same task, but chemical peels are much more effective.
What Are the Benefits of a Chemical Face Peel?
There are many benefits of chemical peels that patients take into account when they consider this treatment. A chemical peel is an incredibly diverse treatment that can be used on every skin type. Chemical peels can address multiple skin issues successfully at one time without the need to combine treatments. Here are a few of the main benefits of chemical peels:
Many popular cosmetic treatments are invasive, such as fillers, micro-needling, and facelifts. For patients who would prefer to avoid needles or other invasive techniques, chemical peels are a good non-invasive alternative.
Non-invasive treatments typically have swifter recovery times and are considered gentler, more natural remedies. Additionally, non-invasive methods like chemical peels can serve as a good starting point for patients who are new to cosmetic treatments.
Patients who are interested in anti-aging treatments make great candidates for chemical peels. There are certain types of peels that are designed to reverse the effects of early signs of aging, such as dark spots, fine lines, and wrinkles.
Chemical peels are also known to help increase the production of collagen and elastin, which can improve skin laxity.
Chemical peels are excellent options for those who suffer from mild-to-moderate acne. The root cause of acne is clogged pores that trap bacteria in the skin. Chemical peels can be used for treating acne because a peel exfoliates the skin and penetrates to the deeper skin levels to kill bacteria at the source. Peels can also address the lingering after-effects of acne, such as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation and acne scarring.
Different Chemical Face Peels
The Ancient Egyptians knew a thing or two about using the natural acids found in food to promote healthy skin. For example, Cleopatra’s sour milk peels used lactic acid, which can help treat a dull, uneven complexion. In fact, we still use lactic acid today in mild chemical peels to reduce the appearance of pores and improve skin tone.
But as you might have guessed, there is more than one type of chemical peel. Generally, all chemical peels fall into one of three categories: light peels, medium peels, and deep peels.
A light chemical peel addresses superficial skin problems, such as acne, fine lines, and uneven complexion. Light peels are the most common type of chemical peel and usually the first type of peel most patients have. Light peels use mild chemicals, such as AHA or glycolic acid, to exfoliate the top layer of skin and produce a healthy glow.
A medium peel uses stronger chemicals that exfoliate both the top layer and the mid-layers of skin. The chemicals in medium peels penetrate deeper levels of the skin and can treat more serious skin issues, such as acne scarring and wrinkles.
A deep peel is a one-time-only treatment because of how deeply the chemicals penetrate the skin. Deep peels remove the top, medium, and lower layers of the dermis, which can treat severe wrinkles, sun damage, and scars. Deep peels are sometimes used to treat precancerous growths.
Our Speciality – TCA Chemical Peels
At our clinic, we specialize in TCA chemical peels. Trichloroacetic acid (TCA) is a chemical used in medium peels that can be used for spot treatments or on the whole face. Like other medium peels, a TCA peel can treat acne scarring and early signs of aging. TCA peels can also be used to treat blemishes, uneven complexion, and sun damage.
The Chemical Face Peel Treatment Process
Your initial appointment is a consultation with our skilled staff and Dr. Sumida. We will review your general medical history, including your current skincare routine and the products you use. We will examine the condition of your skin, particularly your skin tone and skin thickness. We will also ask you about your aesthetic goals and your expectations of the treatment.
All of this information will help us determine if a chemical peel is right for you as well as which type of chemical peel will help you reach your appearance goals. Dr. Sumida will make recommendations based on your needs and create a personalized treatment plan for your next appointment.
At your initial appointment, we might prescribe pre-treatment medications, such as an antiviral medication or a retinoid cream. There are other pre-treatment guidelines we will ask you to follow in the weeks before your chemical peel appointment, such as avoiding direct sunlight and using sunscreen. We may also ask that you temporarily stop waxing and stop using exfoliating scrubs. It is important to follow these guidelines so that your chemical peel will have the desired results.
Depending on the type of chemical peel you plan to have, we may also advise that you take a sedative or pain killer before your appointment. This is a common practice for medium and deep peels to ensure your comfort for the duration of the treatment. We may also ask you to arrange transportation if you are doing a deep chemical peel.
Step One: Cleanse
At your treatment appointment, the first thing we will do is cleanse your face. We will use a gentle cleanser and alcohol to completely free your skin of excess dirt and oil. We double cleanse to make sure all the oil is gone so that the chemical used for your peel can spread evenly across your skin.
We may also take precautions to cover your eyes and hair. For deep chemical peels, we will also prep your skin with a local anesthetic for your comfort.
Step Two: Application
Once your skin is prepared, we will next apply the chemical to your face. The application of the chemical is usually done with a brush or a cotton pad. We will allow the chemical to rest on the skin for several minutes until fully absorbed. At this point, many patients feel some sensation on their skin. This sensation lasts only for as long as the chemical is applied and will fade.
Step Three: Neutralize
After the chemical has been on your skin for the specified amount of time, we will cleanse your skin with a neutralizing solution. The neutralizing solution will completely remove the chemical from your skin without causing a conflicting effect.
Step Four: Ointment
At the end of your treatment session, we will apply an ointment to your skin to help it heal from the peel. The ointment will protect your skin for the first several hours following the peel when skin is at its most vulnerable. We may also prescribe an ointment for you to use for a time after your peel.
From start to finish, a chemical peel takes between 30 to 90 minutes to complete, depending on the type of peel being done.
You will be given post-treatment guidelines after your chemical peel. These guidelines are important to follow so that your skin will heal well from the treatment. Post-treatment guidelines include temporarily stopping the use of retinoids, topical acne medications, and certain cleansers or serums for the first week after your peel. You are also strongly advised to avoid direct sun exposure and to generously use sunscreen for several weeks to months after your peel.
Depending on the type of chemical peel you have, you may have additional post-treatment guidelines to follow, such as using a cold compress on your skin.
What Is Recovery Like?
Recovery from a chemical peel takes a little time since you are stripping your skin of its most protective layer. For the first few days after the treatment, your skin will be sensitive. You may experience redness, dryness, a tight feeling, and even minor swelling. These are all temporary side effects that fade quickly following a chemical peel. We will advise you to limit your activity for the first few days after a peel.
Most patients are fully recovered from a chemical peel after 2 weeks when new skin has fully healed over the treated area. While you may return to normal activities at this time, we still advise that you continue to avoid sun exposure and use sunscreen. Your new skin might be healed, but it is still vulnerable to damage caused by sun or other chemicals.
We advise that you avoid using make-up until your skin fully recovers from a peel. We also recommend that you use gentle cleansers and that you moisturize regularly with an approved product. If you aren’t sure what products are okay to use after a peel, please confirm with our staff.
When Can You See Results?
Most patients see the results of the peel within 1 to 2 weeks following the treatment. Results of a chemical peel are most obvious after the new skin has completely healed. You will see a reduction in pore size, fine lines, acne scarring, acne, and dark spots. You will also enjoy a brighter complexion and a better skin texture following a peel.
How Often Should You Have a Chemical Face Peel?
The time between peels is determined by the type of peel you have. For light peels, we recommend having a peel done once every 4 to 6 weeks. Some patients who use peels to treat acne do a series of peels about 2 weeks apart until desired results are achieved. For medium peels, we advise spacing treatments about 6 months apart since the chemicals are stronger. Deep peels can only be done once.
Chemical peels are diverse skin treatments that can be used on most everyone. There are few medical restrictions that might disqualify a candidate. Ideal candidates include those with:
- Early visible aging
- Skin scars and dark spots
- Dull or uneven skin
- Sun damage
If you think a chemical face peel might be right for you, give Nuance Cosmetic Surgery in Folsom, California a call today to schedule your initial consultation. We look forward to the opportunity to help you reach your aesthetic goals!