Chemical Skin Peels: Does This Type of Exfoliant Really Make You Look Younger?

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There’s a few things in life we can count on.  Aging skin and paying taxes being two of the most common. And while it can be very difficult to avoid paying our taxes, when it comes to delaying our skin from aging, there is at least some hope. There are many ways to slow signs of the aging process, and perhaps even reverse some of the visible effects.

There are several different types of chemical skin peels. They
can be differentiated by chemical type and depth of the peel. No matter
what type of peel you are considering, you should know they all wound
the skin. You see this type of beauty treatment takes full advantage of
the body’s natural healing process. When the body is injured, it heals
by shrinking and tightening the skin, the deeper the wound the more
profound the overall affect.

At the light end of the chemical exfoliate scale is what you
might call the lunch hour chemical skin peels. Glycolic peels can be
done in an hour or less and use a very low-level chemical concentration.
Over time, your skin becomes accustomed to the procedure allowing your
doctor to increase the dosage, so to speak. The effects of this chemical
peel are not nearly as noticeable as deeper peels, but with repeated
use, your skin will show definite improvement. You can expect a better
skin tone, refreshed and younger overall.

If you are looking for something a little more intense, your
doctor or practitioner may suggest a TCA peel (trichloroacetic acid).
Chemical skin peels at this level are similar to a six-month glycolic
acid (lunch hour) peel. As you can imagine the results can be quite
spectacular especially if you suffer with large brown splotches of
pigmentation. It is important to prepare your skin for this peel, and be
ready to deal with the pain! TCA peels can be accomplished in as little
as 30 minutes, but it will be a very intense half hour. In fact,
doctors advise heart patients skip these chemical skin peels.

Start by preparing the skin with Retin-A or AHA cream and
learning all you can about follow-up and aftercare requirements. Keep in
mind that this is not a one-time treatment, you will likely be required
to make follow up appointments if you want to maintain the
results.

Phenol is the strongest possible chemical skin peel solution,
think of it as the top of the food chain. If you are struggling with
deep scars from acne, accidents or other causes, a phenol peel is the
most likely solution. After phenol chemical skin peels, you will see
dramatic results that will last for decades if not longer and there are
no special follow up treatments required to maintain the
results.

The biggest problem with a deep exfoliant is the change in skin
color. Patients who have undergone phenol deep peels will have telltale
pale skin. You should understand this is not just pale skin; you will
be nearly ghost white, which leaves you with an unnatural appearance. If
you are thinking about now that you can simply tan to improve your skin
color, think again! Extremely deep chemical skin peels result in skin
surfaces that will never tan again. As you might imagine this means,
tanning the rest of the body is also a bad idea, as it will merely
intensify the pallor of the areas you have peeled. You will have a
younger look, albeit quite pale.

On the same level as phenol chemical peels is laser
resurfacing. Technically this is not a “chemical” treatment as high
intensity lasers do the work of removing skin layers rather than
concentrated chemicals. Indications:

Infection- keep in mind you are
removing several levels of skin, which means infection is always a risk.
Bacterial, fungal and viral infections are possible, but the most
common infection is a flare up of the herpes virus. This virus is
responsible for cold sores and is generally already present, just
dormant.

Acne- after treatment you will
need to apply heavy creams and ointments, which can result in temporary
acne flare-ups.

Eyelid- (ectropion) a very rare
side effect of laser ablation is Ectropion, a condition where the lower
eyelid turns out. Surgery is required to fix this issue.

Scarring- there is always a risk
of permanent scarring with ablative laser treatments.

Can you do a chemical peel at home? The short answer is yes,
however you must realize the acid levels are very low. Over the counter
treatments can be productive, but it will take some time and the results
are extremely subtle. If you want to look younger in a short amount of
time, at home exfoliant is not the way to go!

If peeling your skin chemically or laser ablation does not sit
well with you, there are a few alternatives. The first, of course is
simply preventing as much skin damage as you humanly can. Proper sun
protection, hydration and even exercise can make a world of difference
in your skin. However, even with the best care acne scars, pigmentation
and other issues may result in a desire for cosmetic procedures. One
alternative is dermabrasion.

Dermabrasion is a surgical process where skin layers are worn
away in a controlled setting. Sandpaper is a commonly used abrasive but
other mechanical means can be used, as well as lasers. The mechanical
process is preferred in most cases as it gives the same results but cost
much less.

Chemical peels to achieve younger looking skin, and often as
scar treatments are not a new concept. In fact the use of citric acids
has been used as a common exfoliant for hundreds of years. Today of
course, the process has been refined and somewhat improved. Whether you
would like to remove a few fine lines and wrinkles or need to deal with
serious scarring, there will be chemical peels offered to suit your
needs—but be sure they actually do. If you plan to undergo a serious
deep tissue level peel, make sure you check the credentials of your
dermatologistFeature Articles, because a negative outcome may also be a lasting
one.