What is a Chemical Peel?

Sun damage can have many presentations on the skin. Some of the most common presentations of chronic sun damage include abnormal texture and color to the skin. When a chemical peel is applied to the skin, it removes the damaged layers of the skin, and in so doing can help improve abnormal texture, which includes typical rough areas of the skin as well as abnormal pigmentation or color to the skin, such as chronic sun exposure leading to brown spots on the face or unwanted mottling of the skin. Chemical peel application by removing the sun damaged layers can reduce the mottling of the skin, reduce the abnormal pigmentation, the brown spots and the discoloration of the skin, and also improve the texture of the skin, and make it much more smooth.

Chemical peels can aid in reducing the risk of certain skin cancers by exfoliating or removing the top layer of skin. The majority of precancerous growths and cells of the skin, as well as skin cancers themselves, arise from the top layer of skin known as the epidermis. When you exfoliate the epidermis through the act of a chemical peel, you have the ability to remove the damaged layer of skin, and give more youthful and younger and less damaged cells with the chance to take root and grow a new epidermis which has fewer abnormal cells in it.

The number of treatments needed for chemical peels depends on the goal of the individual patient. The more vibrant or rigorous the goal in reducing abnormal discoloration of the skin or texture, the more treatments are likely needed in order to accomplish that goal.

The downtime for chemical peels depends on the strength of the chemical peel. The more superficial peels, like glycolic acid, can have a very quick recovery in under a week. The more aggressive, vigorous peels, such as the TCA peel, can have one to two weeks of recovery. It’s very important for patients to understand that the amount of improvement with a chemical peel is directly proportional to the death of a peel, and that is also directly proportional to the amount of downtime needed to recover from a peel. For instance, the more aggressive the peel, the more time it will take to recover. So it’s very prudent to avoid the sun during that healing time, and plan this around social events so it doesn’t interfere with that social event calendar.