Chemical Peels: Procedure, Benefits, and Cost

Chemical Peels: Procedure, Benefits, and Cost

A chemical peel is a skin-resurfacing procedure that involves the use of a chemical solution to remove the top layers of your skin to allow for the growth of a smoother and younger-looking skin. A chemical peel is used to clear out wrinkles, skin discoloration, and scars from the skin, usually from the face.

Chemical peels are of 3 different depths which are light, medium, and deep. The depth of peel you chose will depend on the skin problem you are treating and your desired results. Deep chemical peels provide more dramatic results.

Depth of chemical peel treatments

Chemical peels are of 3 different depths. The kind of skin problem you are treating and your desired result will determine the depth of peel you choose.

The 3 chemical peel treatment depths include:

Light chemical peel

A light chemical peel is also known as superficial chemical peel. It involves the removal of the outer layer of the skin (epidermis). Light chemical peel is used to treat fine wrinkles, acne, uneven skin tone, and dryness. Light chemical peel may be repeated every two to five weeks to maintain your desired results.

Medium chemical peel

A medium chemical peelinvolves the removal of the outer layers of the epidermis and from some parts of the upper region of the dermis. Medium chemical peel is used to treat wrinkles, acne scars, and uneven skin tone. Medium chemical peel may be repeated after three to nine months to maintain your desired results.

Deep chemical peel

A deep chemical peel treatment involves the removal of the outer layers of the epidermis and from the mid to lower portions of the dermis. Deep chemical peel is used to treat deeper wrinkles, scars or precancerous growths. Deep chemical peel provides more dramatic results and can only be performed once.

Before undergoing a chemical peel

Chemical Peels: Procedure, Benefits, and Cost

Before undergoing a chemical peel, your doctor will conduct some medical reviews and tests to know if you are a right candidate for the treatment. Your doctor will:

Review your medical history

Your medical history will be reviewed by your doctor and you will be asked some questions about any present and past medical conditions that you may have. Inform your doctor if you are currently on any medications or have recently taken any medications. Inform your doctor if you have had a cosmetic procedure before or recently used any cosmetic cream.

Conduct a physical exam

Your doctor will also perform a physical examination of your skin and the treatment area to know the most appropriate chemical peel treatment for you.

Preparations for a chemical peel

When preparing for a chemical peel, there are some vital things that should be done to reduce the risks of complications.

These include:

Taking antiviral medications

If you have a history of herpes infections, your doctor may prescribe antiviral medications to help prevent viral infection.

Use a retinoid cream

Your doctor might recommend using a retinoid cream to speed up the healing process.

Use a bleaching agent

Your doctor may recommend using a bleaching agent and a retinoid cream before or after your treatment to prevent darkening of your skin.

Avoid unprotected exposure to sunlight

Avoid unprotected exposure to sunlight by using sunscreen at least four weeks before your treatment to prevent irregular pigmentation in the treatment area. 

Avoid using certain cosmetic and hair removal products

Avoid the use of certain cosmetic and hair removal products including bleaching products, massages, and facial scrubs for a week before the treatment.

Chemical peel procedures

Chemical Peels: Procedure, Benefits, and Cost

The three chemical peel procedures include:

Light chemical peel procedure

During a light chemical peel, your hair and eyes will first be protected using chemical splash goggles. Your doctor will then apply a chemical solution to your skin using a brush, cotton ball, gauze, or sponge. The chemical solution used contains glycolic acid or salicylic acid. After the chemical is applied to your skin, your skin will begin to whiten. You may feel mild stinging from the effect of the chemical. A neutralizing solution may be applied or your skin may be cleaned to remove the chemical solution from your skin.

If your skin becomes reddish, dry, and mildly irritated, your doctor may apply a protective ointment, such as petroleum jelly, to soothe the skin.

Medium chemical peel procedure

During a medium chemical peel, your doctor will apply a chemical solution that contains trichloroacetic acid and glycolic acid on your skin using a cotton-tipped applicator or gauze.

The treated skin will begin to whiten after the chemical solution is applied to your skin. Cool compresses will then be applied to the treatment area to soothe the treated skin.

You may feel a stinging and burning sensation and the treated skin area will become reddish, tight and swollen. A protective ointment may be applied to soothe the treatment area. Ice may also be applied to soothe the treatment area.

If you feel increased pain, taking over-the-counter pain-relieving medication, such as ibuprofen and naproxen sodium can help to reduce pain or any discomfort.

Deep chemical peel

Deep chemical peel is deep into the skin and very critical. You will be given intravenous (IV) fluids before the treatment begins. Your doctor will also monitor your heart rate very closely. A cotton-tipped applicator will be used to apply carbolic acid to your skin. Your skin will begin to turn white or gray after the carbolic acid is applied.

You will experience severe redness and swelling and will also feel a burning and throbbing sensation. Your doctor may prescribe pain-relieving medication such as ibuprofen or naproxen sodium to reduce the pain.

After the procedure

Make arrangements for transport back home after the treatment. This is because you may not be able to drive yourself back home after the treatment.

You will begin to see results when the skin heals. The results from a light chemical peel can help improve the texture, tone of your skin, and reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.

It takes about one to seven days after a light chemical peel for the treated area to heal. The new skin might temporarily be lighter or darker than normal when it starts to heal.

The treated skin will begin to form a crust after a medium chemical peel and might darken or develop brown blotches after a few days. It takes about seven to fourteen days for the treated area to heal after a medium chemical peel.

New skin will grow in the treated areas within about two weeks after a deep chemical peel. The treated skin might become lighter or darker than normal, cysts or white spots might appear for several weeks and redness might last for months until the treated area is completely healed.

Avoid exposure to direct sunlight until the treated area is completely covered with new skin. You will notice smoother skin after a chemical peel treatment.

Things to do and avoid after a chemical peel

Benefits of chemical peel

Chemical Peels: Procedure, Benefits, and Cost

Chemical peel provides many benefits which include:

Treatment of acne

Chemical peel is an effective treatment for acne. A chemical peel exfoliates deeper and cleanses your skin more thoroughly. Chemical peels reveal a new layer of skin that is without acne.

Eliminates wrinkles and fine lines

A chemical peel completely removes wrinkles and fine lines. It can permanently remove the most serious wrinkles and fine lines.

Lifts and smooth skin

A chemical peel can be a good treatment for skin lifting and skin smoothing. It is used to lift the top layers of the skin to allow the growth of a smoother skin.

Reduce pores

Chemical peels can help reduce or eliminate pores from the skin.

Removes discoloration

Chemical peels can be used to remove discoloration, sunspots, and other hyperpigmentation of the skin. When the top layers of the skin are removed, it reveals a spotless, smooth, and young-looking skin.

Cost of chemical peel treatment

The cost of a chemical peel varies depending on the type of treatment performed, medications used, and care provided during the treatment. The cost of light and medium chemical peel ranges from $100 to $1,000, while a deep chemical peel can cost as high as $3,000 or more.

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