A chemical peel may be used to treat a variety of complaints, including blackheads or whiteheads, sun damage, fine lines or wrinkling, discolouration or pigmentation, ingrown hairs, acne, dry or scaly skin, and large pores. It involves the application of a solution to lift away the outermost layers to reveal fresh new cells beneath.
Different kinds of chemical peels available at our Melbourne clinic
There are quite a few substances that we use as chemical peels because of their varying properties.
Alpha hydroxy acid (AHA), ‘lunchtime’ peel
Glycolic acid and AHA are considered to be the gentlest type of chemical peel. This resurfacing can remove only the very top layer, more like an exfoliant, with no real peeling involved at all. These chemical peels stimulate and are quite hydrating. Expect some redness for about half an hour post-peel. This is the kind of peel you might get every week or fortnight to keep you looking good.
AHA chemical peels are good for treating discolouration and texture issues.
Prescription-only chemical peels
A prescription medicine chemical peel goes a step further than the AHA peel, also providing greater rejuvenation. Some flaking and a mild redness may stick around for several days after treatment. Prescription medicine-based procedures can be done fortnightly.
Glycolic or tricholoroacetic acid
This type of peel is used to remove the outer and middle layers, removing damaged cells. This removes age spots, fine lines, wrinkles, freckles, and discolouration. Texture can also be improved, along with the removal of some precancerous growths.
PCA chemical peel treatment
A PCA treatment is also a bleach (like hydroquinone or resorcinol), and is most suitable for pigmentation issues. Pigmentation may arise from sun damage, inflammation, or scars. Post-PCA effects are flaking and redness. PCA procedures can be done every 10 days to two weeks. Several sessions are required to fade pigment.
Jessner chemical peel
A Jessner is a mixture of lactic and salicylic acid, generally used for acne, scarring, and mild sun damage. The Jessner is a deeper peel than any of the others listed so far, with more redness post-treatment. This treatment can be done every fortnight until results are seen.
Why do we use chemical peels?
- Acne scarring
- Sun damage
- Sagging skin
- Refreshing your complexion
About chemical peels
At our Armadale clinic, peels are used as a tool to improve the skin’s appearance. This might be on the neck, face, or hands. A chemical peel is a substance that has an exfoliant action and causes tissue to shed a layer or two, revealing new, fresh cells underneath. The depth of the peel depends on the substance used.
Is there anything that should happen prior to a peel?
Your dermatologist will do a thorough analysis of your skin to see exactly what it would benefit from. A peel is not always appropriate.
People who are not good candidates for this sort of resurfacing include those with infectious diseases, cuts or damage, sunburn, or active Herpes simplex 1 sores (cold sores). If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, having taken some medication for acne in the previous six months, have psoriasis, eczema, dermatitis or rosacea, or have used other prescription peel/skincare products that contain specific agents, a chemical peel may have to wait.
Darker tones require different substances than pale skin for best results, but anyone can get a peel (so don’t let anyone tell you otherwise) no matter their skin tone. You should avoid experienced practitioners at all costs, particularly if you have risky skin.
Possible risks and side-effects of chemical peels
There is some risk of a temporary or longer-lasting pigmentation problem, which seems to occur more in women on the oral contraceptive pill, those who become pregnant after peels, or those with a history of pigmentation issues. This can be mitigated and your dermatologist will be able to help you establish the risks of this. Chemical peels are so good for pigmentation, it should be discussed and perhaps a trial.
If a peel is poorly managed or your skin is scar-prone, scarring can result, which is why it’s critical to use a trusted dermatologist with a lot of experience in these procedures. Don’t let an amateur near your face. Cold sores may become more active for a period after a chemical peel, since the immune system is intrinsically involved in any trauma to the skin.
Why we’re choosing peels more often than ever – the secret to a flawless complexion
Chemical peels were at one point in history the most-performed cosmetic procedure. They fell out of fashion, but now are back in as a relatively quick way to get a beautiful complexion without spending a fortune. In some cases, they are better than other options, like laser.
Lasers became the ‘new’ way to do resurfacing, but they’re expensive – as soon as your dermatologist brings out the laser, the price goes up. The benefits of chemical peels are numerous, since the top layer of skin is removed, taking with it slight scarring, pigmentation and fine lines. This works on all types and tones. Yes, the recovery time is longer than with lasers, but the first treatment provides excellent results compared to others’ first times.
This isn’t to say peels are replacing lasers; just that the humble chemical peel is a useful way to keep skin beautiful.
New versions of the chemical peel substances are improvements too – glycolic acid peels, for example, have been vastly improved since the days that they would leave you raw and in pain. Now, peels can cause changes, instead of just peeling it off, including promoting collagen production and reducing lines or actually sticking around in your pores to keep acne at bay.
The minute you take off the top layers, the bottom starts performing better. The risks are also low – we’ve been doing chemical peels for such a long time now, we’re pretty good at them. New ingredients make the process safer than ever, with a vast array of options now for darker skin tones too.
Visit us at our Melbourne clinic for your facial peels. We’re very good at them.
*Results may vary from person to person
The most important factor after a chemical peel is to avoid the sun, and use a broad-spectrum sunscreen all the time. New skin is so delicate, and UV rays will cause damage. Problems are likely to recur if you don’t adequately protect your new skin from the sun.
Avoid all skin irritants too, the way you would protect a baby’s skin. Your doctor will discuss your regime with you at your appointment.
Smoking is not ideal.
Does a chemical peel hurt?
Chemical peels tend to sting a bit, but aren’t painful. The gentlest types can also cause stinging and redness, but your skin adjusts. You may feel a burning feeling that is replaced by stinging, for about 10 minutes. Deeper peels may require some pain relief.
Stronger peels result in more discomfort than gentler types, with irritation and redness afterwards. Some special creams and gels can reduce this irritation.
What to expect after a peel
Each peel is different, but generally you can expect a sunburn-type response to a chemical treatment. Mild procedures can continue after healing, with medium-depth peels possibly resulting in blisters. These blisters may burst, causing crusting and shedding. Medium-depth treatments shouldn’t be repeated too often; once every six months to a year is suitable.
Bandages may be necessary to protect your healing cells, but your dermatologist will advise.
TCA chemical peels
A TCA peel is a medium-strength procedure that provides a deeper effect and greater rejuvenation than other chemical peels. It has a resurfacing action, and is useful for heavy pigment, or in those with extensive sun-damage or wrinkles.
Recovery is longer, with more profound results. Your tissue will scab, shed, then heal, typically over a two week period. The new cells underneath will be fresh and pink-looking, with another few weeks for the skin to return to normal.
These deep procedures can remove damaged cells, taking with them moderate lines, age spots, freckles and shallow scars. The skin will look very different after these treatments, but usually this is just one peel at a time as a once-off treatment.