Chemical peels are cosmetic procedures that use various chemical solutions to exfoliate your skin. Chemical peels are commonly done on your face, neck, and hands. They work by removing and shedding the outer layer of skin, leaving behind new and regenerated skin which appears smoother and more youthful.
If you're looking to diminish signs of aging and brighten your complexion, a chemical peel may be right for you.
What are Chemical Peels Used For?
Chemical peels are currently the third most commonly performed cosmetic treatment in the United States. Chemical peels can be done for a variety of different cosmetic reasons.
Chemical peels are commonly used for:
- Acne scars
- Age spots, sun spots, or liver spots
- Discoloration including hyperpigmentation, melasma
- Fine lines and wrinkles
Some dermatologists even use chemical peels to treat precancerous skin growths called actinic keratoses.
The Different Types of Chemical Peels
There are three basic types of chemical peels:
- Light or Superficial Chemical Peels
Mild acids such as alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) are used for light chemical peels. These mild acids penetrate only the outer layer of the skin, causing a superficial peel. It can be used to treat fine wrinkling, acne, and uneven skin tones and provides the most modest results. Because of the superficial nature of these peels, there is little to no downtime associated with the procedure. Patients usually note some redness and scaling after the procedure which resolves in 1-7 days.
- Medium Chemical Peels
The chemical agents used in medium chemical peels can penetrate deeper, reaching both the outer and middle layers of skin. As a result, medium chemical peels require a more extended period of healing time and post-peel care. Medium peels can be used to improve skin discoloration, age spots, or wrinkles. It can also be used to smooth out rough skin and treat precancerous growths.
- Deep Chemical Peels
Deep chemical peels make use of stronger chemical agents such as trichloroacetic acid (TCA) and phenol. These chemical agents can penetrate the middle layer of the skin. Deep chemical peels can be used to treat moderate wrinkles, age spots, skin discoloration, and acne scars. Deep peels provide the most dramatic results but require the longest healing time and the most involved post-peel care. Treated areas will need to be bandaged and can take 2-3 weeks to heal.