Believe it or not, the skin we had a month ago is not the same as it is today. Everyday thousands of skin cells die, then flake and shed. New skin cells eventually replace the dead skin cells. The new skin cells travel from the lowest layer of the epidermis (which is the outer layer of cells that make up the skin) to the top layer and then shed off the skin. This keeps dead skin cells from building up on the skin’s surface. The process is known as skin cell renewal factor or skin cell turnover rate. As we age, our skin cell turnover rate decelerates. Accordingly, our complexion will change and become duller. Below illustrates the change in skin cell turnover rate according to age group:
- Infants: Approximately 14 days
- Adolescents: Approximately 21 – 28 days
- Middle Age: Approximately 28 – 42 days
- 50s & Up: Approximately 42 – 84 days
A chemical peel helps reaccelerate the skin cell turnover rate by removing dead skin cells and stimulating the production of new skin cells. As a result, you are left with healthier, smoother and more youthful skin.
What Is A Chemical Peel & Why Get It Done?
Chemical peel is a facial and/or body outpatient procedure for improving and smoothing out the texture of your skin.
Chemical peels can effectively improve a wide variety of skin conditions including:
- Fine lines & wrinkles
- Uneven pigmentation & other pigmentation issues (i.e. sun-damage, age spots, flecks and dark patches)
- Mild & shallow scars including acne scars
- Certain acne conditions (not all acne can be treated with chemical peels)
OR it can be used to improve the overall look and feel of your skin. A chemical peel is not a substitute for a face-lift, as it cannot eliminate excessive or sagging skin.
Before a chemical peel is preformed your skin is cleaned thoroughly by a professional who will then apply a chemical solution —such as glycolic acid, salicylic acid, lactic acid, carbolic acid, TCA or trichoroacetic acid—onto the area you wish to treat. Once the chemical is applied it will remove and peel the outer layer of the skin, also known as the epidermis. Production of new skin cells will follow.
What To Expect During & After A Chemical Peel
During a chemical peel, most patients experience a warm to hot sensation which can last anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes. A stinging sensation will follow. Placing a cold compress gently on the area treated will ease the stinging. For stronger/deeper chemical peels, anesthesia may be required while the chemical peel is being performed.
What you experience after the procedure will depend on the type of chemical peel you received. The reactions to the procedure are similar to a sunburn. For mild and light chemical peels, you will experience some redness then scaling within a few days, about 3 to 7 days. Medium and deep chemical peels will result in swelling and blistering that will eventually break open forming a crust and turn brown, which will then peel. This process will take 7 to 14 days. The deeper and stronger the chemical peel, the longer your recovery period will be.
In the aftermath of a deep chemical peel, bandages and pain medications may be required. Ointments and creams may be applied to uphold the skin’s moisture. Cosmetics may be applied approximately 2 weeks post-procedure. You will need to avoid sun exposure for several months after the chemical peel, as your new skin will be sensitive and vulnerable to the sun’s harmful rays. Always apply a wide spectrum (UVA & UVB blocking) sunblock of at least 30 or higher 20 to 30 minutes before going outside. For a selection of sun protectants that best suit your skin type click here.
Before purchasing a chemical peel, discuss your skin condition(s) and expectations with the physician to ensure you receive the best results. Also, inform the physician of any history you have concerning scarring, cold sores and/or facial X-rays.
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