Dr. Robert L. Shenker and Dr. Stephanie Ma are Royal College-certified specialists at The Cosmetic Surgery Clinic in Kitchener-Waterloo. The team of surgeons serves patients from Guelph, Cambridge, and London, Ontario, specializing in cosmetic and reconstructive breast surgery, surgical and non-surgical facial rejuvenation, and body contouring procedures.
A chemical peel is a skin-resurfacing procedure that uses a solution of various chemicals that are applied to the skin. (2) Chemical peel solutions cause the top layer of skin to peel off in order to hopefully smooth the surface of the skin and provide other benefits like fading fine lines and scars. Most chemical peels have a gel-like consistency and are applied to the face, though sometimes peels are used on other parts of the body, such as the neck, hands or chest.
Your cosmetic dermatologist will use a specific formula for your chemical peel based on the characteristics of your skin and your desired result. Light chemical peels are used to treat fine wrinkling, areas of dryness, uneven pigmentation, and acne. The solution used for light chemical peels is usually comprised of alphahydroxy acids (AHAs), such as glycolic, lactic, salicylic, or fruit acids. Light chemical peels are ideal for people who want the benefits of a facial peel but do not wish to spend the time required to recover from a deeper peel.
After being applied to the skin, chemical peels intentionally make the skin blister and then peel, although chemical peels are now considered safer than in years past and are less likely to leave skin feeling “raw.” (3) The purpose of peels is to remove dull surface skin cells, which typically leads to an improvement in fine lines, acne, discoloration and more.
Some people with a particular type of skin can face issues immediately after taking a Chemical Peels treatment for their skin. Some of them can even see some swelling and breaking of the skin surface that can take a few days to recover fully. Similarly, there are instances of alteration in the colour of the skin after the peel withers off. There have also been reports of scarring on the skin surface following a Chemical Peels treatment. It must, however, be added here that almost all these after effects are of temporary nature and they are generally treated and rectified without causing any permanent damage.
The benefits and drawbacks of laser skin resurfacing vs. chemical peels are slightly more difficult to ascertain, due to the relatively new nature of the laser resurfacing procedure. However, many doctors claim that the improvement to patients' skin after laser skin resurfacing is essentially equivalent to that seen with chemical peels and microdermabrasion. Lasers do allow doctors to target specific flaws and imperfections with much more precision than chemical peels.
Deep chemical peels involve a longer procedure and longer recovery time that lasts up to several months in some cases. Patients who want to correct blotches caused by sun exposure or age, minimize coarse wrinkles, or remove a pre-cancerous growth may benefit from a deep peel. There are certain factors which must be taken into consideration when contemplating a deep chemical peel. Darker-skinned patients and individuals with heart problems are not ideal candidates. Potential chemical peel candidates should be aware that the treatment may take an hour or more, and may require sedation. Anyone who decides on this procedure should be prepared for a long, slow recovery period, and should wear sunscreen whenever exposed to sun.