There are three common variations of chemical peels, classified as:
These classifications refer to the depth of the skin penetration caused by the exfoliating agent. Superficial peels treat the outer layer of the skin, called the epidermis, and mildly stimulate collagen formation in the uppermost part of the dermis.
Commonly used peeling agents are Alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) and Beta Hydroxy acids. They provide significant benefits by helping smooth rough, dry skin, improve the texture of sun-damaged skin, and even-out skin tone. Treatment recovery is rapid usually consisting of minor flaking and mild redness for several days. A series of four to six treatments is generally required to obtain the best results.
Results of an AHA peel are temporary and periodic treatments are recommended to maintain the results.
AHAs are often referred to as fruit acids. They include glycolic acid (from sugar cane), lactic acid (from sour milk), citric acid (from citrus fruits) and tartaric acid (from fermented grapes). Glycolic acid is most frequently used for superficial peels and in cosmetic formulations. When used as a peel, the pH or measure of acidity is low (more acidic) and thus more irritating.
Products for home use have been partially neutralized (resulting in a pH closer to that of the normal skin surface, 4.2—5.6) and are less irritating.
Medium peels often contain trichloroacetic acid (TCA) (35%), although lower percentages can be used for superficial peels and higher percentages (50-60%) can produce a deep peel. The best candidate for medium peels is an individual with fair skin. It is sometimes combined with other treatments such as tretinoin cream, Jessner’s solution (containing lactic acid, salicylic acid and resorcinol), or Microdermabrasion, to intensify the results.
TCA treats the epidermis and upper dermis and causes the upper layers of skin to peel within 5 to 7 days. A mild pain medication may be used to ease the stinging that occurs with this type of peel. Immediately after the treatment a white frost forms and begins temporarily turning red.
There is some recovery (down) time. It is typically three to five days, but it’s time well spent since milder peels simply cannot deliver the same results.
Medium peels can be used to treat a number of skin conditions, but they are most often used to treat the effects of sun damage. They also diminish the appearance of blotchy skin by reducing the color contrast of surrounding skin. Deep wrinkles are less responsive and require additional treatments. Frequently a series of medium peels is required to achieve the desired result.
It’s important to take pretreatment with anti-viral medicine if you have a tendency for cold sores. It’s also extremely important to protect your treated skin from sun exposure by using a transparent zinc oxide sun-blocker before leaving going outdoors.
Please note: Deep peels are not performed in this office.
To varying degrees, medium peels cause remodeling of the collagen in the dermis and an increase in the elastic fibers. Collagen and elastin (an elastic fiber) are the main structural proteins in the dermis. With aging, the dermal collagen and elastin content decreases as the skin becomes thinner. This is accelerated by sun exposure and is the major factor associated with wrinkling.
If you’d like to find out what this treatment can offer you, please contact us at our Burlington, Massachusetts office (781.272.7022) for a consultation appointment.