A chemical peel is an aesthetic treatment designed to improve the appearance of the skin on the face, neck, décolleté or hands. Depending on the treatment, a peel will often be classified as light, medium, or deep. This refers to how deep the peel penetrates in the layers of skin. The procedure uses a chemical solution which is applied to the skin and will cause exfoliation and eventually peeling over the days to follow.
- Lighten or eliminate dark spots, discoloration.
- Smooth fine lines & wrinkles on the skin’s surface.
- Improve acne or milder scars.
- Improve skin tone, texture and brighten the complexion.
Below we describe the three basic types of chemical peels:
- Superficial or light peel: Mild acid (such as alpha hydroxy) or enzymes are used to penetrate only the outer layer of skin to gently exfoliate it. The treatment is used to improve the appearance of mild skin discoloration and smooth skin texture, as well as to refresh the skin on the face, neck, chest or hands. There is typically no physical “peeling” or downtime with peels in this category.
- Medium peel: Uses a slightly stronger blend of acids which penetrates the outer and middle layers of skin to eliminate damaged skin cells. The treatment addresses age spots, fine lines, wrinkles, acne and skin discoloration. You can typically expect 3-5 days of peeling.
- Deep peel: Utilizes the strongest concentrations of acids (Trichloroacetic acid or phenol) which is applied to penetrate more deeply into the middle layer of skin to remove damaged skin cells. The treatment targets moderate lines and wrinkles, dark spots, acne, and mild scaring. This peel provides the greatest improvement in skin appearance and has the most amount of down time needed for recovery. You can typically 5-10 days of peeling depending on the depth of the peel.
- After the initial healing period from a chemical peel, you will see some early improvements such as tighter-feeling skin, even skin tone and a brighter complexion. With the lighter-medium peels, repeat treatments periodically are often recommended for optimal outcomes.
Laser: Ablative or Non-Ablative
There are hundreds of different technologies currently available to address the visible signs of skin aging. One such technology is the Laser, which stands for “Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation.” Lasers use highly concentrated beams of light energy, and when used for resurfacing, remove the outer layer of skin, called the epidermis. Simultaneously, the laser energy heats the underlying skin called the dermis, and together this procedure will improve the skin’s overall tone and texture; reducing wrinkles, dark spots, blemishes and even some scars.
- Reduce or minimize lines or wrinkles.
- Reduce appearance of brown spots, redness or discoloration.
- Even out skin tone
- Skin tightening
- Stimulate collagen production
- Minimize acne or surgical scars
Ablative Lasers: Ablative lasers remove outer layers of skin, called the epidermis, and encourage new skin to regenerate in its place. How deep the laser penetrates depends on the wavelength of the light. Fractionated ablative lasers are being used more and more because they break up the laser energy into thousands of tiny beams to treat only a small fraction of the skin in the area, which reduces downtime by not completely removing the outer layers of the skin. The improvements from laser resurfacing are long-lasting and dramatic, but they can appear gradually over time as healing and new collagen regeneration take place. It can take many months before you see optimal results from the procedure. There is typically some downtime with these procedures that can range from 3-10 days depending on the type of procedure performed.
Non-ablative skin rejuvenation uses a laser to improve the appearance of wrinkles, brown spots and minimal or superficial scars by creating heat in the skin without injuring the top layer of the skin. The heat generated by the laser promotes collagen production which causes the skin to contract and tighten for a younger and healthier appearance. Non-ablative lasers can also be fractionated, so they deliver heat into the skin through thousands of tiny, deep columns known as microthermal treatment zones with normal untreated skin in the surrounding areas. The fractional approach allows the skin to heal much faster versus treating the entire surface of the skin. This approach reduces the recovery time and reduces the number of complications that can occur. Often times multiple sessions are required for optimal results and there is typically no downtime with non-ablative laser procedures. The skin may appear pink and have a sand-paper type texture for a few days.