Our skin is exposed to many different variables including the sun, air pollution, free radicals, and a plethora of surfaces, including cushions and pillows. On top of this unrelenting series of exposures, our skin naturally changes as we age. The top layer of our skin can become rough, hyperpigmented, dry, loose, or create fine lines and wrinkles. 

But did you know that a brand-new layer of rejuvenated skin lies beneath the surface of your skin? You may have encountered this after a bad sunburn when your skin peels off the damaged layer. What if you could get rid of a damaged layer of skin in a safe and healthy manner? You know, without the sunburn.

You can with a facial chemical peel. Do not let the name fool you. It is not scary, painful, or dangerous. 

What is a Chemical Peel?

A chemical peel is a technique used to improve and smooth the texture of the skin. It is a skin-resurfacing procedure in which a chemical solution made up of acids (often naturally occurring) is applied to the skin to remove the top layers. These layers gradually peel off revealing brighter more hydrated skin underneath. A facial chemical peel also aids in the improvement of fine lines, texture, age spots as well as pigmented scars.

Peeling varies from patient to patient, as well as what type of peel is used. Generally peeling will begin about 2-3 days after you have had the treatment and can last for a week or more. Peeling can range from a slightly dusty, dehydrated look to the skin, to a more advanced peeling like after a sunburn. The amount of peeling is not indicative of how effective your treatment will be. 

Chemical peels are usually available in three different potency levels. There are superficial peels, medium-depth peels, and deep peels. Each different type uses a different chemical solution. A light chemical peel requires little to no downtime for recovery. However, a medium or deep chemical peel may require two to three weeks of recovery. 

Your practitioner will help you determine which solution is best for your skincare goals. Chemical peels can also be used to treat areas such as the neck, chest, and hands. 

Peels are incredibly safe and gentle enough for those with sensitive skin. In fact, chemical peels are more favorable than mechanical exfoliators. 

What is the Best Chemical Peel for Me?

Superficial chemical peels are for patients who only have skin issues on the top layer of the skin, also called the epidermis. The skin recovers quickly after a superficial peel because the treatment does not go beneath the skin’s outer layer. 

A superficial peel is a gentle and effective option to revitalize the skin and is the perfect introduction to chemical peels for the face. This peel will help improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, minimize the look of dilated pores, treat hyperpigmentation, sun damage, acne, and scarring. A series of three treatments is ideal to start caring for the health of your skin alongside professional products at home to intensify and sustain your results. 

Patients may be able to have superficial peels every 2-5 weeks. 

Medium-depth peels penetrate the middle and outer layer of the skin. These peels also treat fine lines, wrinkles, sun-damaged skin, and minimize the look of dilated pores. However, this next-level treatment can also treat minor scars. The average medium-depth peel takes about 7-14 days to heal. A series of three treatments is recommended, along with professional home care products, to deliver the most effective results. 

Deep peels penetrate the middle layer of the skin. These peels are not commonly recommended by most dermatologists because there are other, less invasive treatments available. However, a deep chemical peel is for someone who may have moderate to severe sun damage, moderate to severe wrinkles, or moderate to severe hyperpigmentation. These peels take 14-21 days to heal and do come with a short recovery period with antiviral medication and a special skin cleansing formula. 

Chemical peels use different types of acid to create natural results. These include phenol, which is used in deep peels, trichloroacetic acid used in medium or deep peels, beta-hydroxy acids (like salicylic acid) for acne-prone skin, or alpha-hydroxy acids. 

How Do I Prepare for A Facial Chemical Peel?

To ensure the best results, there are a few things you will need to do before getting a chemical peel. Be sure you discuss your health history with your practitioner during your comprehensive consultation. This includes any photosensitivity, scars, skin conditions, pregnancy status, smoking status, and estimated amount of daily sun exposure. This is very important as certain health conditions may cause severe side effects. 

You can expect your practitioner to examine your skin for thickness and pre-peel condition. This examination will help refine your treatment goals. About two weeks prior to your treatment, you’ll be asked to prime your skin. This includes limiting sun exposure, applying sunscreen with an SPF of 30+ daily, and using any creams or lotions as directed. You will also want to avoid waxing or dermabrasion of your face. 

What to Expect During a Facial Chemical Peel

A facial chemical peel (at least a superficial or medium peel) is meant to be a comfortable and relaxing experience. When you arrive for treatment, you will be ushered into a luxurious treatment room. After taking a seat, you will be asked to pull your hair back from your face and close your eyes. If you are receiving a medium or deep peel, your practitioner may administer a topical anesthetic for maximum comfort. 

Using a cotton ball, brush, or gauze, your practitioner will apply an exfoliant acid to the thicker parts of your facial skin like the chin, cheeks, and nose. Then he or she will apply the acid to the skin around your eyes and mouth. The treatment area will whiten, and you may feel a slight sting or tingle. A chemical peel treatment takes between 30 and 90 minutes to complete

After the treatment has run its course, your practitioner will apply a neutralizing solution to your skin, though sometimes the chemical peel is simply removed or is self-neutralizing. 

Side Effects of Chemical Peels

While chemical peels are deemed very safe and have been around for many years, there are some risks and side effects that are possible. Most patients report temporary side effects including redness, stinging, burning, slight swelling, or skin dryness. 

Patients with a history of cold sores may experience flareups after a deep chemical peel, be sure to mention this to your practitioner so they can provide a prescription if appropriate. 

More serious side effects include scarring, infections, heart liver, or kidney damage due to the phenol used in deep peels, or darkening or lightening of the skin. But these side effects are rare. Before receiving a chemical peel, be sure to discuss your comprehensive health history with your practitioner.

Aftercare for Chemical Peels

After receiving your chemical peel, you will need to avoid sun exposure for a considerable amount of time. Your practitioner may prescribe or recommend light moisturizers to aid in the peeling process. For light chemical peels, recovery time is about four to seven days. For medium chemical peels, recovery is about five to seven days, but you may experience redness for a few months. When it comes to deep chemical peels, you will experience swelling and redness with burning or throbbing sensations, however, your practitioner will provide you with very specific instructions on how to wash your face, moisturize, and treat your skin and any pain you experience. 

After the first couple of days, you’ll notice a brighter complexion and better texture. Once fully healed, you can expect a smooth, youthful, and radiant glow as your new skin shines through. Over time you will notice a reduction of fine lines and wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, decreased pore size, and a fading of acne scars. You can also expect an even skin tone.

The Bottom Line

Medical grade chemical peels are a very safe and effective skin treatment option that literally resurfaces the top layer of your skin. You can experience the rejuvenated glow of fresh skin after healing from a facial chemical peel. Before undergoing treatment, it is important to talk to your practitioner about your health history and overall skincare goals. Each type of chemical peel varies in recovery time and experience. For a first-time chemical peel, it is recommended you try a superficial peel. 

If you have questions, consider booking a consultation with First Impressions Rejuvenation Clinic. The knowledgeable and compassionate practitioners are always eager to answer any and all questions you may have as well as walk you through the treatment process step by step. First Impressions Rejuvenation Clinic offers various types of medical-grade chemical peels. We offer many professional medical-grade, superficial peels that are gentle and effective options to revitalize the skin, the “Jessner Peel”, a professional medium-depth chemical peel, and many other options individualized to your underlying concerns and treatment goals. 

First Impressions Rejuvenation Clinic also offers a whole host of professional products to assist you during your healing journey. 

Taking care of your skin is one solid step to a comprehensive self-care routine. You deserve to feel beautiful every time you look in the mirror. Remember, you are worth it!


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