Chemical Peel

The chemical peel is a process that uses a chemical solution to remove the damaged outer layers of skin. A beneficial procedure for many with blemishes and uneven pigmentation, a chemical peel serves to smooth and rejuvenate facial skin. There are three main chemicals used for this purpose, phenol, Alphahydroxy acids (AHAs) and trichloroacetic acid (TCA). The exact formula may be altered to meet the needs of each individual patient. Although chemical peel is often performed in line with a facelift, this procedure does not prevent the ageing process and cannot be used in place of surgical procedures.

The impetus behind the chemical peel is largely cosmetic although chemical peel may also be used to eradicate pre-cancerous skin growths and reduce facial acne scars. In certain circumstances, the procedure may be covered by health insurance, although it is recommended that you check your insurance policy before initiating any treatment. Make certain you tell your doctor if you suffer from cold sores.

Specifics of Treatment

AHAs, such as glycolic, lactic, and fruit acids are the weakest of the peel formulas used and produce lighter peels. These peels can produce a smoother, rejuvenated skin for those adverse to trying heavier peels. AHA peels can be used to treat fine wrinkles, patches of dryness and uneven pigmentation.

To obtain the best results, varying concentrations of an AHA can be applied weekly or as necessary. Your specialist will access this and make a decision during the consultation process.

An Alphahydroxy acid, such as glycolic acid, can also be mixed with a facial wash or cream in lesser concentrations as part of a daily skin-care regime to improve the skin's texture.

Trichloroacetic acid (TCA) is most commonly used for medium-depth peeling and can be used in various concentrations. Problems commonly treated by TCA range from fine surface wrinkles to pigmentation problems, and the results are usually less drastic than with phenol peels. In fact, several TCA peels may be needed to achieve the desired result. Recovery time from a TCA peel is shorter than with a phenol peel.

Phenol, the strongest of the chemical solutions used, produces a deep peel and is used to treat patients with deep facial wrinkles or areas of pre-cancerous or sun damaged skin. As a result of its strength, phenol sometimes lightens the pigment of the treated skin hence skin pigmentation may be a determining factor as to the appropriateness of phenol peel. Phenol is normally only used on the face as it can result in scarring if it is applied elsewhere and has more complications that other forms of peeling.

Chemical Peel Formula Overview

Alphahydroxy acids (AHAs)

  • Smooth dry and rough skin
  • Improve texture of skin damaged by over exposure to sunlight
  • Can be used to treat pigmentation problems
  • Controls acne
  • Can be used as pre-treatment for TCA
  • A number of peel treatments may be necessary
  • Sunblock use is recommended

Trichloroacetic acid (TCA)

  • Smooth out shallow surface wrinkles
  • Eradicate cosmetic blemishes
  • Correct pigmentation problems
  • Can be used on the face and other areas of the body
  • Short treatment time: 10-15 minutes
  • Recovery time is usually quicker than with phenol peels
  • Scarring is possible

Phenol

  • Corrects pigmentation problems
  • Fills out deep wrinkles
  • Removes pre-cancerous growths
  • Facial use only
  • Not suitable for darker-skinned patients
  • Full-face treatment may take up to one hour or more
  • Recovery may be slow, over the course of several months
  • Can permanently remove facial freckles
  • Scarring is possible

Risks Involved

As with all procedures, chemical peels carry some risks. Chemical peel is normally a safe procedure when performed by a fully qualified, experienced medical professional. However, whilst infrequent, some unpredictability and risks of scarring or infection are possible.

It is also possible with phenol to experience some undesirable cosmetic results, such as uncontrolled pigmentation changes. Certain modified peels are weaker and may be preferable in certain circumstances.

It is critical that you find a physician with adequate training and experience in chemical peel and skin resurfacing. Your plastic surgeon may propose a choice of peel techniques or suggest a combination to produce the best results for you.

During your initial consultation process, it is beneficial to discuss your expectations with your physician, asking any questions or expressing any concerns you may have about the procedure, its aim or the risks involved. Your plastic surgeon will explain the procedure in depth, covering the risks and benefits of the treament, the recovery period and post- treatment care.

Please also remember chemical peel treatments are usually not covered by health insurance unless they are performed for medically related problems.

By nature, all medical procedures carry an element of risk. Before embarking on any medical procedure, it is advisable to consult fully with the McLean Academy so that our qualified staff can suitably discuss any risk or concerns that your procedure may pose. Chemical Peel is a non surgical procedure with minimal risks.

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Contact Information

The McLean Academy

Neil R. McLean ( MD FRCS )

Telephone: 0191 284 3719

Email: reception@mcleanacademy.com

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