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Chemical Peels


A chemical peel is the application of an acid to the skin to achieve a controlled burn to the top layers of skin. Chemical peels are used to remove:

  • fine lines and wrinkles, especially around the mouth

  • small scars
  • discolorations such as freckles or liver spots
  • areas of sun damaged skin and spots of precancerous keratoses
Peels can be applied to the whole face or to an isolated area, such as the upper lip. A full-face peel is usually done as a separate procedure before or after a face lift or eyelid surgery. However, if only a small area is being treated, the peel may be done at the same time as the surgical procedure. Chemical peels cannot be done around the eyes.

The type and concentration of acid controls the depth of the burn used to achieve superficial, medium, and deep peels.

Superficial peels are produced using alphahydroxy acids (AHA) (glycolic, lactic, and fruit acids). AHA peels are used to treat rough, dry skin and improve texture. These acids can be mixed with a bleaching agent to correct uneven pigmentation.

Medium peels are most often done using trichloroacetic acid (TCA). TCA peels are used to treat fine wrinkles and superficial blemishes.

Deep peels are produced using carbolic acid (phenol). It is used to treat coarse wrinkles, blotches caused by sun, birth-control pills, or aging, and precancerous growths. Phenol is almost always used only on the face. It may cause scarring on the neck or other areas of the body.

It is customary to return home with supervision after a chemical peel, but in some cases a day or two in an outpatient care facility may be required. The skin is not bandaged in most cases.

Fine lines and wrinkles are caused by the deterioration of the connective fibers (collagen and elastin) in the skin. Chemical peels force the growth of new tissue in which fibers are more plentiful and better organized. Although it may take several months for skin to recover from a deep chemical peel, the end result is skin of better tone and more youthful appearance.





Disclaimer: this website is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for a professional medical diagnosis, opinion or suggested course of treatment. Please see your health care professional for a professional medical opinion, and refer to our Disclaimer regarding your use of this website.

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