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:
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.
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