What are chemical peels?
Chemical peels are widely used to treat different skin problems such as signs of aging, post-acne scars, and sun damage. People who suffer from mild scars and wrinkles usually opt for chemical peels as well. It is a chemical solution that is applied to your skin to remove its top layer and the layer that will grow back is so much smoother.
They are effective in treating discoloration, hyperpigmentation, and melasma that are typically found on the face. They can be done alone or combined with another cosmetic procedure at different depths (from light to deep). Deeper chemical peels can give you more significant results, however, they also take longer to heal from.
3 Depths of Chemical Peels
A chemical peel is a skin-resurfacing procedure that comes in three different depths, including:
1. Light Chemical Peel
A light (also called superficial) chemical peel removes the epidermis (the outer layer of the skin). It is used to treat wrinkles, acne, uneven skin tone and dryness. You can have a light peel every 2 to 5 weeks.
2. Medium Chemical Peel
A medium chemical peel removes skin from the outer layer of the skin (epidermis) and from some portions of the upper part of the middle layer of the skin (dermis). It is also used to treat wrinkles, acne scars, as well as uneven skin tone. You may need to repeat having medium chemical peel to get or keep your desired result.
3. Deep Chemical Peel
A deep chemical peel removes skin cells deeper compared to light or medium chemical peel. Your doctor may suggest having this procedure for deeper wrinkles, scars, or precancerous growths. You will not need to repeat this procedure to achieve the full effect.
Side Effects and Risks
Having chemical peel can cause different side effects, such as:
1. Redness, Scabbing and Swelling
Normal recovery from a chemical peel can cause redness of the skin that is treated. After having a medium or deep chemical peel, redness may last for a few months before it goes away.
In some cases, having chemical peel can cause scarring usually on the lower part of the face. Antibiotics and steroid medications can be used to soften the look of these scars from chemical peels.
3. Skin Discoloration
A chemical peel can cause skin discoloration to the area of the skin that is treated. Its color becomes darker or lighter than normal (known as hyperpigmentation). Hyperpigmentation is more usual after light chemical peels, while hypopigmentation is more usual after having the deep chemical peels.
Having chemical peels may lead to bacterial, fungal, or viral infection like the flare-up of the herpes virus (a virus that causes cold sores).
5. Heart, Kidney, or Liver Damage
Deep chemical peels use phenol (carbolic acid) which can damage heart muscle and be the reason for your heart to beat irregularly. Carbolic acid can also possibly harm the kidney and liver. To limit yourself from exposure to phenol, a deep chemical peel is performed in a 10 to 20 minute intervals.
A chemical peel is not for everyone, your doctor may not recommend this procedure (or only some certain types) if you:
- Had oral acne medication such as isotretinoin (Myorisan, Claravis, and others) in the past 6 months
- A family or personal history of ridged areas caused by keloids (the overgrowth of scar tissues)
- Are pregnant
- Usually have severe outbreaks of cold sores
Do chemical peels help with skin discoloration?
Chemical peels are used to treat different skin issues (signs of aging, post-acne scars, and sun damage). It is a very effective procedure used to treat discoloration, hyperpigmentation, and melasma.
Discoloration or hyperpigmentation of the skin are caused by many different reasons, such as sun exposure, hormonal changes, and old scarring as well. Many people are also suffering from melasma, a common skin problem that causes gray or brown toned discolored patches that appears on the face, usually on the bridge of the nose, forehead, and chin. All skin discolorations are caused by the increase in levels of melanin in the skin. There are some things that you can do to avoid skin discoloration, such as avoiding too much sun exposure, or applying a high SPF sunscreen to your skin. Unfortunately, in most cases, it is impossible to avoid hyperpigmentation.
These are very effective and safe procedure that can be used in treating skin discoloration on the face and other parts of your body (for example: hands and legs) where hyperpigmentation usually appears.
Chemical peels range from light chemical peels that only affect the outer layer of the skin, to deep chemical peels that work on deeper layers of the skin thus giving more significant results. Light chemical peels usually involve the use of AHA chemicals of salicylic acid and remains on the skin for a short period of time to remove the outer layer of the skin. It will then reveal the smoother, more young-looking skin underneath. Medium chemical peels works the same way but they remain on the skin for a longer time. They also use solutions with higher concentration of acid to penetrate your skin further into the upper layer of the dermis. Deep chemical peels utilizes phenol (carbolic acid), allowing them to treat more severe skin problems since they can reach the deeper layers of the skin. Doctors will recommend which of the three depths of chemical peels to use and it will depend on how serious the discoloration or hyperpigmentation is.
They are usually done by dermatologists and it could take about thirty minutes. Deeper chemical peels are done under general anesthesia and are usually one by surgeons who treat one small area at a time, and then applies bandages after the procedure. Recovery time can differ, but the skin typically appears red and swollen for 48 hours after the procedure. The smoother, young-looking skin will appear in one or two weeks. Usually, a few sessions of light chemical peels are required to get the best results, while a deeper chemical peel can only be done once. Chemical peels are one of the best solutions for people suffering from skin discoloration or hyperpigmentation, as well as melasma.