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What a Chemical Peel Can Do For You

Aug 17, 2007
There are so many products on the market that claim to improve the appearance of the skin, but perhaps one of the best out there is chemical peeling. Chemical peeling is normally performed on your neck, face or hands. This type of treatment consists of the use of a chemical solution that is applied directly to the skin that causes the skin to blister and then fall off eventually.

The new skin that is revealed is usually smoother with less wrinkling then the skin that was initially treated. The new skin is temporarily more sensitive to the sun, therefore you must stay out of the sun for a period of time to allow for proper healing. The new skin is just that, new, so it will be very sensitive - take good care of it.

Various peeling agents have been used by dermatologic surgeons for over the last fifty years, making them experts in performing various types of chemical peels. As with any procedure, you must have a thorough consult to determine which procedure is right for you.

What Can a Chemical Peel Do?
Chemical peeling is most commonly used for treating fine lines around the mouth and around the eyes. Chemical peeling can reduce or even completely eliminate wrinkles that have been caused by aging, sun damage and hereditary factors. There are some areas that are more difficult then others to treat, such as bulges, sags and wrinkles that are more severe. These types of flaws may require other types of cosmetic surgical procedures, such as brow lifts, face lift, eye lift or even a soft tissue filler.

Most people are not aware that mild scarring and certain types of acne can be treated with chemical peels as well. Also, pigmentations of the skin, such as sun spots, liver spots, age spots, blotching from birth control pills, freckles and skin that is dull or flat colored or textured, can be improved from chemical peeling.

There are other types of treatments that chemical peeling can be combined with to achieve the best results. Chemical peeling can be combined with such procedures as dermabrasion, resurfacing with lasers or soft tissue filler to help obtain cost-effective rejuvenation of the skin that is customized to the needs of the individual patient. Some other areas that may improve after a chemical peel are precancerous keratoses, sun damaged spots or scaling patches.
After a chemical peeling, new patches or lesions are less likely to show up. Usually, people that are fair skinned and/or have light colored hair are good candidates for such treatments as chemical peels. Even darker skin types can also experience positive results, depending on the types of skin problems they have encountered.

How Are Chemical Peels Performed?
Instructions prior to surgery may include stopping certain medications to reduce interference with the procedure or recovery time. The doctor may treat the skin to pre-condition the skin with topical pre-conditioning medications. Cleaning of the area with an antiseptic soap is usually required prior to surgery, generally the day prior to surgery.

Chemical peels can be performed right in a doctor's office or as an out-patient procedure in a surgery center, making these procedures more convenient for people. The skin must be thoroughly cleansed at the time of treatment. This is done to remove any excess oils and to make sure the eyes and hair are well protected. If you would like to try one or more solutions, such as a chemical peel, you might want to try such items as: salicylic acid, an alpha hydroxy acid, a glycolic acid, lactic acid or a trichloroacetic acid (TCA) and sometimes a carbolic acid (phenol). These are used by Dermatologic surgeons that are well qualified to choose the proper peeling agent, this is based on the type of skin damage present. When getting a chemical peel, the physician will apply the solution to directly to small areas on the skin. These applications produce a controlled wound that will enable new, refreshed skin to appear. The majority of patients may experience a sensation that is warm to somewhat hot that may last from about five to ten minutes, followed by a stinging sensation. Deeper peels may require the use of pain medication during or after the procedure to make the person comfortable.

What Should Be Expected After Treatment?
Depending on the type of peel treatment you get, you may have a reaction similar to a sunburn that will occur following the chemical peel. There will be superficial peeling that usually involves redness, which is followed by scaling that will end within three to seven days. If you have medium-depth and/or deep peeling occur, this may result in swelling and the first sign of water blisters that may break, turn brown, crust and peel off over a seven to fourteen day period. You may require bandages, depending on what kind of chemical peel you had done. These would have to cover all or part of the skin that has been treated.

These bandages can usually be removed in several days and usually improve the effectiveness of the treatment. Avoiding overexposure to the sun is crucial after a chemical peel as the new skin is more susceptible to getting sun burned. Th skin will be very fragile and will need to be well taken care of to ensure that you do not damage the new skin. Without proper care, you may run the risk of an infection or a serious sunburn that can be detrimental to the new skin. Your dermatologic surgeon may prescribe the medications to allow for proper follow-up care to reduce the chance to develop abnormal skin color after peeling.

As with any procedure, check with your doctor to make sure you get the best treatment possible. Follow your doctor's instructions to a T to ensure that you heal correctly. You do not want to ruin the outcome of the chemical peel by not following the right advice.
About the Author
Barry A. S. Lycka is one of North America's foremost authorities on cosmetic and reconstructive surgery. You can find out more at http://www.barrylyckamd.com and http://www.restoringyouthonline.com. He is founder of The Ethical Cosmetic Surgery Association (http://www.ecsaonline.com).
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