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Chemical Face Peel

Enhancing the Skinís Appearance
with Chemical Peels

Chemical peels are used to treat fine lines, wrinkles, sunspots, scarring, or to improve the skinís appearance. Three types of peels are performed, depending on the extent of damage to the skin and the desired outcome: superficial peels, medium peels, and deep peels. Each has its advantages and disadvantages.

A superficial peel is just as it sounds: a lighter peel that does not penetrate as deeply into the skin. Superficial, or mild peels, are generally done with alpha hydroxyl acids (AHA), but trichloroacetic acid (TCA) may also be used. These peels have been dubbed Ďlunch hour peelsí because they take only 15 minutes to complete and the patient can then resume normal activities. However, the skin may flake and remain red for a few days. The patient will most likely need treatments over a longer period of time to reach the desired effect.

A medium peel often contains trichloroacetic acid (TCA). Though this treatment will not correct deep lines and wrinkles, it will improve the texture of skin with fine lines and pigmentation problems. The procedure lasts up to one hour, and the patient may feel a slight burning or stinging sensation during the treatment. Within a week, the treated skin will crack and peel, revealing a fresh layer underneath. Redness may persist for up to two weeks, and several peels may be needed to treat the area(s), depending on the severity of the skinís damage.

Deep chemical peels are often referred to as phenol peels. These are the most extensive of the three, and therefore recovery time is longer, pain is more severe, but the results are often superior to other techniques used for eliminating skin damage. Only one treatment is needed and the results will last for years. Sedation will be used, and in some cases the heart will be monitored with an EKG, due to the increased risk of irregular heart rhythms. The procedure can take up to two hours for a full-face peel, and since swelling of the eyes is common, it is suggested that the patient have someone to care for him or her for at least 48 hours after the procedure. One downside to a deep peel is that the intensity of the peel can cause the skin to turn a ghostly white color, and this color may not change; so the best candidate for a deep peel is someone with a fair skin tone. After the procedure, the skin will be raw. Pain medication and antibiotics may be prescribed. After three months, the skin should lose the bright red tone. Generally, patients can return to normal activities after two weeks.

Patients should always wear sunscreen after any of the three procedures, in order to protect the skin and stop the chances of new problems occurring.

The cost of a chemical peel will depend greatly upon the location of the surgeon, the type of peel, and the number of treatments that need to be done in order to reach the desired effect. Superficial peels, or those using AHA, can average around $200, while deep peels can cost up to and over $2,000.

It is highly recommended that a board-certified surgeon be used to perform any of the three peels. In order to be board certified, a doctor must have experience above and beyond medical school, which includes a residency in the field as well as completion of comprehensive oral and written exams. Those that are board certified have achieved the highest requirements of the American Board of Plastic Surgery.

As with any procedure, there are risks involved. While superficial peels are generally safe to use without any adverse reactions, medium and deep peels penetrate further into the skin. Therefore, infection, scarring, and a change in skin color are all possible. Also, people prone to cold sores or fever blisters run a risk of breaking out. If youíve had a problem with these before, talk to your doctor before the procedure.

Article by Kathy Murdock.

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