Sometimes it helps to give natural processes a little boost. Human skin is continually exfoliating, shedding dead cells and replacing them. But it doesn’t always do so as fast as we’d like. That’s when treatments such as chemical peels can accelerate the process.
Periodic peeling of the skin helps stimulate cellular activity and can be used for addressing a variety of skin issues: from age spots to acne, enlarged pores to pre-cancerous growths. At Laser & Mohs Dermatology of New York we offer chemical peels that exfoliate either lightly, moderately, or aggressively depending on the chemical used.
What is a chemical peel?
Most people don’t think of their skin as an organ, but it is, the largest organ of the human body. Our skin is comprised of three layers: the epidermis, the dermis, and the fat layer. Chemical peels primarily deal with the epidermis, blistering the upper layer, but can also penetrate the dermis layer. The surface skin loosens and eventually peels off, allowing new, unblemished skin to take the place of the older, dead and damaged cells. Chemical peels are an easy, non-invasive option for skin rejuvenation.
Cleopatra was one of the earliest proponents of chemical peels. She used sour milk, which contains lactic acid, as the peeling agent. Romans also used the tartaric acid found in grapes.
What skin problems can be remedied with a chemical peel?
Chemical peels do not address deep facial lines and they cannot tighten loose, sagging skin. But they are excellent for these skin conditions:
- Sun damage
- Fine lines and wrinkles
- Texture issues
- Pigmentation problems
- Age spots
- Acne and acne scars
- Scaly patches
Light chemical peels
Superficial chemical peels are excellent for exfoliating the outermost layer of the epidermis, removing dead and damaged skin cells and refreshing the skin’s glow.
At Laser & Mohs Dermatology of New York, we use light peels for dry skin, fine wrinkles, and to improve acne. We usually use naturally derived alphahydroxy acids for these peels: glycolic acid (derived from sugar cane, grapes, or sugar beets), lactic acid (derived from sour milk), or salicylic acid (derived from plants).
After your first few light peels, your skin may have some redness and irritation, but as your skin becomes more exfoliated this will pass and your skin will simply glow after your peel. Light peels can be done on a regular basis to keep your skin looking its best.
Medium chemical peels
Medium-depth peels penetrate more deeply, into the dermis layer. We use them to treat acne scars, deeper wrinkles, and uneven pigmentation.
The peeling agent is trichloroacetic acid.
Medium peels will require some recovery time, as they leave the skin red and stinging. There will be some crusting, and the redness can linger for up to a few weeks. Medium peels can be repeated, but not more than three or four times per year.
Deep chemical peels
These are the most aggressive chemical peels using phenol acid as the peeling agent. Deep peels penetrate into the lower dermal layer and can address deeper wrinkles, sun damage, pre-cancerous growths, blotchy skin, and scars.
Prior to receiving a deep peel, patients first do some pre-treatment at home to prepare their skin for the procedure. Immediately before the peel, the patient will receive local anesthetic and a sedative, if requested, to help manage any discomfort.
Deep chemical peels are an aggressive skin treatment and require recovery time. The patient will have peeling, crusting, swelling, and redness for several days after the peel. Redness can remain for up to three months, and the use ofsunscreen is paramount, as your skin will be very fragile. Due to their aggressiveness, deep chemical peels can be done no more than once per decade.
Learn more about the different levels by clicking here.
Combining a peel with another procedure
At Laser & Mohs Dermatology of New York, we can also enhance the results of your chemical peel with laser/IPL rejuvenation to tighten the skin, or with dermal fillers or Botox. A thorough skin evaluation by Dr. Quintana will help determine what best meets your needs.