Chemical Peels

Your face and skin are subjected to environmental and genetic factors every day that cause imperfections, discolorations, or irregularities. Common causes of a less clear complexion include sun damage, aging, and even medical conditions. Many patients with imperfections on their skin have experienced and noticed their complexions becoming more smooth, even, and healthy after a chemical peel. At Sutton Place Dermatology, we are committed to restoring a youthful, natural complexion with the least invasive techniques possible.

What are chemical peels?

A chemical peel is a chemical solution for your face, neck, or even hands to help gently exfoliate and rejuvenate skin damaged by sun exposure or aging. A chemical peel gently yet efficiently removes only unhealthy or damaged skin cells on the top layer of skin while simultaneously promoting the healthy production of new skin cells. Each chemical peel is specifically designed to target and treat certain skin conditions.

What are the different kinds of chemical peels?

Chemical peels can be easily divided into three groups: light, medium, and deep chemical peels. Each of these chemical peels are comprised of different solutions to target and effectively treat different conditions. For each specific treatment, a chemical peel can be adjusted in concentration and strength to effectively produce results.

A light chemical peel gently removes the layers of dead and damaged skin of the epidermis (top layer of skin). Light chemical peels are most commonly comprised of glycolic acid or alpha hydroxyl acid. This type of chemical peel can be used to treat and to help rejuvenate skin affected by acne, uneven pigmentation, and fine lines. After a light chemical peel, your remaining skin cells are rejuvenated, and healthy skin cells are regenerated.

A medium chemical peel commonly consists of trichloroacetic acid, which can be adjusted and tailored to your particular case to most effectively treat your symptoms. A medium chemical peel goes deeper into the tissue to treat sun damage, age lines, and acne. In the weeks following a chemical peel, the top-most layers of unhealthy skin will gently peel away.

Deep chemical peels utilize the chemical compound phenol and are often referred to as phenol peels. A phenol peel penetrates the skin deeper than a light or medium chemical peel can. These chemical peels provide the most significant and noticeable results, but due to the depth at which phenol peels reach, there is a recovery period needed to adequately heal from a deep chemical peel.

Types of Chemical Peels
Light Chemical Peels Typically made of glycolic or alpha hydroxyl acid. Can help treat minor skin conditions like acne, fine lines, scarring, and discoloration. Most patients are candidates. May cause slight temporary pinkness.
Medium Chemical Peels Usually consists of trichloroacetic acid. Works at a deeper level than light chemical peels. Can help treat more moderate skin irregularities or conditions. Pinkness may take up to two weeks to fade. Most patients are candidates.
Deep Chemical Peels Uses phenol. Works at the deepest level to provide the most significant results. Skin will be sensitive and inflamed following surgery. Unhealthy skin will shed. Redness can last up to three months. Candidates with certain medical conditions may benefit from another form of rejuvenation than a phenol peel. Does not work for patients with darker complexions or freckles.

What should I expect from a chemical peel treatment?

Each patient reacts differently to a chemical peel. Your expected results, recovery time, procedure time, and candidacy are all dependent on the type of chemical peel treatment you are undergoing. Prior to your chemical peel procedure, our dermatologists will go over your general health and medical history in order to tailor a chemical peel treatment to your particular needs and goals.

Prior to the application of any chemical peel treatment, the skin will be thoroughly cleaned. Once the chemical peel treatment is applied to the skin or face, there will be a period where the chemical peel slowly permeates your skin and is able to work. After the appropriate time, our dermatologists will gently wash away the chemical peel treatment with water and apply a calming moisturizer or ointment to the treated area to soothe any irritated skin. An average chemical peel takes thirty to sixty minutes to complete.

Recovery time varies with each patient and is dependent on which type of chemical peel you are having applied. Normally, light chemical peels require little to no recovery time or discomfort. For all patients, we recommend that you use a mild cleanser and an unscented lotion to keep your skin soothed and hydrated after your chemical peel treatment. Also, we recommend that you do not subject your skin to direct or prolonged sun exposure, as this can irritate and inflame your newly formed sensitive skin.

Since medium and deep chemical peels target cells deeper into the skin and tissue, most patients usually experience a period of downtime after their procedure. After receiving a medium chemical peel treatment, it is common that some patients may experience mild swelling or inflammation, but most patients do not feel any severe discomfort or pain. Your face and skin may remain red for up to a week after your procedure. You will be given post-treatment instructions on how to properly care for your sensitive skin.

A deep chemical peel treatment requires a longer recovery time than other peels. After your procedure, you may experience redness, swelling, and discomfort. Unhealthy or damaged skin cells will shed within the one to two weeks following your chemical peel treatment, leaving a new layer of healthy but sensitive skin. This skin will remain red or pink for up to three months following you chemical peel treatment, but it will eventually fade and leave a clear, even complexion. Due to the sensitivity and elongated healing time, we urge you not to expose your skin for prolonged periods to sunlight, as this can damage and further irritate the healing skin.

Am I a candidate for a chemical peel treatment?

The ideal candidate for a light chemical peel treatment would be a healthy adult with minor or smaller skin imperfections. A medium chemical peel procedure is recommended for those who are attempting to treat blemishes, scarring, uneven pigmentation, discoloration, or age lines.

A deep chemical peel treatment is not recommended for all patients due to the increased recovery time. If you are not a candidate for a deep chemical peel treatment, you may benefit from other treatments such as microdermabrasion. The properties of phenol in a deep chemical peel treatment have a bleaching agent that can provide less natural results for patients with darker complexions. Additionally, patients with freckles are not ideal candidates, as phenol removes freckles. Deep chemical peels are designed solely for the face and are not used for spot treating. If you have a certain medical condition or heart condition, you may not be eligible to receive a deep chemical peel treatment. Our dermatologists will discuss the particular details of your case and your candidacy to best create an effective treatment regimen to restore your complexion.

How can I learn more about chemical peels?

Our dermatologists would be glad to discuss chemical peels with you. To request a personal consultation with our dermatologists to discuss chemical peels, please request an appointment online or call 212.838.0270.

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