Chemical Peels – Part 1 – What you need to know before having a treatment.

I love spring and autumn for great result base treatment. One of my favorite treatments during this time of the year is Chemical Peels as they are a wonderful alternatives to laser and are a quick way to remove dead skin cells, fine lines, small scars, freckles, dark spots and/or skin imperfections caused by aging, hormones and the sun. They are controlled treatments to your face, neck, chest, and other parts of your body that can be performed safely by a medical aesthetician/skin therapist. But what peel is right for you and your skin concerns. Over the next couple of weeks I will go the various peel types available and what skin concerns they treat. In this blog we will go through the basics on peels

What are chemical peels?

Chemical peels are concentrated acidic solutions that exfoliate the outer layer of your skin, exposing the softer and smoother skin underneath which will reduce acne scars, pigmentation and minor wrinkles. Some of the more common chemical peels include Glycolic acid, Lactic acid, Mandelic Acid (AHA’s), Salicylic Acid (BHA), TCA (or trichloroacetic acid), Enzyme Peels ranging from 10% to 75% strength peels and a variety of pH levels. Which strength that is right for you depends on the skin condition that we are trying to treat, how your skin responds, what Fitzpatrick skin type for you and whether you have gotten chemical peels before.

Who Is a Good Candidate For a Chemical Peel?

Generally, patients that have Fitzpatrick Skin Type less than a ranking of 4 but with the new enzyme peels darker skin patients can now have peels with less adverse reaction. Unfortunately chemical peels are fantastic but not miracle workers it will not fix major sagging skin, bulges and severe wrinkles and you will need to look at Factional RF, Laser, or cosmetic surgery. Your Skin Therapist can help determine the most appropriate type of treatment for you and the results you are wanting to achieve.

Before You Get a Chemical Peel?
It is very important to have a pre-chemical peel appointment with your specialist. Your skin therapist will perform a full skin analyisi, and determine the course of treatment that is appropriate for you and your skin. Plus a full record of your medical history of scarring, if you suffer from cold sores that keep coming back, and what medication you are currently taking. Depending on your medication an may be asked to stop taking certain drugs and prepare your skin by using specific home skincare system.

How Chemical Peels Are Done?

Your therapist who does your peel will first clean your skin thoroughly ensuring there is no makeup, dirt, sweat and oil. Then he/she will then apply chemical peels to your skin. The chemical peel will create a controlled wound which will initiate the starting sequence for the formation of new skin. During a chemical peel, most people feel a burning and/or stinging sensation that lasts about five to ten minutes. The therapist can help reduce the uncomfortable feeling by fanning or patting the skin during the treatment. After the Peel has a cool compress can be used to ease any left over stinging. I personally like to use a hydrating mask and apply 20min blue LED photo-therapy treatment after a chemical peel as this will reduce the skin redness and helps reduce the chance of scaring.

What To Expect After the Chemical Peel?
Depending upon the type of chemical peel, a reaction similar to sunburn occurs after the treatment. In the first 12-24 hours you will have redness, followed by scaling/peeling that ends within three to seven days. Medium-depth and deep peeling may result in swelling as well as blisters that may break, crust, turn brown, and peel off over a period of seven to 14 days. During this time it is very important to keep the skin clean and hydrated to reduce the possibilities of affections and scarring. You can have several Blue LED Photo-therapy sessions to help with the healing.

Please understand you are removing old/scarred and damage skin to reveal an new you and new skin it is without saying that you need to be very vigilant with your sunscreen and avoid the sun as much as possible as your new skin will be fragile. And it goes without saying use zinc base sunscreen as the zinc will not only protect your skin but it is great in helping the skin to heal.

Possible Complications

Some skin types Fitzpatrick 4 and above are more likely to develop a temporary or permanent pigmentation change in the skin after a chemical peel. Most of the time this will self rectify over 12-18mths but sometimes it will not.
Some people may be more likely to scar but by following your aftercare procedure this is reduced. If scarring does happen, it can usually be treated with good results.
For people with a history of herpes outbreaks, there is a small risk of reactivating cold sores. During your pre-peel appointment will highlight this and you will be asked to see your medical professional and gain a prescribe medication to prevent or treat breakup.

Where to Get Chemical Peels and Cost?

Chemical peel treatments are available at most medi spas, day spas and you high end beauty salons. You also can receive these treatments at your local dermatologist or plastic surgeon’s office. The price of chemical peels will vary depending on where you get them done and what type and strength of peel you get. Pre-Chemical Peel Skin Analysis cost $50-$150, One light chemical peel will usually costs around $75-$150. Medium chemical peel including TCA are a bit more expensive ranging from $200-$300. LED Photo-therapy from $50-$75. Because you will usually need several chemical peels to achieve the result that you are wanting it is better to purchase a treatment package of 3 or 6 treatments which will be more cost effective. Ask your professional provider what packages they have that will suit your treatment plan.

Chemical peels can help fix and repair many unwanted skin conditions, but they must be used with caution. so next week – Part 2.  More in depth look at side effects and warning signs that you should be aware of before you commit to a chemical peel treatment package.


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debra spence
Debra Spence is a Qualified Medical Aesthetician, Cosmetic Scientist, Lecture and Author. Owned of an Australian National Award Winning Medi Spa. Now is concerntrating on Education of Skin and Skincare plus provideing advance treatments to her private patients. Plus developing Zen Dejour a Result Based Cosmeceutical Skincare Range and Dermal Solution Private Lable Professional Skincare.

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