Chemical Peels are procedures during which a substance is applied to the skin resulting in faster skin cell turnover (exfoliation or peeling).* They come in different strengths that penetrate to different depths of the skin. Chemical peels are one of the most popular dermatologic procedures at Greenbrae Dermatology.
Chemical Peel Benefits
Chemical peels have a variety of benefits. Despite being effective, compared to many other treatments, chemical peels tend to be fast and affordable. Even if one doesn’t have a specific skin problem, getting a chemical peel is a great way to restore and maintain a glowing complexion.* A Chemical peel can be helpful for:
- acne, acne scars
- postinflammatory hyperpigmentation
- actinic keratoses
- sun damage
- fine lines
- razor bumps
- dull complexion
Types of Chemical Peels
There are different types of chemical peels (superficial, medium, and deep), which offer different benefits and risks. Some peels include only one ingredient and some are blends of several peeling agents.
Superficial (Light) Peel:
- Penetrates the epidermis (the most superficial layer of skin) causing dryness or mild peeling
- Conditions: acne, melasma, post-inflammatory hyperpigmenation, sun damage, fine lines, complexion management
- Examples: low concentration, glycolic acid, salicyclic acid, tretinoin, mandelic acid, lactic acid, low concentration TCA
- Penetrates the epidermis and the upper (papillary) dermis causing significant peeling
- Conditions: acne, acne scars, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, sun damage, fine lines, actinic keratoses, complexion management
- Examples: high concentration glycolic acid, Jessner’s and modified Jessner’s. tricholoracetic acid (TCA) at low concentration, VI Peel
- Penetrates deeper into the dermis causing peeling and crusting
- Conditions: severe scar and sun damage. Not generally safe in darker skin. Largely replaced by lasers.
- Examples: Phenol, Baker-Gordon, high concentration TCA
The deeper the peel, the more dramatic the changes, but also the greater the recovery time and increased risk of complications and scars. Deeper peels may require pre-treatment of the skin. It’s best to do the most superficial peel that will achieve the desired results.