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Chemical Peel Procedure for the Skin

chemical peel is a procedure to remove the top layer of dead skin cells and some of the living skin cells at the very top of your skin. There are several types of chemical peels but all peels remove the top layers of the skin, to reveal new skin underneath which grows back as a younger fresher skin.

Some peels are thin and some peels are thick – thin peels are referred to as superficial peels, thicker peels are known as intermediate and very thick peels are referred to as deeper peels. You will require to have a consultation appointment before booking in for a peel.

Superficial peels:

Used to improve the appearance of:

  • pigment changes in the skin,
  • acne scars,
  • mild sun damage
  • fine wrinkles in all skin types.

They can be done on the face and on other parts of the body.

Medium peels:

Used to treat

  • mild to moderate wrinkles
  • long-term sun damage
  • pigment changes
  • Precancerous lesions of the skin (usually caused by sun exposure).

Medium peels are used most often on the face.

Deep peels:

Used to treat

  • severe wrinkles
  • long-term sun damage
  • pronounced pigment changes, and
  • lesions and growths on the skin.

They are done only on the face. Deep peels are not done on darker skin types, because they bleach the skin.

The most superficial peels are with substances such as glycolic acid and this is found in many over the counter preparations and peels performed by beauticians. These have a short recovery time and have a mild but noticeable effect which should last several weeks.

The intermediate peels are performed with trichloroacetic acid, or TCA as it is known. TCA peels can be concentrated or diluted according to how deep we want to go, and several layers of peel can be given to go a little deeper if necessary for your skin requirements. We usually use 20-30% for most people and use one to four passes depending on how much time you have to recover and what effect you are looking to achieve. The recovery time is a little longer than the more superficial peels but the effects are more dramatic and last longer. Peels of this strength need to be performed by a doctor, though some weaker solutions of TCA peels can be performed by nurses.

Chemical peels are best used for treatment of mild to moderate skin problems. They work particularly well to restore sun damaged skin and can help with very fine lines and wrinkles around the eyes and lips. A peel can help restore evenness to your complexion and should freshen your skin and can remove some of the sun damaged areas of freckling around the cheeks. When performed as part of an overall package of care for facial rejuvenation it can be considered the icing on the cake for your overall look. We want you to look your best and sometimes a chemical peel will be part of your treatment recommendation.

TCA peels

A chemical peel using TCA can be performed in the outpatient clinic and takes around 15 minutes. After the treatment someone should drive you home and you can perform your usual daily activities in shortly thereafter. During the application of the peel, you will feel a stinging sensation which is neutralised with water. After the peel is applied, your skin will become frosty white which is a good sign of the peel working.

The aftercare depends on the strength of treatment and the number of passes but usually involves the application of cold water for around 6 hours to the face via a face towel and moisturiser (eg Vaseline) thereafter for a few days until your skin stops peeling. After a few days you should notice some of the dead layer of the skin coming off in the Vaseline and you will see fresher newer skin below.

A deeper TCA peel may need longer periods of skin care and more superficial peels will require less intensive aftercare. After your skin stops peeling and you stop using Vaseline you should go back to using your usual moisturizer.

Preparing your face for a peel

To get the best results from the peel you can prepare your skin so that it is primed and ready for the peel. Although this is not necessary, if you have time you can do this to help the peel penetrate a little more deeply and give you the maximum effect of the peel. You may want to strongly consider using daily harsh exfoliation for 10 days before your peel. Please do not wear makeup on the day of your peel. You should lightly moisturise your skin every few hours for the first week after your peel, and we can recommend moisturisers for you.

Maintaining your new complexion

Maintaining your new look should be with a combination of the aftercare in the above options and the occasional chemical peel. Peels usually need to be repeated regularly as each time there is a mild to moderate effect on the skin. Usually you will need more than one peel but with several peels the deepest skin damage may not be completely removed by a chemical peel.

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