What is a Chemical Facial Peel?

Diane Goettel

There are a number of types of chemical facial peels that vary in terms of the types of skin issues that they address as well as the severity of the recovery period and the intensity of the results. Many people think of a chemical facial peel as a facelift without the surgery. While the results of a chemical facial peel are not as drastic as a facelift, the peel can quite visibly reduce wrinkles. In addition to refining and reducing wrinkles, chemical peels can also help to fade age spots and treat acne. Because chemical peels can help to reduce variances in skin pigmentation, some people use them to fade scars, birthmarks, or freckles.

Chemical facial peels may help clear up acne.
Chemical facial peels may help clear up acne.

The process of a chemical facial peel is fairly simple. A topical product is applied to the face, avoiding the delicate skin around the eyes and mouth. The product helps to remove layers of skin, especially dead skin cells and layers of skin that have been damaged. The intensity of the chemical peel relates directly to the amount of skin that is shed, the amount of recovery time that is needed, and the cost of the procedure.

Chemical facial peels may help reduce wrinkles.
Chemical facial peels may help reduce wrinkles.

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A chemical facial peel should only ever be applied by a doctor. This is especially true for the deeper peels that require anesthesia. A doctor must first screen a patient to make sure that he is a good candidate. Furthermore, a doctor must monitor a patient's process after the chemical facial peel while the skin is healing. Without this sort of care, the skin could become scarred, discolored, or infected.

There are four basic types of peels: light, medium, deep, and peels specifically for people with acne. A light chemical facial peel, which made with alphahydroxy acids, can be used to treat fine wrinkles and uneven pigmentation. Although there are peels specifically for people with acne, this kind of facial peel can also help to clear up acne.

A medium chemical facial peel, which is usually formulated with trichloroacetic acid, targets the same issues as a light peel but with more noticeable results. A deep chemical facial peel, the strongest of all facial peels, which is formulated with phenol acid, can treat deep wrinkles, reverse sun damage, and even treat pre-cancerous growths on the face. The procedure for this peel usually takes one to two hours and the recovery time can be as long as several weeks.

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