What are the different types of chemical peels?
Chemical peels are broadly defined by the depth of damage in the skin that they produce. They are categorized as superficial, medium, and deep. Superficial peels do not damage skin below the epidermis, the most superficial skin layer. Medium peels may reach to the superficial layer of the dermis, the deeper layer of the skin. Deep peels usually reach the deeper layers of the dermis. The depth of damage depends on the nature and concentration of the chemicals in the peeling solution and the length of time they are permitted to interact with the skin. Popular chemicals in peeling solutions include retinoids, alpha-hydroxy acids (lactic acid and glycolic acid), beta-hydroxy acids (salicylic acid), trichloroacetic acid, and phenol (carbolic acid). Jessner’s solution, a combination of resorcinol (14 g), salicylic acid (14 g), and lactic acid (85%) in ethanol (95%), is also an excellent peeling agent.
What are the benefits of chemical peels?
If performed properly in appropriate patients, the appearance of the treated skin will have a more youthful texture with a uniform coloration that will blend with their untreated skin.
As a general rule, so called over-the-counter peels do not damage the skin and therefore cannot produce the same sort of results that a peel performed by a physician is likely to achieve. On the other hand, they are safe products and are unlikely to produce any skin damage. The so-called “microdermabrasion” is similarly non-invasive.
What are risks, side effects, and dangers of chemical peels?
The risks, side effects, and complications of chemical peels include scarring, infection, reactivation of herpes simplex infections, and a substantial contrast in coloration of the treated skin. All patients will have a recuperation period, the length of which depends upon the depth of the peel. Deep peels can result in substantial periods of healing on the order of weeks. Deep peels usually require extensive local anesthesia, conscious sedation, and occasionally common anesthesia, which carries its own risks.