Summer is a great time to bare your skin and soak up the sun, but if you’re dealing with skin issues like fine lines and wrinkles, sags, and hyperpigmentation, you may be reluctant to put your face out there for the world to see. Fortunately, a chemical peel can help you address those problems in time to enjoy the fine weather.
At Eterna Vein & Medical Aesthetics, our team of master aestheticians in Puyallup, Washington, offers chemical peels that can address a number of common skin complaints, allowing you to bare your skin without hesitation. Here’s how you can freshen your skin with a chemical peel.
The nitty-gritty of chemical peels
Chemical peels come in light (superficial), medium, and deep strengths; which one we use depends on how deep within the skin’s layers your blemishes reside.
For all peels, we apply an acidic solution to the skin, which removes the damaged top layers and sloughs off dead skin cells and debris. As the layers peel away, the blemishes within those layers peel away as well. In addition, the acidic process creates a “wound” in the skin tissue; your body responds by creating the raw materials needed to heal the area.
A major structural component of skin is collagen, a protein that provides strength and suppleness. When you’re young, you have an abundant supply that keeps your skin toned and smooth. However, when you hit your mid-20s, production begins to decline, leading to wrinkles and laxity.
The chemical peel removes worn-out collagen cells and kickstarts new collagen production in the skin’s middle layer, the dermis. This new tissue fills in lines and wrinkles and smooths out scars, giving your skin the strength and resilience it had when you were young.
We use chemical peels on the face, neck, and hands to remove many common skin blemishes, but you should be aware there are things peels can’t address. These include deep creases, sagging skin, large pores, deep scars, and areas that have lost fat deposits. These require other treatments we offer, such as dermal fillers, plasma resurfacing, or the Icon® laser.
Types of peels
Here’s a description of the three basic types of chemical peels.
1. Light (superficial) chemical peel
For a light peel, we apply either glycolic acid or salicylic acid to your skin, leaving it on for only a few minutes; it removes just the outermost skin layer, the epidermis. Light peels address fine lines and wrinkles, uneven tone, acne breakouts, and skin dryness. You can repeat the procedure every 2-5 weeks, as needed.
2. Medium chemical peel
Medium peels use a different acid — trichloroacetic acid, sometimes in combination with glycolic acid — and here, we leave the solution on for about 40 minutes. It removes cells from both the epidermis and the upper dermis layer just below. It also triggers a burst of collagen production. The new tissue fills in deeper wrinkles and acne scars and effectively addresses uneven skin tone.
This peel is more invasive than a light peel. As a result, we may provide you with pain medication and an oral sedative so you’ll stay comfortable during the treatment. You can repeat the procedure every 6-12 months, as needed.
3. Deep chemical peel
We only use deep chemical peels on the face. Here, we use a carbolic acid (or phenol) solution that reaches into the cells below the upper dermis layer; we leave it on for 60-90 minutes, with a break between sessions. Deep peels treat deeper wrinkles and scars, and they can also remove precancerous growths known as actinic keratoses.
Given that a deep peel is much more invasive than a medium peel, we numb the treatment area, provide you with a sedative, and administer fluids through an IV to prevent dehydration. Deep peels are a one-time-only procedure, and the recovery period is substantially longer than for the light or medium peels.
Am I a good candidate for a chemical peel?
You’re a good candidate for a chemical peel if you want to improve your skin's appearance but have realistic expectations for the outcome, understanding what the peel can do and what it can’t.
You’re not a good candidate, though, if you’ve used acne treatments within the last year that include retinoids, since they can affect the peel’s results and even damage the skin. And if you smoke or have a history of heart problems, we may recommend one of the other skin treatments we offer.
If you want fresh skin for the summer, a chemical peel might be the right option for you. To learn more, or to schedule a consultation with one of our aestheticians, call our office at 253-268-3400 today.