Chemical peel is a medical procedure that involves the use of various chemical substances causing controlled chemical damage to different layers of the skin. Damage to the skin activates all the defense mechanisms which results in the appearance of new, regenerated skin.
For this purpose, different types of acids are used such as alpha hydroxy acids, betahydroxy acids, trichloroacetic acid, phenol, Jessner’s solution, and retinol.
The type of acid used strictly depends on patient’s skin type and condition.
What types of chemical peels are there?
Different acids have different degrees of penetration into the skin depending on the base in which they are dissolved, the amount of free ions, concentration, acid pH and, of course, the skin type.
Glycolic acid belongs to the group of alpha hydroxy acids (AHA). It is unjustifiably believed that this acid is mild, probably because it is most often used in smaller percentages. This acid has a very small molecule and can penetrate deep into the skin. It destroys the connective tissue between skin cells, stays in the skin for a long time and is very suitable for oily skin.
In skin prone to redness or dry skin, it can cause unpleasant redness that is difficult to remove without additional procedures. It is very suitable for skin prone to pimples, blackheads or blemishes.
Lactic acid is another alpha hydroxy acid. It is very mild even in a high percentage, and is one of the best means of hydration.
Salicylic acid, an ingredient in many anti-pimple creams, has the best comedolytic properties (destroys blackheads). It is a beta acid and has a strong antibacterial effect. It must not be used on large surfaces because it is resorbed and may cause tinnitus (ringing in the ears).
Mandelic acid is also a beta acid, perfect for acne and scarring of pimples.
Trichloroacetic acid (TCA)
Trichloroacetic acid (TCA) is a powerful means of regenerating skin damaged by the sun or various treatments. It can be used as a very superficial peel for blemishes or a deep peel for scars. It rejuvenates the skin incredibly if used once or twice a year continuously in a concentration of 25 to 35%.
This acid coagulates proteins, so it stops itself from penetrating the bloodstream and is not toxic. Unlike most acids, it cannot be neutralized, so in order to achieve the proper results, experience and education are required.
Retinol has a small molecule, easily penetrates deep layers of the skin, and stimulates collagen production.
Phenolic peel resembles a CO2 laser, it strongly stimulates new collagen and elastin. It can give the skin a 10 year younger look.
It is cardiotoxic and is performed under strictly controlled conditions. Recovery is long, may take up to 3 months.
Melanotoxic, may cause permanent pigment loss.
Chemical peel – indications
Chemical peel – contraindications
* Active bacterial infection
* Active viral infection
* Diseases that manifest Koebner phenomenon (appear in areas of skin damage: vitiligo, lichen planus, psoriasis…)
* Open wounds
* Skin cancers in the area being treated
Side effects of peels
Any acid can be potentially dangerous if used improperly. The most common complications are hyperpigmentation and prolonged redness.
Hypopigmentation may also occur as well as scarring. With the introduction of laser technology, it was believed that chemical peels would be forgotten. However, they remain a golden tool for rejuvenation and solving various dermatological issues.