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Ask the Experts: Chemical Peels

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Ask the Experts: Chemical Peels

There’s a multitude of treatments today that address different facial skin problems. But if you’re looking for something with quick results that doesn’t involve needles, surgery, and lasers, a chemical peel might just be the ultimate solution. 

One of the most common questions we often get is, “Do they really work?” However, the answer isn’t a simple yes or no.

Below, we break down why chemical peels are highly effective for some people but not for others, as well as who is (and isn’t) a good candidate for this treatment. 

Chemical Peel Basics 

Chemical peels involve applying a chemical solution to the skin to remove the damaged top layer. This allows healthy skin to grow in its place. It addresses acne, hyperpigmentation, uneven skin tone and texture, fine lines and wrinkles, and other skin problems.

There are three types of chemical peels you can get: 

Which Chemical Peel is Right For You?

What’s appropriate for you depends on your skin concern and what your skincare specialist’s recommendation is. 

Superficial Peels

In general, we recommend superficial peels to people with very fine wrinkles, uneven skin tone, acne, and other issues that only affect the epidermis (outer layer of the skin). The solution used for superficial peels is mild—usually a combination of alpha-hydroxy, salicylic, and lactic acids—so it’s safe to get a superficial peel every two to five weeks.

Medium Peels

For skin problems that are a bit deeper into the skin, such as acne scars and wrinkles, we usually recommend medium peels. Medium peels utilize a slightly stronger solution—typically with trichloroacetic or glycolic acid—to target both the epidermis and dermis (upper part of the middle layer of the skin). It can be performed every four to six weeks.

Deep Peels

Deep peels use very strong chemical solutions such as phenol to fully penetrate the middle layer of the skin. It is used to treat moderate to severe wrinkles, sun damage, scars, and precancerous skin patches. Deep peels should only be performed every two to three years.

When Is the Treatment Most Effective? 

Chemical peels are effective if:

  • You’re a good candidate;
  • You get the right type of peel for your skin condition; and
  • It is performed by a professional.

Good Candidates for Chemical Peels

This is the typical criteria to determine if someone is a good candidate for chemical peels: 

  • Generally healthy skin;
  • Light complexion;
  • Can stay out of the sun for the recovery period;
  • No untreated skin infections on the treatment site; and
  • No allergies to any of the chemicals used in the solution.

The effectiveness of chemical peels largely depends on the accuracy of your consultation results. If you’ve been advised to get a superficial peel for skin conditions that are rooted more deeply than the epidermis, then the treatment certainly won’t produce the desired effects.

In the same manner, medium and deeper peels used to treat superficial skin problems will only subject you to unnecessary long recovery periods, scarring, and other side effects.

So are chemical peels safe? Yes, they are—but only when they’re done by a professional. At the hands of an amateur, chemical peels can lead to complications such as infections and systemic side effects.

Why It’s Not for Everyone 

Although chemical peels are effective for most people, they might not be the best solution if you have freckles as they can create an unnatural look.

People with very deep wrinkles are also not good candidates for peels because the solution won’t be able to penetrate the skin deep enough to address the issue. 

Individuals with extra oily skin also usually don’t respond well to peels.

If you have a dark skin tone, you may experience a different result. Although chemical peels can lighten dark spots, people with dark skin have a greater chance of experiencing post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (darkening of the skin).

You’re also not a good candidate for chemical peels if you fall under these categories:

  • Pregnant or nursing;
  • Sunburnt or have inflamed acne;
  • Using retinoids or taking Accutane;
  • Immuno-compromised;
  • Have a heart disease;
  • Have a history of abnormal scarring, skin disease, or cold sore breakouts;
  • Have sagging skin and extra colouring in your scars; or
  • Have undergone surgery/radiation therapy. 

A woman’s face showing the before and after of a chemical peel

Consult a Skincare Specialist 

To determine if a chemical peel is right for you, be sure to consult only with credible skin care professionals like APT Medical Aesthetics.

We are a team of certified and highly-trained professionals in skin care treatments like chemical peels. If you’re wondering if you’re a good candidate for this procedure, contact us now to request a free consultation.

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