Chemical Peels - Everyting You Need to Know!
As the name suggests, chemical peels remove the uppermost layer of the skin with the help of a chemical agent. This can be alpha-hydroxy acids, beta-hydroxy acids, trichloracetic acid, or carbolic acid (phenol).
These chemicals come in various strengths. Your dermatologist or plastic surgeon will choose the appropriate strength and combination of any of these agents, depending on what type of formula you need. These chemicals will cause the skin to blister and peel off, resulting to what’s known as controlled wound. This wound stimulates the growth of new epithelial and dermal cells, boosting collagen and elastin synthesis. This may help to improve the appearance of your stretch marks, but results are typically minimal.
The expansion of your skin that causes the formation of stretch marks results to weakening or damaging a protein that is responsible for the skin’s elasticity called elastin. Unfortunately, chemical peeling does not strengthen elastin, so you can only hope to improve the appearance of stretch marks. While you will notice an appreciably lighter appearance of your skin after treatment, you can also anticipate a mild discomfort during the process of exfoliation and all through healing.
How is Chemical Peeling Performed?
Chemical peels are usually performed as an office procedure where each sitting does not require hospitalization. Primarily, the skin is sanitized with soap water to eradicate the extra sebum or to remove excess oil. Lighter peels do not require anesthesia, but deeper peels do. Next, the doctor applies the peeling agent (chemical solution) onto the stretch marks using a small brush or cotton tipped applicator. The dead outer surface layers of the skin are removed during the process. After several minutes, the acid is neutralized and then wiped off. During or shortly after chemical peeling, you might experience a cool, warm or hot, or a stinging sensation of the skin that can last for 10 minutes or more. Pain medication may be necessary for deeper peeling of stretch marks during or after the procedure. Each session usually takes about 30 minutes, then one to three weeks of recovery. The number of peeling sessions can vary among patients though.
Who are the Best Candidates for Chemical Peels?
Individuals who have sun damage related wrinkles, acne scars, age spots, dull complexion and rough scaly skin can get chemical peels to correct these conditions. Normally, people who have fair skin and light hair are ideal candidates for chemical peels. However, even darker skinned individuals also have the tendency to achieve good results, depending on the type of skin being treated.
Types of Chemical Peels
Chemical peeling is often classified by type, depending on the extent and depth of skin damage, your skin type, the kind of results you want to achieve, areas you want to peel, the risk you’re willing to take, and so on. The acid concentration of the chemical agent, the number of coats being applied, and the amount of time allowed before the acid is neutralized are all determined based on the type of chemical peel being performed.
Alpha Hydroxy Acid Peels: AHA chemical peeling is a remedy for light or mild cases of irregular skin conditions or discoloration such as fine wrinkles, areas of dryness, uneven pigmentation and acne. You may experience stinging, skin redness, mild skin irritation and dryness during or shortly after the procedure. AHA chemical peels can be performed once a week for six weeks to obtain maximum results.
Trichloroacetic Acid Peels: TCA acid is used for medium-depth peeling. It penetrates the skin deeper and much faster than AHA peels. Patients who are scheduled for TCA acid peels are typically required a pre-treatment with Retin-A or AHA creams. Repeat treatments every 6 to 12 months are also necessary to maintain results. Moreover, patients undergoing TCA acid chemical peeling are advised to wear total sun block after treatment for several months.
Phenol Peels: Phenol is the strongest of all chemical peel solutions and is used for the deepest possible skin peel. Effects of this treatment are long-lasting, which may still be apparent for 10 to 20 years after a single peel. Phenol peels are necessary for people whose skins are badly damaged due to scarring, sun, wrinkling or blotchiness.
How Much Does a Chemical Peel Cost?
If you decide to undergo chemical peeling, you should first know that they aren’t cheap. The cost for deep chemical peels ranges from $2,000 to $7,000, including the doctor’s fee, anesthesia, operating room use and follow-up care. For medium chemical peels, the price ranges between $1,000 and $2,000 for this type of treatment. If you are looking for the cheapest price, you can begin with a light peel that ranges between $150 and $300.
Chemical peeling is considered as an “aesthetic” procedure and not as a “medical” treatment. Therefore, your health insurance may not cover the cost of the procedure. For more severe medical conditions that require chemical peels, patients are advised to check with their respective insurance carrier to discuss their options.
What are the Side Effects and Possible Complications?
Like any other medical procedure, chemical peels do have a few possible side effects. Since you are going to spend your hard earned money for it, it’s wise have a fuller understanding of the procedure by looking at its possible side effects and complications.
Temporary redness, stinging and burning sensation, skin discoloration, flaking and peeling of the skin are the most common side effects of chemical peels. These conditions can result from the peel’s chemical action hence any patient who undergoes treatment should anticipate these side effects. Furthermore, pigmentation, scarring, reactivation of cold sores and keloids are the most possible complications that can arise after the procedure. Pregnant women, women who are taking birth control pills and individuals who have a history of brownish skin pose a greater risk of having skin discoloration after a chemical peel.
Having all these mentioned, you must discuss with your doctor about proper follow-up care in order to avoid or reduce the tendency of developing any skin abnormality after peeling. Always discuss the risk of side effects and complications prior to chemical peeling. Generally speaking, though, chemical peeling is safe if performed by an experienced health care provider.
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*Results not typical - This article makes no guarantee of results.