Chemical Peels sound much scarier than they are in reality. We work to educate our patients that the “peeling” is more of a side effect from the treatment than the actual goal. The peel solution that is applied to the skin goes to work on it’s particular concern and sometimes this can cause our skin to shed or peel some superficial dead skin cells. Most peels are formulated to treat acne, discoloration, or promote collagen production and those results are seen over time. For best results, most people are going to want to do a series of 3 to 6 peels depending upon their desired results and level of damage.
What exactly is a chemical peel?
When patients hear the words ‘chemical peel’ for the first time, they were a little worried. The reality is a chemical peel can range from very conservative and gentle to more aggressive, which can involve some sloughing or ‘peeling’ of dead skin. We always start with a more conservative approach with patients to see how their skin reacts to the various solutions we apply during the procedure. Once we and the patient have a better idea of how their skin can tolerate different strengths, we can start deeper peels which also bring results quicker.
What should I expect from a chemical peel?
- Does my skin “peel” after having a peel treatment? –Patients often feel as though their peel didn’t “work” if no visible exfoliation takes place after the peel. The truth is this does not determine the efficacy of treatment. Generally, healthy skin has less visible peeling and sometimes the exfoliation takes place at the cellular level so it can not be seen happening on the surface. On the other hand, some patients’ skin is so affected that it can take a few peels to loosen dead cells enough to allow them to shed. Typically, these patients will see little or no peeling initially, and then see sloughing after a few treatments. As we see in all of our procedures, each patient brings a unique biology to the table and therefore side effects such as peeling can not only vary from patient to patient, but also from treatment to treatment with the same person.
- Do I need to wash my peel solution off? – Some peels such as glycolic acid need to be neutralized or washed off in order to get safe results, but the majority of what we perform here at Clinical SKIN Therapeutics are self-neutralizing, meaning they can be left on the skin with no harm. Your technician will instruct you on how to care for your skin after your peel in order to achieve the best results.
- Do I need to change my routine up after having a peel? – Yes, first and foremost, we are going to recommend using a broad spectrum SPF of 30 or higher as you will be more sensitive to the sun after you treatment. As we remove old dead skin cells and bring up healthy new ones, they need extra protection just like young skin does. Additionally, you should avoid heated activities such as workouts, saunas and hot tubs as well.
- Should I expect the same outcome each time I receive a peel? – As we mentioned above, there are several factors that affect how much visible exfoliation you will see such as: current skin conditions, combined with seasonal weather conditions like humidity, which may cause flakes to adhere to the skin more so than in dry climates. Further, there may be a lot of visible exfoliation after the first treatment and less for the second, but this does not mean the first treatment worked better than the second. Moreover, someone who has previously had peel treatments may not have as much visible exfoliation as someone who has never or rarely gets treatments, as these patients will have more build-up. Everyone has a different tolerance for peels and that tolerance tends to increase with additional treatments.
- Are Peels good for all skin types?– Most everyone can benefit from a chemical peel as it removes dead skin cells allowing for products to work better, but the solution we choose makes all the difference. We do check for any allergies to ingredients as well as Fitzpatrick skin type when determining which peel to choose for the patient’s concerns.
- Will I see changes with just 1 treatment? – Regular in-office treatments are critical to maintaining optimal skin health. Depending upon the condition we are treating, the number of peels can vary as well as the frequency of getting them. Typically we want to do a series of at least 3 spaced 3-4 weeks apart.
- Is it really important to use skincare products at home if I’m getting in-office treatments? – Along with receiving regular treatments from a clinician; a patient’s at home regimen is just as important to maintaining skin health. If you think about it, a person treats their skin 60 times in any given month using skincare both morning and evening, while a clinician just touches their skin once a month. As a result, a single in-office procedure can only provide desired benefits if the patient is doing their part at home on a daily basis to maintain the health of their skin. Further, using a broad spectrum sunscreen is imperative post-peel as the procedure can cause photosensitivity. Remember, peels work at the cellular level and are still working long after you’ve had the treatment.