The word “chemical peel” insights a deep dread and apprehension in most patients when I even begin to mention it but that is the last thing that one can expect from these amazing skin procedures.
So what is a chemical peel?
In layman’s terms, its when we apply an acid to the surface of the skin and create a controlled injury. Depending on the type of acid used, this penetrates either superficially or a bit deeper into the skin. The top surface of the skin then sheds off – either microscopically where you do not actually see it, or more visible with the appearance of shedding a few days later.
We control how deep the acid penetrates the skin and we apply products after to help the skin regenerate. As with many other bodily concerns, you see the best results when doing a series of peels. It’s like fitness – you can’t go and run the Comrades after one treadmill session – a series of chemical peels at regular intervals yields the best results!
How does it benefit the skin?
While a chemical peel gets rid of the some of the top layers of skin, it leads to increased collagen and elastin formation in the deeper structures, thereby actually improving skin quality rather than thinning the skin as some people think. The layer that you are losing with the shedding is usually, the “dead” or inactive layer of skin.
Different acids target different skin concerns – from aging and fine lines, pigmentation, skin texture irregularities, acne, large pores and congestion and general dull skin. There really is an acid for every skin and every skin concern.
Which chemical peel is for you?
We like to create a unique skincare plan based on our assessment of skin your skin type, sensitivity, at home products and skin tone. Some skin tones should never receive certain acids and this is why seeing a medical professional for chemical peels is very important. If done by an unqualified profession with inferior products, complications do occur.
Your pre and post peel skin care routine is also of vital importance. Using medical grade products accentuates the results of the chemical peel, which is why we do advise the use of specified products before and after.
What is the down time?
Superficial chemical peels do not actually lead to visible shedding of skin and have no downtime. You don’t need to peel for a chemical peel to work. This is the beauty of the process.
Medium and deep chemical peels are reserved for those patients who use medical grade skincare at home and have prepared their skin with previous superficial chemical peels. These chemical peels are done by doctors and have a bit more downtime. With some, slight peeling of skin from day 2-5 after the procedure is seen.
What is the aftercare?
As with most skin procedures, avoidance of the sun post chemical peel is the number one rule! If one has sun exposure after a chemical peel, you run the risk of worsening or creating pigmentation or burning the skin. Avoidance of heavy exercise, heat, saunas and swimming pools is also essential in protecting the skin in the first few days after the chemical peel.
No active products should be applied in the days directly after a peel – only a gentle face wash, barrier cream and sunscreen throughout the day.
Why is winter the best season for chemical peels?
In the Lowveld, our summers are just unbearable in terms of heat and even if one is not in the sun, the heat itself is a contraindication for deeper chemical peels. A series of chemical peels now based 2-4 weeks apart will target those skin concerns before we head into the summer season. In summer, we can choose other skin procedures which don’t have as much downtime as with chemical peels.
It will be heating up in a few months’ time, so now it the best time to get your treatments in.
Healthy skin is in.
– Dr Allison Blair