There are three types of skin peels available and they are used to achieve different results.
Superficial chemical peels (for example glycolic acid) are easy to apply and the time needed for healing is minimal, but they won’t achieve long-lasting or dramatic results.
Medium chemical peels (like trichloroacetic acid/TCA) can achieve more dramatic and long-lasting results for blemishes, fine lines and facial scarring.
A deep peel will help reduce more severe facial wrinkles, but carry a higher risk of producing post inflammatory pigmentation and scarring.
The peel is applied to your face for a set period of time. Following the procedure, your face will be red and sensitive. The length of time it will take to recover will depend on the type of peel you have had and sensitivity of your skin. After a medium or deep peel, it can take a couple of weeks before you can go back to normal activities but even after this time, your skin could still be quite red.
As your skin heals, you will have to take precautions such as wearing sun block. You will be given instructions on how to look after your skin during this time and it is important to follow these to allow your skin to heal properly and avoid complications.
The consultant will take you through all the risks and benefits associated with this type of procedure and it is important to talk through your expectations with your consultant before the procedure.
Expectations from treatment
Skin improvements that may result from a peel series
- softening of fine lines from sun damage
- diminution of coarse lines from sun damage
- increased smoothness in skin texture
- mild or moderate smoothing of acne scars
- lightening of pigmentation irregularities
- increasing skin glow or radiance
- some minimization of pore size
Speed of improvement needed or wanted
- textural smoothening and improvements with acne prone skin can occur within a month
- deeper textural changes require multiple peels. Noticeable improvements usually occur within 3 months
Amount of healing/ recovery time possible
- no time, back in your routine the day after the peel
- a few days, up to a week
What to expect shortly after the procedure
- You are likely to experience localised redness and swelling to the treated area
- Rarely pain or tenderness requires painkillers
- Normal activities can be continued
- Rich moisturising cream should be applied for comfort
- DO NOT pick or peel the skin before it is ready to come off, you can trim large areas of peeling skin with clean scissors
- Apply total sun block daily to maintain results
- Rarely the following may happen:
- An allergic reaction
- Excessive swelling and oedema
- Hyper pigmentation
- An outbreak of cold sores
Should you experience any of the above please contact your specialist.
Please remember, that the correction will not last forever, it is therefore advisable to have repeated treatments and use skin care products as advised.
What to do before the peel
At least three to four weeks before the peel you should stop using exfoliating sponges or buff pads and discontinue all forms of hair removal. Avoid shaving the day of the peel.
For 3-7 days after the peel, clean the skin with warm water using the mild liquid cleanser. Use fingertips (not a wash cloth) since the skin is very sensitive at this time. Avoid the use of abrasive or exfoliating sponges.
The skin will turn brown, wrinkle up, and crust, like sunburn.
Do not peel, pick, or scratch the exfoliating skin.
Avoid sun exposure and tanning beds as this can cause discoloration of the new skin. A sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher should be applied every morning before going outdoors. Daily sunscreen use should continue indefinitely to prevent new photo damage from occurring. Make up can be used, but do not cover the entire skin that was treated.
Swelling of the skin following superficial peel in uncommon. Paracetamol or Ibuprofen (200 mg) may be taken 3-4 times daily with food to reduce swelling and discomfort, if needed. Sleep propped up in bed on the first night following treatment.
Contact the specialist if you develop fever, blistering of the treated skin or cold sores.
Touch-ups or a second peel are likely to be needed after the initial peel. Wait at least 4-6 weeks before reapplying the TCA.