Chemical peels effectively treat a host of skin problems, including acne, discolorations and fine lines and wrinkles. A chemical formula is applied to the face, which removes the damaged outer layer of skin and leaves softer, smoother skin underneath. Most procedures take less than an hour to perform, with minimal discomfort during the treatment. There are a variety of chemical peels offered today, which allows you and your skin care specialist to partner together to find the best formula for your specific needs. Check out our list of the top five chemical peels, from the lightest to the deepest peel available.
Alpha hydroxy acids, also known as AHAs, are one of the most popular ingredients in a mild chemical peel. Glycolic acid is the most common AHA used for this purpose. AHA peels rarely need any sort of anesthetic to perform, and the discomfort during and after the procedure is minimal. This peel is typically used to reduce the appearance of fine lines, smooth rough skin and produce a more even skin tone. Because this is a mild chemical peel, a series of treatments may be required to achieve desired results.
The most common beta hydroxy acid used in chemical peels is salicylic acid. This substance is also frequently used in acne products, which is why salicylic chemical peels are often used to treat acne-prone skin. Salicylic acid is more potent than glycolic acid, so it provides a slightly deeper chemical peel with longer lasting results. Because beta hydroxy acid chemical peels are also considered mild resurfacing treatments, no anesthesia is needed and the recovery time after the procedure is relatively short. However, it may take more than one treatment session to achieve desired results, and the procedure will need to be repeated periodically to maintain softer, smoother skin.
Jessner's peel is actually a combination of ingredients mixed into a single formula. It is considered a light chemical peel that is slightly stronger than both the alpha and beta hydroxy formulas. Jessner's peel uses lactic acid, salicylic acid and resorcinol, which is also sometimes used as a disinfectant or acne medication. It is applied to skin that is too damaged to respond well to an AHA peel, but does not require a medium to deep treatment. Jessner's peels are often applied without the use of anesthetic and complete recovery after the treatment takes about a week.
Trichloroacetic acid is the most common ingredient found in medium chemical peels. This substance can successfully treat a host of skin imperfections, including sun damage, fine lines and wrinkles, and acne scarring. The procedure offers effective results with minimum risk. Most patients do not require anesthesia during the procedure, although over the counter pain medications may be needed for a day or two afterward to reduce the stinging sensation that can sometimes occur. TCA chemical peels usually take about a week to recover from, and the results are much more dramatic than lighter peels can offer. Some patients need more than one treatment session to achieve desired results.
Phenol is the substance of choice for deep chemical peels that provide the greatest and most dramatic results. In addition to treating skin imperfections, this type of chemical peel may be used to remove precancerous growths or completely diminish deep wrinkles. Because the formula works more deeply than other types of chemical peels, most phenol peels require an hour or two in the doctor's office and usually involve a local anesthesia during the procedure and pain medication afterward. Phenol peels can take up to a month to recover from completely, but the result is impressively smoother skin that will last much longer than that treated with other types of peels.
The right type of chemical peel for you will depend on the skin imperfections you are treating and the results you are hoping for. Check out our network of clinics offering chemical peels in your area to find a specialist and treatment that is right for you.