Chemical peeling is now being regarded as the best option to give the skin a second lease at life. Chemical peels work by removing the epidermis, which is the outermost layer of the skin. Peeling off the epidermis dramatically improves skin texture, smoothing out wrinkles, erasing spots caused by photo-aging and balancing the skin’s color.
The chemical applied to the skin varies, depending on the extent of skin damage. Light to medium chemical peels are advisable for people who have age spots and pigment abnormalities or those suffering from the early stages of photo-aging. Cosmetic surgeons normally use either alpha-hydroxy (glycolic, lactic or fruit acids) or trichloroacetic (TCA) acids for the said procedure. Phenol peels, on the other hand, are recommended for severely damaged skin.
TCA vs. AHA
While both TCA and AHA can be used to treat light to moderately damaged skin, the former proves to be more effective in providing definite results. Dr. Mitchell E. Blum, a recognized cosmetic surgeon who has been practicing for more than 25 years, provides a deeper, more thorough peel, as opposed to AHA, which may require several applications before results can be achieved. He also states that a TCA skin peel mimics the results of a Phenol peel, in that it penetrates the deeper layers of the skin, but provides a shorter recovery period. TCA peel is also quite affordable, and medical grade kits for home use can be found online at http://www.bestskinpeel.com.
However, Dr. Blum advises the use of tretinoin (preferably Retin-A), glycolic acid and other bleaching agents at least four to six weeks prior to undergoing the procedure to prepare the skin for the chemical peel. This is because tretinoin stimulates the skin to heal faster while glycolic acid enhances the effect of the tretinoin.
The procedure is fairly quick, consuming a maximum of one hour. TCA is applied onto the face, focusing specifically on troubled portions of the skin. Because of the burning sensation that the TCA will generate, surgeons normally advise their patients to drink painkillers or sedatives to relieve the discomfort. Ice can also be applied to the skin to relieve the pain.
After The Procedure
Patients are advised to wash their face daily with gentle soap and water, followed by the application of an oil-based or steroid ointment. The skin will appear red for the first few days but will eventually flake within four to seven days. To achieve maximum effect, patients are advised to use sunblock to avoid recurring skin problems.