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Chemical Peels

The chemical treatment of the skin has made tremendous strides over the last ten to fifteen years. With the development of weak acids, the dead keratin layers of our skin can be safely removed resulting in a healthy glow to the skin. The most frequently used acids in this category are Retinoic acid (i.e.: Renova) and alpha-hydroxy acids (i.e.: glycolic acid). While some find retinoic acid a little too irritating and drying to use every day, either of these products are a safe product to use as an everyday maintenance of a healthy skin appearance.

If one is trying to eliminate superficial wrinkles, age spots, or sun damage then a more aggressive approach is necessary. The next stage in chemical peels is to use a stronger acid known as Trichloracidic Acid, or "TCA". The strength of the acid can be varied from 25% to 50% depending on the desired result. This acid is too strong to be used every day and does have a four to five day recovery period, followed by a few weeks of moderate skin redness. (This is the active ingredient in the Obagi Blue Peel). As with all of the chemical peels, sun avoidance, and use of sun-blockers is strongly recommended.

The overall premise in skin treatment is 'the deeper one penetrates into the skin, the more dramatic the improvements, but the longer the recovery'. The strongest acid or chemical peel being performed is a phenol peel. This peel is intended to improve deep wrinkles and sun damage. It takes about ten days to recover from a phenol peel, followed by six to twelve weeks for the skin to loose its young immature and irritated reddened appearance.

Chemical peels and skin treatments are a great addition to the armamentarium used by plastic surgeons to improve and preserve a healthier appearance to the skin. While many salons and estheticians are performing mild chemical peels, care must be taken to seek knowledge and experience when deeply treating the skin to avoid complications of scarring or permanent changes in pigment.