Facial skin differs from that of the body in many ways. Some areas of the face are covered by very thin skin, like the eyelids. Other areas, namely the lips, have a unique composition and texture. Facial skin tends to be oilier than the rest of the skin and is prone to blemishes and blackheads. Because the face’s frequent exposure to the sun and constant facial expressions, aging may occur more quickly than other areas of the body, resulting in wrinkles, sagging skin, and discoloration. These signs of aging and other skin problems can be addressed through various cosmetic procedures, but the chemical peel is one of the most trusted methods to promote skin renewal. Dr. Philip Schoenfeld and his medical staff offer this effective procedure at Renu in Washington, DC.
What is Chemical Peel?
As the name implies, a chemical peel or derm peel is a procedure that involves the application of a topical chemical solution to the facial skin, creating a safe reaction that prompts the body to shed the outer layer of skin cells. The organic acids exfoliate the upper layers of the epidermis to remove dull, damaged skin and prompt the formation of renewed skin cells and collagen. Chemical peels can improve skin discoloration caused by hormones and sun damage, fine lines, and minor scarring of the skin to provide a more uniform skin tone and texture. The result is a healthier, more refreshed appearance.
Fitzpatrick Skin Types
The rainbow array of skin colors can be classified by the Fitzpatrick system that takes into account skin, hair, and eye color; reaction to the sun; and the development of freckles. Patients may be prescribed certain chemical peel treatments based on their Fitzpatrick score. People with fairer skin tend to be level II or II, medium skin tones are commonly rated level III and IV, while darker tones are likely to be a V or VI.
The Different Strengths of Chemical Peel at Renu
AHA (Alpha Hydroxy Acid) Peels
Derived from plants, glycolic acid and lactic acid are two of the most commonly occurring AHAs found in everyday skin care products. Cleansers, toners, and even moisturizers contain this low-grade acid to offer gradual exfoliation of the skin. In higher concentrations, AHAs can be applied to the skin to create more dramatic results, reducing fine lines and wrinkles. This type of chemical peel is designed to create improvements in superficial layers of skin and can treat mild to moderate skin concerns.
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BHA (Beta Hydroxy Acid) Peels
A common BHA, salicylic acid is the acne-fighting active ingredient in many skin care products sold over the counter. The concentration of the acid in these types of products is normally between 0.5%-2%. Higher grades must be prescribed. BHAs are oil-soluble and can break down oil that accumulates in pores. More potent BHAs are applied to the skin in a controlled setting during chemical peel treatment to provide exfoliation, decrease issues caused by oily skin like blackheads and acne scars, and shrink the pores. Another way that salicylic acid can improve the skin is by dissolving the bonds that hold the cells together, promoting skin peeling. An important benefit of using salicylic acid on the skin is that it serves as an anti-inflammatory antiseptic while fighting bacteria found on the skin.
Some solutions may also contain TCA (trichloracetic acid), which is a close relative of vinegar and can add depth to a peel, and/or retinoic acid, which is a derivative of vitamin A and can be used to reach the deepest layer of skin, the dermis.
Clinically Proven Peels
PCA SKIN Brand Peels
Sensi Peel is designed for sensitive and ethnic skin that may be reactive to certain types of skincare treatments. This peel restores vitality and brightness to the skin and reduces the severity of sun spots and hyperpigmentation. The Sensi Peel calms inflamed skin and is the choice method for application on acne-prone and inflamed skin. This peel is also effective for improving the appearance of rosacea.
Vi Brand Peels
Vi Peel with Precision booster chemically treats the pores and promotes collagen and elastin production. The treatment enhances a patient’s current look by acting on congested skin while leading to long-term skin renewal results from cell turnover. Vitamin C and the bleaching agent hydroquinone brighten the patient’s complexion. The peels also contain calming ingredients to increase comfort and allow patients to enjoy their results sooner.
SkinMedica Brand Peels
Illuminize is an acid peel that is ideal for any skin type. Considered a starter peel, this gentle yet effective solution can create a renewed appearance after a single application, though results will be more dramatic if the treatment is repeated. There may be some mild redness and irritation following the peel, but the side effects generally subside within hours or days. Patients should expect minimal peeling.
Vitalize chemical peel is formulated to reduce lines, wrinkles, and textured skin. The formula involves approximately 2-3 days of skin peeling. The acid strength is slightly more potent than that of Illuminize. For the best effect, 3-6 sessions are recommended.
The Rejuvenize peel is comprised of various acids and offers gradual results over a series of peels. It is a stronger formula than Illuminize or Vitalize as it treats deeper skin imperfections, like deeper lines and wrinkles. Rejuvenize will improve the skin after a single treatment, though patients generally undergo between 3-6 chemical peels for optimal results. The skin will peel for 2-5 days.
Candidates for Chemical Peel
Most people can benefit from tailored chemical peel treatments to improve their complexion. While at-home or in-office mechanical exfoliation methods can irritate certain skin conditions, peels act on the tissue in a different way and are easily customized for an individual’s needs. Chemical peels are not performed to perfect the skin, but rather to produce significant improvement. Candidates should be healthy men and women who would like to enhance the look of their skin and have realistic expectations about what peels can achieve. The Fitzpatrick system may be used to determine which type of peel is most suitable for each patient.
Undergoing a Chemical Peel
The procedure is typically performed at Renu – Artful Medicine, and the experience may vary depending on intended results. First, the skin is cleansed and may be prepped for chemical exfoliation. Mild peels that create only superficial peeling do not require a topical anesthetic, but patients who are receiving deeper peels will be given numbing cream to reduce discomfort during treatment. Next, a blended chemical solution is applied to the skin to initiate the peeling. After a predetermined length of time, the solution is neutralized and the skin is cleansed to stop the peeling process and to wash the products off. The doctor may provide or recommend skin care products to use at home following a chemical peel.
After a chemical peel treatment, patients might notice mild swelling and some crusting of the skin. Special skin products and ointments are usually suggested for a week after the treatment to maintain moisture in the skin. The skin may look red, but this should fade in a few days to weeks, depending on the depth of the peel. The new skin will be visible in a week or two and may appear pink at first. This skin is susceptible to sunburn, so products containing SPF are a necessity for any type of sun exposure. Lower-strength acid peels will not require any downtime, but deeper peels may create dramatic peeling of the skin and patients will likely require some time off of work.
Mild peels can be repeated up to six times over several weeks while some deep peels are only applied once. Sedation may be recommended for very deep peels.
Chemical Peel FAQs
How does dermabrasion differ from a chemical peel?
Both procedures are performed to offer a controlled method of damaged skin removal that is superior to available at-home methods. Dermabrasion is a type of mechanical exfoliation that utilizes a sanding technique to remove the upper layers of skin, while a chemical peel is performed more gradually by an initial application of chemical exfoliator. In the same way that dermabrasion and microdermabrasion offer different levels of treatment, chemical peels can be adjusted to provide light to deep skin layer renewal. The concepts of the two treatments are similar in that older skin is removed to allow fresh regrowth to form.
Can I perform chemical peel on myself at home?
It is not safe for patients to apply acids to their skin on their own at home. Medical professionals who work with these powerful solutions are trained in skin care and aesthetics and have the products and knowledge to create dramatic results and then safely neutralize the skin. It is only in a controlled medical setting that patient safety can be optimized.
What are the benefits of a chemical peel?
Chemical peels can effectively treat some types of acne and rosacea, lessening redness and inflammation in the skin. The procedure can also improve the look of skin discoloration like age spots and melasma. Early signs of aging like mild to moderate wrinkling and rough-textured skin can be improved with a chemical peel. By promoting skin cell turnover, dull skin can also be brightened and the overall complexion improved.
How many chemical peels should I undergo?
Lower and medium-strength peels can be performed 3-6 times for the best results, while deep peels may be applied just once. Dr. Schoenfeld can help patients determine the best treatment plan for their needs.
What other treatments complement chemical peels?
Dr. Schoenfeld is a double board-certified facial plastic surgeon who specializes in restoring youth and beauty to the skin. There are a number of procedures that can further enhance a person’s appearance when performed alongside a chemical peel. One of the most popular additions to chemical peel treatments is one or more facial fillers. These injections can plump the lips, treat deeper wrinkles, and raise acne scars so they are less visible.
Can I undergo chemical peel on my body?
Patients can be treated on the chest, neck, and hands to improve the look of the skin. These are common areas that are affected by sun damage, premature lines, brown spots, and hyperpigmentation. Treating the face as well as other areas of the body provides more uniform skin rejuvenation.
Philip Schoenfeld, M.D., F.A.C.S.
Dr. Schoenfeld is the plastic surgery and skin care specialist at Renu – Artful Medicine in Washington DC. The doctor is double board certified and an expert in facial treatments. He offers patients a wide range of effective surgical and non-surgical procedures at his office. The doctor has been practicing in the DC area for the past two decades and has become a renowned and sought-after choice for patients in the area. Dr. Schoenfeld is recognized as an expert by both his patients and peers and has been selected as Top Doctor in different publications around the nation. Call (301) 652-RENU (7368) to reach the Chevy Chase, MD office, or complete the practice’s Contact form to schedule your consultation.