Tap to Read ➤

What is a Chemical Peel?

Bidisha Mukherjee
Chemical peels help in improving skin imperfections and can even reverse the effects caused by skin aging. Let's take a look at what a chemical peel is and the benefits are of using one.
A chemical peeling technique is also referred to as derma peeling or chemexfoliation. This is a non-surgical cosmetic treatment that is used to get rid of skin blemishes, acne marks, wrinkles, fine lines, uneven skin pigmentation, and other skin irregularities.
Many people consider it as an alternative to plastic surgery. The best part of using a chemical peel, is that it gives quick results. Moreover, it does not require hospitalization, where a person is treated as an outpatient.

What is a Chemical Peel?

A chemical peel is a chemical-based solution with an acidic component. During a session, this solution is applied on the affected part of the skin surface, after thoroughly cleaning the area.
It is then allowed to penetrate into the skin, separating dead, damaged skin cells present on the uppermost layer of the skin, from the underlying layer.
The separated skin peels away after a certain amount of time (as overseen by the professional performing this on a person), where clearer, smoother skin is revealed, that is significantly different from what it once was. Chemical peels are commonly used on facial skin but it can be used on other problematic areas like the neck, arms, chest, and legs.

Light Chemical Peel

This is also known as a superficial peel. The chemical components of these peels contain either alpha hydroxy acids (or AHAs) or beta hydroxy acids (or BHAs). An AHA peel usually contains glycolic acid, whereas a BHA peel contains salicylic acid.
It is often used on dry, rough skin, acne-prone skin, and sun-damaged skin. Because it has a mild effect on the skin, it needs to be reapplied after 6-8 weeks.

The method of applying this peel is quite simple, since it does not require any administered anesthesia. 
For this reason, you can use this kind of chemical peel at home. If you are looking for a good chemical peel, then I would suggest a glycolic acid peel; it is derived from naturally-occurring fruit acids. The most effective peel for acne-prone skin is one that contains salicylic acid.

Medium Chemical Peel

Trichloroacetic Acid (TCA) is the main ingredient of medium-depth chemical peels. This peel is more suitable for those who have dark skin. It is used for the treatment of superficial skin blemishes, fine lines, wrinkles, and abnormal skin pigmentation.
If a concentrated form of this chemical peel is used for skin treatment, then anesthesia is needed. Otherwise, no anesthesia is required. Sometimes, more than one sitting is required after a gap of a month or two, in order to experience the best results.

Deep Chemical Peel

This peel contains a strong chemical named phenol acid which readily penetrates the skin. Just one session is enough to get the best results from this treatment. If you ask me which chemical peel works efficiently on deep wrinkles or blotchy skin, I'd say phenolic-acid peels.
Sometimes, this peel is even used on pre-cancerous growths. This type of chemical peel technique has to be performed by a certified dermatologist. It is carried out by first putting a patient under anesthesia. The recovery time for this kind of chemical peel, takes longer than others. Dark-skinned people should avoid this kind of chemical peel.

What to Expect after Using a Chemical Peel

Selecting a chemical peel is based upon the skin condition that a person suffers from. Moreover, the medical history of the patient is studied before the treatment. This is because people with a medical history of fever blisters, keloid, and the like, tend to experience unwanted complications like a permanent change in their skin tone.
Some temporary chemical peel side effects include: Pain, a burning sensation, swelling, and reddening of the skin post the treatment. These problems subside within a few hours or even days after the treatment.
These effects can be controlled to a great extent with the help of medicines and proper skin care. The treatment is highly effective for skin discoloration, acne problems, wrinkles, age spots, and pigmentation problems, to name a few.
However, if you want to use a chemical peel for acne scars, it will effectively remove visible but not underlying scars. Chemical peels won't tighten saggy skin or reduce the size of enlarged pores, but strictly skin imperfections on the surface.
A chemical peel cost varies according to its type. The cost of a light chemical peel treatment can be as low as $150. You can get an over-the-counter mild chemical peel that you can use at home, for about $30. A medium chemical peel will cost you about $1000, for one session. A deep chemical peel technique is by far the most expensive, and can go up to as high as $6000.