The procedure aims to resurface the skin providing a softer and fuller texture, with less superficial scaling and fine lines, and a more even and lighter pigmentation. The chemicals remove the superficial layers of skin to reveal more youthful skin beneath. The achievable benefits depend on the individual patient and the depth of the peel used.
Some peels, for example, fruit acid (AHA, alpha hydroxyl acid) or ICP (Innovation Concept
Peel – salicylic acid) peels, only work on the epidermis (the top layer of the skin). They
therefore provide a modest and temporary result, but offer a quicker recovery. They work
by altering the acidity of the superficial skin layers resulting in a range of effects, from simple swelling to exfoliation.
Deeper peels, for example TCA (trichloroacetic acid), penetrate into the superficial or mid-dermis (beneath the epidermis) and produce a more substantial effect which depends upon the exposure time and concentration of the solution used. These deeper peels are associated with a longer recovery time and more potential for complications.
The more aggressive phenol peels have re-emerged as a powerful way to resurface widespread and deep facial lines. They require a general anaesthetic and weeks of post-operative care similar to laser resurfacing. Laser has largely replaced chemicals for deeper peels because of its improved safety, ease of use and less detrimental effect on skin pigmentation. However, superficial chemical peels are increasingly popular.
Other factors affect the depth of the resulting peel. These include skin thickness, surface grease or dirt, skin hydration and temperature, exposure time to the chemical, and whether occlusive dressings are used during the peel.
The depth of the peel required depends on the condition of the skin being treated. An important consideration is the length of time you are prepared to accept for recovery. The deeper the peels the longer the recovery required.