Of Skin and Wellness

Carmen Chatten | November 15th, 2014
Carmen Chatten – Of Skin and Wellness (Photo by Howard Gaither)

Carmen Chatten – Of Skin and Wellness (Photo by Howard Gaither)

The skin you want is under the skin you see. For this reason chemical peels are an obvious choice to reveal younger, smoother, brighter skin. In the aesthetic industry, it is common knowledge that individuals have many different thoughts in regards to the procedure. Those thoughts tend to be negative as a result of a lot of misinformation that can readily be found on the internet, disseminated by media and other individuals’ report of past experiences. This misinformation creates fear and tends to make people nervous. Just like any other advanced skincare treatment there are risks. However, when performed by a properly trained professional, the benefits definitely outweigh the risks. It is the clinician’s responsibility to fully explain treatment outcomes but this article will highlight some common myths regarding the procedure.

Basic Truth: Chemical peels provide a nonsurgical, nonablative peel technology that offers a controlled removal of damaged skin to smoothe texture, improve wrinkles, brighten the skin, and increase hydration and firmness. Chemical peels—whether light, medium or deep—all involve the removal of the upper layers of the skin, which is known as an ablative skin procedure. Depending on the depth of the peel, one could possibly experience swelling, redness, flaking and peeling. It is important that post peel care instructions are followed so that the skin is hydrated and protected following treatment. Once healing is complete, one will see overall improvement in the texture and color of the skin.

Myth #1: Chemical peels require significant downtime
Truth: Post-peel recovery time varies depending on the type and strength of peel you receive. Traditional peels of the past usually contain phenol and produce a deep resurfacing effect. Those peels are not the peels of modern day. The truth is most peels performed today do not call for any down time. This is because they typically are milder with no visible signs of exfoliation; for some, slight redness and skin flaking may be noticed. Having a series of milder peels is safer and will give one the same effect of the “phenol” peels of past times.

Myth #2: Skin Will Or Must “Peel”
Truth: This is an outdated concept. Based on what was previously known regarding traditional peels, individuals believe that they will have a sunburn-like appearance accompanied with itching and unsightly shedding that requires one to go into hiding for a week. Again, this is not true. A chemical peel should not interrupt one’s day to day life. Skin, in fact, does not have to peel. Advanced formulations applied to the skin typically cause dead epidermal cells to dissolve. This process is usually invisible to the naked eye, working on a microscopic level. As a result these dead skin cells shed with normal grooming activities and continue to shed with an effective at home skin care regimen. Keep in mind, the deeper the peel the more shedding that will occur.

Myth #3: One Peel Will Do The Trick
Truth: Regular in-office treatments are critical to creating and maintaining optimal skin health. Chemical peels are recommended in a series. The very least is 3 treatments but for many 6-12 treatments per year is needed or required. One should plan on initially getting a peel every 2-4 weeks apart in order to treat all layers of the skin. Normal skin turnover is 21-28 days, as one gets older that process slows down considerably. Evenly spaced peels at your clinicians discretion according to your skin issues allow the skin the heal post treatment while it treats an additional layer of skin with each visit. Hyperpigmentation, for example, is layers deep so to effectively improve skin pigmentation one should prepare to have a peel every 2-4 weeks at a minimum of 5-6 peels.

Myth #4: Stronger Is Better
Truth: Traditional peels all fall in the same category: they contain the highest percentage of single acids with the philosophy that stronger is better. Stronger is not always better. Stronger peels will in fact aggressively peel the skin. This is the aggressive peel that people are all too familiar with. It is the chemical peel that causes the skin to “peel” in sheets. These peels are performed by a physician and while there still is a place for this type of peel, they are not performed very often any more. Peels of today include alpha and beta hydroxyl peels, in addition to Jessners and TCA peels. These peels are more favorable directly related to virtually no downtime and an exfoliation that occurs over a course of days.

Superficial, Medium and Deep Peels
Superficial/light – also called the “lunchtime peel” – No down time
Great for: Minimizing the signs of aging, Reducing fine lines/wrinkles, Increased product penetration (i.e. serums), Exfoliation of dead skin
After: You can expect some possible pinkness the day of your treatment and possible mild flaking 2-3 days after. Medium Depth Peels – faster results – but more down time – Typically includes TCA (trichloroacetic acid)
Great for repairing sun damage, correcting pigmentation issues, minimizing the signs of aging. After, you can expect redness, tightness, brown skin (where the skin is actually peeling). Recovery time is typically one week, but this treatment can cause pinkness and sensitivity for up to 6 weeks.

Deep Peels
The strongest type of peel available – Only available through a doctor. Great for those who need significant resurfacing as determined by a physician and want to avoid more ablative treatments.
After: Immediately following treatment, the skin will be red and feel like it is sunburnt. You will also experience a significant recovery time with swelling, scabbing, and a risk for infection.
Final note: Regardless of which peel you desire, it is important that you choose a professional who has been properly trained. Peels sold over the counter and on the internet are not safe for use at home. Not having a peel performed correctly may lead to significant hyperpigmentation and scarring that will take many months to correct.

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