Chemical peeling (Dr. Sean Lau)
What is a chemical peel and who would benefit from it?
It is a procedure that applies chemical agents to the skin in order to induce a controlled destruction of part of the epidermis, leading to the removal of the superficial dead skin layer, and followed by the new collagen formation. The overall effect is an improvement in the skin texture.
As chemical peel remodels skin collagen, it improves fine wrinkles making skin appear younger. Chemical peel also controls acne breakouts and attenuate acne scars. Skin pigmentation, such as melasma, can be lightened with chemical peels, too.
They say chemical peel causes thinning of the skin, is that true?
Chemical peels thin and thicken your skin at the same time, but in the right places. It thins the skin where it is supposed to be thin, the outer layer of dead skin cells (epidermis) and signal the dermis to start producing more collagen and elastin as a result increasing its density. All of which result in the outer skin layer looking more youthful, with fewer fine lines, wrinkles and skin discolouration.
There are so many kinds of chemical peel so what’s the difference?
Peeling can be classified according to depth
- Very superficial: removing the stratum corneum (depth = 0.06 mm);
- Superficial: causing epidermal exfoliation of the granular layer up until the basal layer (depth = 0.45 mm);
- Medium: reaching the papillary dermis (depth = 0.6 mm)
- Deep: reaching the midreticular dermis (depth = 0.8 mm).
The deeper the peelings, the more apparent the results— however risks and discomfort in the period after the procedure also increase. In normal practice, most patients are only required very superficial to superficial chemical peels. They include alpha-hydroxy acid (AHAs), beta-hydroxy acid (BHAs), trichloroacetic acid (TCA). glycolic acid, salicylic acid etc.
How do I know if I am suitable for chemical peeling?
Doctors will usually take a thorough history from the degree of sun exposure, treatment with Vitamin A derived product to any tendency for developing keloids and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation and individualise the treatment plan accordingly.
Anything I should do before and after peeling?
Care with exposure to the sun is essential. Sunscreens with high SPF and moisturizers are indicated both before and after the treatment.
Should I be worried if I feel burning sensation after chemical peeling?
The most noticeable side effects are mild irritation and a slight burning sensation but with adequate neutralisers the skin rarely burns. When performed by an experienced doctor, the risk of burn is very small. Should there be any concern or worry, you should promptly seek for your doctor’s advice.