Dead skin can give the face a dull appearance and make you appear older than your actual age. Removing dead skin cells becomes more difficult with each passing year, which is why you may require a chemical peel to eliminate them. Chemical peels are safely performed on Canton, Cleveland and Akron-area patients at Carp Cosmetic Surgery Center in Green and Beachwood, OH.
What are Chemical Peels?
Chemical peels involve the use of a chemical solution to soften the texture of your face by removing outer layers of skin that are dead or damaged. This is a good solution for people struggling with wrinkles, uneven pigmentation, and blemishes. Chemical peels range from medium to deep, depending on your specific needs. Dr. Carp utilizes a variety of chemical peels, such as the Illuminize®, Obagi® Blue, and Vitalize® peels.
Chemical peels are typically done for aesthetic purposes. However, they can also be used to eliminate precancerous growths on the skin, control acne, and minimize the appearance of acne scars. In certain cases, insurance may cover the costs of these treatments. It’s recommended you contact your carrier before scheduling a treatment.
What Are the Different Types of Chemical Peels?
Alphahydroxy acids (AHAs), such as lactic, glycolic, and fruit acids, are among the gentlest formulas and provide a light peel. These chemical peels offer a brighter, smoother complexion for patients who can’t set aside the time needed to recover from harsher peels. AHA chemical peels can be used for fine lines, patches of dry skin, acne, and blotchiness. Different potencies of AHA may be applied each week or less often to ensure optimal results. During your consultation, Dr. Carp will determine which potency is right for you. Alphahydroxy acids may also be blended with a facial cream or wash in small concentrations for use in your daily skincare routine. This will help enhance your skin’s overall texture.
Trichloroacetic acid (TCA) is available in several concentrations, but it’s most often used for medium-depth chemical peels. Fine lines, pigmentation issues, and surface blemishes are usually treated using TCA. The results of this type of chemical peel are often less dramatic and shorter-lived than those provided by phenol peels. In many cases, several TCA peels may be required to obtain the results you want. However, patients tend to recover from TCA peels more quickly than phenol peels.
Phenol peels are the strongest form of chemical peel and are used for deep treatments. These are used mainly for patients who struggle with significant wrinkles, sun-damaged skin, blotchiness, and precancerous skin growths. Because phenol has the ability to lighten skin color, your degree of pigmentation can determine if this peel is the right option for you. Phenol is typically only applied to the face, as scarring may result on other areas of the body.
Chemical Peel Risks
All chemicals peels present some risks. These procedures are usually safe when done by a qualified and experienced plastic surgeon such as Dr. Carp. That said, some of the rare but potential risks of chemical peels include infections and scarring.
With AHA peels, patients may experience irritation, stinging sensations, crusting, and redness. As skin becomes used to the treatments, these issues will diminish.
With TCA peels, your skin will be able to produce pigment normally once it has healed. TCA does not bleach skin. However, patients who receive TCA peels are strongly advised to avoid sun exposure for several months afterward to protect fresh skin from damage. Although TCA is gentler than phenol, some patients may experience undesirable changes in skin color.
Phenol peels often cause skin to lose its ability to produce pigment. This means that your skin will be lighter, but you’ll also have to constantly protect it from sunlight. Phenol presents an elevated risk for individuals who have heart disease. For this reason, it’s critical to let Dr. Carp know if you have a history of heart problems when he’s taking your medical history.
Phenol can also produce unwanted aesthetic side effects, such as uneven changes in pigmentation. Certain types of modified phenol peels are milder and are preferred in certain cases.
Planning for a Chemical Peel
Some states do not require a medical degree to perform chemical peels. Indeed, many areas have laws allowing people who are not doctors to administer certain chemical peels, so long as the potencies of them are controlled. It’s important to know that TCA and phenol peels are sometimes advertised by inexperienced and untrained physicians who claim to have miraculous techniques for revitalizing your skin.
For best results, make sure your chemical peel is performed only by a highly experienced and trained doctor such as Dr. Carp. He will let you choose between different peel techniques or recommend a combination of them to help you achieve the results you want.
During your first consultation with Dr. Carp, you’re encouraged to let him know what you expect from the treatment. If you have any questions or concerns regarding your chemical peel, he will be more than happy to address them for you. Dr. Carp will describe the details of the procedure, including the benefits, cost, and expected recovery time. If you currently have or have had herpes, it’s important to let Dr. Carp know about this before your treatment. Remember, insurance will not typically cover the cost of chemical peels unless they’re done for legitimate medical issues, such as precancerous growths.
Preparing for Your Chemical Peel
Dr. Carp will provide you with detailed instructions on preparing for your chemical peel.
In some cases, Retin-A, a substance derived from vitamin A, may be used to pre-treat your skin. It helps make the topmost layer of skin thinner, which allows the TCA to penetrate your skin more deeply and evenly. If your skin does not respond well to this treatment, you may be given an AHA cream instead. A bleaching agent called hydroquinone may be used alongside Retin-A or AHA pre-treatments, particularly if you have pigmentation issues on your skin. You may require one month or longer of this pre-treatment before you can receive your chemical peel.
If you’re undergoing a phenol or deep TCA chemical peel, you must have someone available to take you home and assist you for one to two days. If you’re having an AHA or superficial TCA chemical peel, you likely won’t require any assistance.
Types of Anesthesia
No anesthesia is required for AHA chemical peels because patients typically only experience a mild stinging feeling during the procedure. Anesthesia is also not necessary during TCA or phenol peels because the chemicals themselves feature anesthetic properties. However, you may be sedated prior to and during your treatment to ensure that you’re comfortable and relaxed.
The Chemical Peel
AHA Peels: Once your face has been cleaned, Dr. Carp will apply the AHA solution, which normally takes only 10 minutes. You will not need an “after-peel” ointment or covering. Depending on the peel’s strength, maintenance treatments may be required until you’ve obtained the results you want.
For some people, an AHA facial cream or wash used at home one to two times per day will be enough to achieve the desired results. Dr. Carp may also recommend Retin-A or a bleaching agent to add to your home treatment routine. After several weeks of this, Dr. Carp will evaluate your skin to determine whether adjustments are necessary.
TCA and Phenol Peels: Dr. Carp will cleanse your face thoroughly before applying the TCA or phenol solution to your skin. It’s common to experience a stinging sensation when it’s being applied, but that feeling should go away quickly.
Full-face TCA peels generally take less than 15 minutes. Two or more treatments may be required to achieve the results you want, and these can be done over several months. Mild TCA peels can be done as frequently as once per month.
For phenol chemical peels, Dr. Carp may apply petroleum jelly or waterproof adhesive tape to the treated areas. This is not necessary for light peels.
A full-face phenol treatment usually takes between one and two hours, but for smaller areas of the face, the duration may only be 10 to 15 minutes. One treatment is usually enough for most patients.
After Your Treatment
Temporary scaling, redness, flaking, and dryness of the skin is common after an AHA chemical peel. However, these issues will resolve on their own once your skin gets used to the treatment. After a TCA or phenol peel, Dr. Carp may prescribe medication to help with any discomfort you may experience. If your face was covered with waterproof tape following your treatment, it would be removed a couple of days later. You should expect a scab or crust to develop on the areas that were treated. To ensure optimal healing, it’s important to adhere strictly to the post-procedural instructions provided by Dr. Carp.
After a phenol peel, you may notice significant facial swelling. Some patients may even have their eye swell closed temporarily. For this reason, it’s strongly recommended to have a trusted friend or loved one stay with you for the first day or two after your treatment. You may also be restricted to a liquids-only diet and cautioned against moving around or speaking too much for the first few days following the procedure.
How Much Do Chemical Peels Cost?
Chemical peels are considered to be elective, so most insurance providers won’t cover the costs. To help make chemical peels affordable and accessible for everyone, Carp Cosmetic Surgery Center offers financing options. We also accept cash, personal checks, and major credit cards.
Getting Back to Normal
After an AHA peel, the dryness, redness, and flaking that develops will not interfere with your ability to work or go about your normal routine. With continued treatments, you can enjoy a fresh, improved skin texture. Remember, it’s critical to protect your skin from sunlight after these treatments. Ask Dr. Carp to suggest a sunscreen that offers sufficient UVA and UVB protection, and be sure to use it daily.
After a TCA peel, any discomfort and swelling you experience will go away in the first week after treatment. After one week to 10 days, your new skin will become noticeable, and you should have recovered enough to resume your regular activities. However, it’s recommended to avoid sun exposure unless adequate protection is used.
For phenol peels, your new skin will start forming in approximately seven to 10 days. There will be significant redness initially, but it will gradually give way to a pinkish color in the proceeding weeks and months. During this period, it’s important to apply sunscreen, or you may develop irregular skin pigmentation.
You can return to work and resume some of your regular activities after about two weeks. Your skin will also be recovered enough that you may apply makeup.
Chemical peels are safe, so long as they are performed by a reputable physician such as Dr. Steven Carp, a board-certified plastic surgeon located in Green and Beachwood, OH. To schedule a chemical peel, patients in Akron, Canton, Cleveland, and the surrounding areas should contact Carp Cosmetic Surgery Center.