Chemical Peel Risks

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Most of us have heard of the dangers of chemical peels; how people seek treatment for the after effects of chemical peels. This prompts us to question whether or not chemical peels are a safe way to address skin problems like scars left by acne, pigmentation, sunburns etc.[sws_pullquote_right]“When these acid peels are used at home, it is even more important to be informed of the right methods to have a safe chemical peeling.” [/sws_pullquote_right]

The risks of using superficial chemical peels are minimal, and side effects are rare and usually temporary. The most popular peels available in market today work by burning off the outer layers of the skin leaving the new inner layers exposed. Thus, the scarred outer layers are removed allowing it to be replaced with fresh new clear skin. The active ingredient in any chemical peel is usually an acid.

Skin Laboratory only offers hydroxy acid peels, which are the safest of all chemical peels. There are more intense chemical peels on the market, but Skin Laboratory does not offer them because they require downtime.

Examples of such peels are trichloroacetic acid (TCA) and Phenol peels. These also lead to swelling, scabbing and flaking of the skin. These deeper peels run more risk of hypopigmentation that is some lightening of the facial skin, which may make the facial skin look lighter than the neck.

It can also be associated with hyperpigmentation or brownish discoloration particularly if someone gets into the sun too soon after the chemical peel has been performed. In general it is recommended that sun be avoided for 3 weeks following any type of chemical peel.  If you have to go out in the sun, always use sunscreen with at least an SPF of 30.

Using Good Judgement

Home peels are preferred these days as it is economical and easy for self-application. These acids have the property to burn anything that they come in contact with. Care should be taken to keep it out of sensitive areas like eyes, mouth etc.

Also, a person’s skin’s response to these acids can vary from one to another. Some skins may be very sensitive to certain acids, while others may not. It is very important to always start from lower concentrations or peel strength and slowly build it up as you learn that your skin is tolerant. It is recommended to do a patch testing in a small area of the skin to start with. If you learn that your skin is tolerant, then you can proceed with the peel.

When these acid peels are used at home, it is even more important to be informed of the right methods to have a safe chemical peeling.

Superficial peels are quite safe although rarely minor irritation of the skin can occur. The risks of deeper peels include infection, scarring, redness, and discoloration. You should watch out for crusting or extreme weeping which could occur in AHA peels. Although sometimes this could be normal, there is a borderline appearance that you must be aware of. Inquire from a skincare specialist about what specific things to look out for.

Usually, in about 3 to 4 days, a typical AHA peel would look and feel normal at this time. For peels that are more intense, down time may take weeks and complete recovery may take about a few months. Furthermore, during a deep peel, anesthesia must be used and vital signs must be monitored throughout the procedure.

Significant complications with chemical peels are rare, but include scarring, infection, temporary or permanent changes in skin tone and cold sore breakouts in patients who have a history of recurring blisters and cold sores, like herpes and shingles. (An antiviral medication before the procedure can help prevent this.) You can help minimize certain risks by following instructions both before and after your Chemical Peel. Pre-existing conditions may also put you at risk.

Safety of Skin Laboratory’s Salicylic Peels

The depth of a chemical peel is affected by several factors. In addition to the strength of the peeling agent (Salicylic acid 20%, 8%, etc.), there are many other factors that affect the depth of peel including the presence of skin surface oils and dirt, chemical peel solution, length of time the solution is left in contact with the skin, and occlusion or non occlusion.

You will find our Salicylic Acid peel to be extremely gentle on the skin, even more so than an 8% solution sold by other companies. Most sellers use an alcohol solvent to suspend the Salicylic acid in solution. This has the effect of stripping away the surface oils of the skin, and cause the peel to be much harsher. Because salicylic acid is lipid-soluble, it is not necessary to strip away these surface oils with the alcohol solution, and in the process sensitize the skin and cause irritation.

We use propylene glycol as a solvent that is very gentle on the skin, and allows us to provide a peel which is both gentler and with a higher concentration. This allows our peels to be more effective than peels containing 8% or 10% Salicylic Acid.

All this means you will notice results faster, and require fewer peels to achieve the same results. This does not mean “more” is always better… we do not recommend above use of a 30% solution outside of medical guidance. Each skin is slightly different, and it is important to be aware of this. If you notice excessive redness or burning on the skin after applying a peel, you should rinse it off immediately.