Chemical peel uses a chemical solution to improve and smooth the texture of the facial skin by removing its damaged outer layers. It is helpful for those individuals with facial blemishes, wrinkles and uneven skin pigmentation. Phenol mixed with croton oil; trichloroacetic acid (TCA); and alphahydroxy acids (AHAs) are used for this purpose. The precise formula used is adjusted to meet each patient's needs. Although chemical peel may be performed in conjunction with a facelift, it is not a substitute for such surgery, nor will it prevent or slow the aging process.
Deciding if chemical peel is right for you: A chemical peel is most commonly performed for cosmetic reasons -- to enhance your appearance and your self confidence. Chemical peel may also remove pre-cancerous skin growths or provide some smoothing of acne facial scars.
Alphahydroxy acids (AHAs), such as glycolic, lactic, or fruit acids, are the mildest of the peel formulas and produce light peels. These types of peels can provide smoother, brighter-looking skin for people who can't spare the time to recover from a phenol or TCA peel.
Trichloroacetic acid (TCA) can be used in many concentrations, but it is most commonly used for medium-depth peeling. Fine surface wrinkles, superficial blemishes and pigment problems are commonly treated with TCA. The results of TCA peel are usually less dramatic than and not as long-lasting as those of a phenol peel.
Phenol plus croton oil is the strongest of the chemical solutions and produces a deep peel. It is used mainly to treat patients with coarse facial wrinkles and areas of blotchy or damaged skin caused by sun exposure. This peel not uncommonly causes some loss of skin pigment, the visibility of which is minimized by performing the peel on an entire facial region, such as the cheek, eyelids, forehead, nose, or region around the mouth, each of which has a slightly different color and texture.
All chemical peels carry some uncertainty and risk. Chemical peel is normally a safe procedure when it is performed by a qualified, experienced plastic surgeon. However, there is a certain degree of unpredictability, and there is some risk of infection and, uncommonly, scarring.
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