Chemical Peels: Not Actually Scary

By Jenna Trubschenck, PA-C

Melting Face

Frequently when I am doing cosmetic consults and mention that I think a chemical peel would be beneficial, I get a look of horror. I have tried to picture what my patients are thinking when they make this horrified expression. Maybe they are thinking of that scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark where the guy’s face melts off? Or maybe they are thinking about how Harvey Dent from Batman became known as “Two-face”? Despite the bad rep it may get from the big screen, many of Hollywood’s celebrities don’t shy away when it comes to chemical peels. They know that chemical peels actually have a lot of cosmetic benefits.

Benefits of chemical peels include:
Diminishes fine lines and wrinkles, especially around the eyes and mouth
Can diminish the crepey texture of skin
Brightens dull complexions
Evens skin tone
Lightens dark spots and melasma
Tightens pores
Reduces acne and acne scars
Enhances collagen production

Even with aggressive peels, skin will not “melt” or peel off like a piece of fruit. Generally speaking, the response looks like a sunburn and some flaking (however, it can vary based on the type and strength of chemical peel – make sure you talk with your dermatology provider about specific expectations). Chemical peels will cause the outer most layers of skin to slough off. The newer skin underneath has a healing response that is activated by the sloughing, thus collagen is stimulated, and pigment and texture is improved.

Not all chemical peels are created equal. The type of chemical peel that is best suited for you depends on your skin type, desired result, and desired downtime. Not all chemical peels even require downtime. There are many types of chemical peels – it is best to consult with your dermatology provider to figure out which would be the best for your skin. For best results, we typically recommend chemical peels to be done in a series of three or more, and then every so often for maintenance.

There are some at-home chemical peels available over the counter; however, the ones that you will find in your dermatology office will yield more results and usually last longer. Chemical peels can sometimes be aggressive and, if done incorrectly, can have undesired results, so it is important you have your dermatology provider preform procedures such as chemical peels.

Wherever you are on life’s spectrum, you are unlikely to be too young or too old to refresh and maintain your skin. I submit to you that chemical peels are not actually scary, but a really great approach to refreshing and revitalizing your skin.

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