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m david cole_chemical peelChemical peels are among the most popular minimally invasive cosmetic procedures in the country, and will likely continue to be in our increasingly digital world that revolves around media such as selfies and live video. That is because chemical peels improve the look and feel of skin, making it more even colored and refreshed. If you’re considering trying it out, here’s what you need to know:

What Is a Chemical Peel?

A chemical peel is a broad term used to describe a procedure in which a chemical solution is applied to the skin and later removed (or peeled off, hence the name) along with the layers of the skin, to reveal a fresher layer. How long the chemicals are left on the face and how much is removed depends on the type of peel requested. There are three basic ones, which I’ve explained below:

Types of Chemical Peels:

  1. Superficial Peels:
    Superficial peels are also referred to lunchtime peels because they are require the least amount of downtime and include a very simple process. Containing alpha-hydroxy a salicylic acid (found in many over the counter acne medicines), superficial peels only penetrate the skin’s outer layer and are good for individuals whose goal is gentle exfoliation or smooth skin.
  2. Medium Peels:
    Just as the name suggests, medium peels are a step above the superficial peel, removing not just the outer layer but the middle layer of skin as well. The chemical used in a medium peel is most often glycolic or trichloroacetic acid ( also known as TCH), which is good for anti-aging and improving fine lines and wrinkles. Whereas the downtime for a superficial peel is between one and seven days, medium peels require a recovery period ranging from one to two weeks.
  3. Deep Peels:
    Deep peels penetrate the middle layer of skin, using a stronger concentration of the TCH chemical than that used for medium peels, or phenol. Deep peels fight aging in the skin as well, improving deep lines and wrinkles, and the skin’s overall texture. Because of the seriousness of the procedure, deep visits usually require follow up with your doctor and a downtime of up to three weeks.

For more information on potential side effects and aftercare, visit the Horizon Dermatology and Laser Institute website.