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Chemical peels rejuvenate outer layers of skin to smooth texture, reduce scarring, and remove discoloration and age spots, to produce healthy, evenly-colored glowing skin. There are several types of chemical peels, ranging from mild to strong – alphahydroxy acids (AHAs) and trichloroacetic acid (TCA). Formula strengths are tailored to each patient. Peels can be combined with other procedures such as ultherapy. They may be covered by insurance if they are performed for medical rather than cosmetic reasons.

Types of Chemical Peels

AHAs are the most gentle of the chemical peels. They consist of a group of glycolic, lactic and fruit acids that smooth and brighten skin by treating fine wrinkles, dryness, uneven pigmentation and acne. AHAs are typically applied once a week, or may be mixed in a milder concentration with a cream or cleanser to be used daily; treatment takes 10 minutes or less. Occasionally AHAs, Retin-A (a prescription medication containing Vitamin A) or hydroquinone (a bleaching cream) can be used to thin the skin and even its tone as a pre-treatment for TCA peels.

TCAs are commonly used for medium-depth peeling (though depth is adjustable) to treat fine surface wrinkles, superficial blemishes, and pigment problems, sometimes in combination with AHAs. TCAs are the preferred chemical solution for darker-skinned patients and may be used on the neck and other areas of the body. Multiple treatments may be required, but treatments only last 10-15 minutes and recovery time is short; in some instances, there is no downtime at all.

The Procedure

For any peel, the skin is cleaned and the solution applied; there is no need for “after-peel” ointment or covering. There may be a brief stinging sensation, which will be neutralized with water.

After the Procedure

Peels can cause temporary stinging, redness, irritation and/or flaking or crusting.