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Chemical Peel Q&A with Dr. Zhu

Many men and women are seeking an anti-aging procedure that is impactful, wallet-friendly, and has minimal downtime. If those three conditions appeal to you, then a chemical peel might be your perfect solution. Peels are a staple of any anti-aging routine. This month, Dr. Zhu is sharing the ins and outs of chemical peels so that you can decide if this tried and true anti-aging treatment is right for you.


What is a chemical peel?

A chemical peel is exactly what it sounds like: a cosmetic resurfacing procedure that causes the outermost layer of the skin to peel. Peels are like supercharged exfoliants that reveal fresh, vibrant, smoother skin after a few days of healing.

There are several types of chemical peels for both home and in-office use. At-home peels are much gentler than in-office peels, so they don’t offer the same results. Chemical peels help treat fine lines and wrinkles, uneven skin tone, dark spots, sun damage, and even melasma.

Brentwood Dermatology offers two types of anti-aging resurfacing procedures: Fraxel Repair CO2 laser treatments and glycolic acid peels. Patients who opt for a laser treatment need to take a full week off of work to heal, but glycolic acid peels are an excellent option for people who want a less aggressive treatment with minimal downtime.


What is a glycolic acid peel?

Glycolic acid is an acid in the alpha hydroxyl (AHA) family, and it is derived from sugar cane. Other alpha hydroxy acids are lactic acid, malic acid, and citric acid.

Chemical peels usually come in three different levels: superficial, medium, and deep. In-office glycolic acid is a medium peel, which means that it affects the upper and middle layers of skin. Deep chemical peels are done under sedation and reach fully into the middle layer of skin, requiring significant downtime to heal.


What should you expect at your appointment?

Before your chemical peel appointment, you’ll have a planning visit with one of our dermatologists. Usually, patients use a pre-peel product such as a retinoid (tretinoin), or a low-dose acid if they don’t tolerate a retinoid well. The pre-peel regimen helps patients get better results and a more even peel. However, patients will need to stop using their retinoid the night before their peel appointment.

Chemical peels are usually suitable for patients of any skin tone, unlike CO2 lasers, which are only suitable for those with fair skin. However, people with darker skin tones are more prone to hyperpigmentation, so they may need to use hydroquinone as part of their pre-peel regimen. Without it, they may experience uneven healing.

During the peel, a dermatologist will apply a layer of glycolic acid to the skin and then remove it a few minutes later. Patients don’t usually experience any discomfort from glycolic acid.

Initially, patients may be a little pink and puffy while they peel for three to five days. Patients who choose to wear makeup can do so the day following treatment. There’s no need to take time off of work to heal.

It’s very important that patients diligently wear sunscreen for at least a week (but you should be using sunscreen daily to prevent fine lines, wrinkles, and skin cancer!). Those who will be spending more than a few minutes outdoors should also wear hats and stick to the shade, as skin is very sensitive and more prone to sun damage immediately following a peel.


What are the typical results of a chemical peel?

Chemical peels attack fine lines, wrinkles, dark spots, and other pigmentation a little bit at a time. Patients should not expect to look as though they had a facelift following a peel, but you should see a noticeable improvement in skin texture and tone.

Since peels work slowly and gently, it often takes a sequence of treatments for patients to reach their desired results. Within three to six peels, the majority of patients have achieved their goal result and can then reduce the frequency of their peels to simply maintain their fresh, bright skin.


Is it time for you to schedule an appointment for a chemical peel?

If you know that you want to make a change in your skin, but you’re not sure where to start, schedule a consultation appointment at Brentwood Dermatology. We’ll discuss your areas of concern and the amount of downtime you prefer so that we can create your ideal treatment plan.

Let’s start working on an even, beautiful, youthful complexion today!


Learn More About Brentwood Dermatology.

The trusted physicians at Brentwood Dermatology can assist you with all of your general, surgical, and cosmetic dermatology needs. If you would like to learn more about our services or schedule an appointment, visit our website or give us a call at (615) 377-3448.

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