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What is chemical peel?
A chemical peel is a solution applied to the face to remove dead skin cells and stimulate the growth of new cells. The new skin is usually smoother and less wrinkled than the old skin. The aim is to improve the appearance of the skin – for example, by reducing age spots and evening out skin tone.
Before You Get a Chemical Peel
Tell your therapist if you have any history of scarring, cold sores that keep coming back, or facial X-rays. Before you get a chemical peel, your therapist may ask you to stop taking certain drugs and prepare your skin by using other medications, such as Retin-A, Renova, or glycolic acid.
Reduce fine lines
Treat wrinkles caused by sun damage and aging
Improve the appearance of mild scars
Treat certain types of acne
Reduce age spots, freckles, and dark patches (melasma) due to pregnancy or taking birth control pills
Improve the look and feel of skin
Areas of sun damage may improve after chemical peeling.
How Chemical Peels Are Done
The professional who does your peel will first clean your skin thoroughly. Then they will apply one or more chemical solutions -- such as glycolic acid, trichloroacetic acid, salicylic acid, lactic acid, or carbolic acid (phenol) -- to small areas of your skin.
During a chemical peel, most people feel a burning sensation that lasts about five to ten minutes, followed by a stinging sensation. Putting cool compresses on the skin may ease that stinging. You may need pain medication during or after a deeper peel.
What To Expect After the Chemical Peel
Depending upon the type of chemical peel, a reaction similar to sunburn occurs following the procedure. Peeling usually involves redness followed by scaling that ends within three to seven days. Mild peels may be repeated at one to four-week intervals until you get the look you're after.
After a chemical peel, skin is temporarily more sensitive to the sun, so wear sunscreen every day. It should say "broad-spectrum" on the label, meaning it protects against the sun's UVA and UVB rays. Also, it should be a physical sunscreen and be above SPF 30. Limit your time in the sun, especially between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., and wear a wide-brimmed hat.
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