Exfoliation is the skin’s process of continually shedding old cells and replacing them with new cells. Chemical peels basically force exfoliation of the outer, dull layers of skin, encouraging its replacement with younger, more vibrant skin. At Dr. Altamira’s, we use chemical peels to reduce fine lines and wrinkles, improve uneven pigmentation, refine large pores, and improve skin texture.
What are chemical peels?
In humans, our skin is our largest organ. Our skin consists of three layers: the epidermis, the dermis, and the fat layer. Unlike most of our other organs, our skin is constantly exposed to the environment, damaged by the sun, wind, and other environmental factors such as pollution and personal choices such as smoking. To overcome the damage, our skin is constantly shedding cells, with our entire epidermis replacing itself about once every month.
Chemical peels simply give this exfoliation a little help to accelerate the process. By applying a chemical to the face that makes the outer layers peel, younger, healthier skin cells replace the older, damaged skin. In the process, age spots, acne scars, fine lines, dead skin cells, and other skin imperfections are peeled away.
Benefits of Chemical Peels
Chemical peels vary by the peeling agent. Dr. Altamira offers light and medium peels. These are skin conditions we address:
- Sun damage
- Skin texture problems
- Fine lines and wrinkles
- Acne scars
- Scaly patches
- Uneven pigmentation
- Age spots
Am I a good candidate for a chemical peels?
Basically anyone would benefit from a chemical peel to remove dull, damaged skin cells. However, if you have deeper lines and creases, the chemical peels we offer aren’t aggressive enough to address those. Procedures such as dermabrasion or laser resurfacing, or the use of dermal fillers would probably offer better solutions.
Types of chemical peels
Chemical peels are divided into three categories, based on their depth. There are light/superficial, medium, and deep peels. At Dr. Altamira’s, we do not perform deep peels.
Light chemical peels
Light chemical peels are excellent for exfoliating the outermost layer of the epidermis, removing dead and damaged skin cells and returning a glow to the skin. For these chemical peels, the peeling agents are natural in origin. These acids are in the alpha-hydroxy family: glycolic acid, lactic acid, and salicyclic acid. These acids come from sources such as sugar cane, citrus, grapes, or sugar beets for glycolic acid; sour milk for lactic acid; or other plants for salicyclic acid. At Dr. Altamira’s, we generally prefer to use glycolic acid as the peeling agent.
After your first few light peels, your skin may have some redness and irritation, but as your skin becomes more exfoliated this will pass and your skin will simply glow after your peel. Because light peels are superficial in their penetration, they can be done on a regular basis to keep your skin looking its best; there is no limit to how many light peels a person can have.
Medium chemical peels
We also offer more aggressive peels that require some recovery. Medium-depth peels penetrate more deeply, into the dermis layer. We use them to treat acne scars, deeper wrinkles, and uneven pigmentation. The peeling agent with our medium peels is trichloroacetic acid.
Unlike superficial peels, which really don’t require any recovery, there will be some recovery with a medium peel. They leave the skin red and stinging, and there will be some crusting. Facial redness can linger for up to a few weeks. You can have three or four medium peels in a year. Think of it as basically one per season.
Chemical Peels Procedure
The first step in your peel is to thoroughly cleanse your skin. This removes makeup, residual lotion, and such. We then apply the glycolic acid to your skin with a sponge. The glycolic acid is left on your skin from 2-7 minutes. The entire time, we are watching to see how the skin is responding. The peeling agent penetrates the skin and breaks down the bonds that hold each layer together. Once we feel the reaction is effective, we neutralize the glycolic acid with water, clean your skin, and apply lotion.
For medium peels, both the peeling agent and the duration change. We look for a more aggressive reaction to create greater exfoliation.
Chemical Peels Recovery
Chemical peels are basically forced exfoliation. Because of that, your skin will have some redness and be somewhat tender after your peel. The degree depends on how aggressive the peel was. With a light peel, your face will feel a little dry, as if you have a light sunburn. With a medium peel, it will feel more like a medium sunburn. You will only have light flaking in the days following a glycolic peel. With a medium peel, you will have flaking and some crusting as the skin recovers. There aren’t any side effects with either peel; both are considered very safe.
How long will my results last?
The skin that is exfoliated is gone for good. But, of course, your new skin will again be subject to damage from the sun and other factors. The peels we perform at Dr. Altamira’s are not considered overly aggressive. That’s why glycolic peels can be done monthly to keep your skin fresh. Deeper medium peels can be done quarterly.
Schedule a consultation
If you are interested in Chemical Peel treatments, and would like to see if you are a good candidate, call (713) 271-9000 to schedule a consultation. Dr. Altamira has plastic surgery offices located in Houston and Sugar Land, Texas.