What is a Chemical Peel?
A chemical peel is a non-invasive procedure that uses a solution applied to the skin to improve a variety of imperfections and sun damage. The solution usually has lower pH, causing the to skin react and exfoliate. This process stimulates new fresh skin cells, creating smoother skin with less discoloration. Depending on the type of peel and how deep the solution penetrates, fine lines, acne, and acne scars will also improve.
Chemical peels are one of the most popular cosmetic procedures used in dermatology because they are effective and affordable. The downtime is minimal and safe for patients as long as the person performing the peel is a doctor, physician assistant, nurse, or licensed aesthetician, working under the supervision of a dermatologist.
What are the Benefits of a Chemical Peel?
- Improves texture and uneven skin tone
- Gives the skin a “glow”
- Helps to reduce sun damage
- Acne scars (as long as they are not deep or ice pick scars)
- Fine lines and wrinkles
Chemical Peels for Acne
In dermatology we believe the right chemical peel can be incredibly helpful for acne by loosening the dead skin and oil build up on the skin through exfoliation. Exfoliated skin helps to relieve trapped oil from clogging pores contributing to break outs. Exfoliation also helps topical products including acne medications to penetrate better for more effective treatment. This combined with your treatment plan and having some patience will help improve your skin much better than without treatment for the right patient.
What Chemical Peel is Best for Acne?
The answer is it depends. The type of acne, your skin type, and age all help determine what type of chemical peel is best for you. Glycolic acid (AHA) is often a good place to start, especially in younger skin because it’s gentle enough to use with home care treatments causing minimal flaking.
Salicylic acid (BHA) is widely used for acne prone skin and can be very beneficial, but it’s not for all skin types. Your dermatologist will help determine what is best for you.
One question we get a lot is can this be covered by insurance? Some insurance companies will approve a limited number of glycolic acid treatments. We recommend checking with your insurance carrier to know if you qualify to be sure. We do successfully bill insurance for younger acne patients.
Types of Chemical Peels
Chemical Peels are classified by light, medium, and deep peels. The type of ingredient, percentage and pH are all factors in how deep it can penetrate. This doesn’t always correlate to how much peeling you’ll get, although the stronger the peel the more likely you will peel. The amount of peeling is individual. The chart provides some insight into how chemical peels work:
|Light Chemical Peel||Medium Chemical Peel|
Glycolic acid peels gently exfoliate the outer layer of the skin to expose healthier skin beneath. Once exfoliated the skin looks more luminous because the dead surface layer has been removed. This peel is ideal for skin that is acne prone, and also help with hyperpigmentation, or anyone looking for brighter, fresh looking skin.
Glycolic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA), derived from naturally occurring sugar cane. Professional peel solutions used in a dermatologists office have a much higher percentage of glycolic acid vs. what can be found in home care or over the counter peel preparations.
The SkinMedica Vitalize peel is a great all around peel that targets sun damage, pigmentation, and textural issues. It can also help with mild acne scarring done in a series. Different than glycolic acid, the Vitalize Peel uses a blend of lactic acid, salicylic acid, resorcinol, finished with retinoic acid.
The Vitalize Peel is stronger than the glycolic acid we use in the office, penetrating deeper into the skin, but still considered a light peel. After just one treatment you will notice an improvement in your skin’s texture and tone, resulting in a youthful glow. For best results, a series of 3 or more treatments is generally recommended.
The Rejuvenize Peel has a higher concentration of the same ingredients used in the Vitalize Peel. Considered a medium depth peel, this is a great option for patients who have sun damage, lines, wrinkles and have done a series of Vitalize Peels. This peel can produce the most exfoliation substantially improving the appearance of the skin. Most patients experience a few days of peeling, or heavy flaking, with mild redness like a sunburn.
What to Expect During a Chemical Peel
First, your face is thoroughly cleansed then the the peel is applied to the skin. You may feel a stinging sensation upon application that lasts briefly. The peel is allowed to penetrate for a specified period of time before the treatment is finished. The appointment is quick, taking 15 to 30 minutes. The number of chemical peels to achieve the desired results vary, one peel can make a difference but work best in a series of 3 to 6.
After Your Chemical Peel
As your fresh skin emerges, you may notice some flaking or dryness in the treated areas. Medium depth peels like the Rejuvenation Peel can peel your skin. You will be given post peel instructions that are important to follow. You should avoid sun exposure and use sun protection when outside at all times.
The Beauty of Experience
Dr. Michalak is a board certified dermatologist, dermatologic surgeon, and cosmetic surgeon. With close to 30 years experience, his expertise has helped patients with some of the most challenging skin conditions. He was trained at Cornell University Medical College and completed his Clinical Internship and Dermatology Residency at the renowned Mayo Clinic. He is also a member of the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), ASDS, and ASLAMS.
Leslie Carney, Licensed Master Aesthetician performs all of the chemical peel services in the office. Leslie works closely with Dr. Michalak in creating each treatment plan with the patients, lifestyle, goals and budget in mind. Her approach is to start slow and build into bigger treatments if necessary. She has years of experience and is an expert in aesthetics, honing her skills through numerous advanced trainings, ongoing coaching from Dr. Michalak and a background in women’s health.
Learn More by Scheduling a Consultation
Think a peel might be right for you? The next step is to schedule a consultation and be evaluated. Your consultation will determine if a chemical peel is the right for you, provide a treatment plan and pricing. Appointments can be made by calling 425-391-2500.