What is a chemical peel?
A chemical peel involves applying a solution to the skin in order to cause the outer damaged layers of skin to slough away. This will leave you with younger, smoother, glowing and more evenly pigmented skin.
What sort of chemical peels are there?
We classify chemical peels according to the depth at which they work.
- Light peels most commonly use Alpha- and Beta-Hydroxy Acids (such as Glycolic Acid, Lactic Acid, Malic Acid, L-Ascorbic Acid or Salicylic Acid). Different brands of peel use different combinations of these acids. These peels involve minimal discomfort and minimal downtime – a typical ‘lunchtime’ treatment. We recommend a course of 6 peels spaced 2 weeks apart for maximum results.
- Medium peels usually use TCA (trichloroacetic acid). These peels have the same benefits as light peels, but remove cells from slightly deeper layers of the skin, having more dramatic effects on sun-damaged skin and pigmentation problems. They can feel slightly more uncomfortable than a light peel, and may involve some downtime.
- Deep peels usually involve phenol. These peels should be performed under anaesthesia in a surgical environment. We do not offer these peels at Illuminate Skin Clinics as we feel the risks of damage to the skin structure are too great, given the excellent results we can achieve with light and medium peels.
What brands of peel do you use?
At Illuminate Skin Clinics we will determine the best peel for you following an in depth consultation. We use Obagi, IS Clinical Skin Tech and Agera peels.
What skin conditions can be treated with chemical peels?
Chemical peels are a useful part of most skincare regimes, and can even be used to give your skin a red carpet glow for a special occasion. The following conditions in particular can benefit from chemical peels:
- Fine lines and wrinkles
- Sun damage
- Inflammatory acne
- Pigmentation problems (such as melasma or freckles)
- Dry and dehydrated skin
Is there a difference between the chemical peels you offer and those offered by beauticians?
As medical practitioners we are trained to perform deeper levels of peel which can achieve much more noticeable results than those offered by beauty therapists.
Will my chemical peel hurt?
Most people experience a mild to moderate tingling or burning sensation. This will only last a few minutes. You may take some simple painkillers before your treatment if you are concerned.
The Obagi Blue Peel is the deepest peel we offer at Illuminate Skin Clinics, and as such is associated with the most discomfort. We will administer nerve blocks using local anaesthetic to make the procedure more comfortable for you.
Do I need to do anything to prepare for my chemical peel?
Most of our chemical peels don’t involve any preparation. However some of the peels we use do require skin preparation, which may involve a course of home skin care prior to the procedure. We can advise you about this following your consultation.
Ideally come to your appointment without make-up on.
Can I have a chemical peel if I am not Caucasian?
Yes – there is a peel regime suitable for all Fitzpatrick skin types. In general the darker your skin the more gently we will treat it, but there are good treatment options available.
Will my skin actually peel off after a chemical peel?
The degree of skin sloughing depends on the depth of peel and on your skin’s response to the treatment. In general a light peel will produce no peeling, although some people may experience some very light flaking around day 3 after treatment. Medium depth peels involve a little more peeling over 7 to 10 days.
Who should avoid chemical peels?
There are very few contra-indications to chemical peels, but the following people should avoid treatment:
- Pregnant women
- Breastfeeding mothers
- People who have been prescribed Roaccutane in the last 6 months
Are there any risks of chemical peels?
When performed by qualified medical practitioners, chemical peels are safe procedures. In general the deeper the peel the greater the risk of complications.
- Hypopigmentation (pale discolouration)
- Uneven skin tone
- Outbreak of coldsores
What will my appointment involve?
We will conduct a thorough consultation to determine your concerns, and take some ultraviolet photographs of your skin to assess sun damage to your skin. We will then advise you on the best course of treatment for you, including advice on ongoing skincare. The exact process of the treatment will depend on the type of peel we advise for you.
Is there any downtime after a chemical peel?
This will depend on the depth of your peel. A light peel may leave you looking a little red and occasionally mildly swollen – in most people this lasts less than 24 hours, but can occasionally be more prolonged.
Medium depth peels involve a more intense redness initially, that is usually associated with some swelling. Over the first 2-3 days your skin will feel tight and start to look a little darker in colour. From 3 days onwards your skin will start to peel, and may do so for 3-5 days. You should avoid picking at the peeling skin. Some people choose to take a week off work after a medium depth peel.
After an Obagi Blue Peel you will also notice your skin looks slightly greyish in colour. This is because of the blue tint which helps to guide the depth of the peel.
What should I do to look after my skin after a chemical peel?
- Use a gentle cleanser twice a day.
- Apply the recovery balm we provide you with twice a day, as this will aid skin healing.
- Using cold compresses can reduce any initial discomfort or swelling.
- Avoid picking at the peeling skin as this delays healing and can cause scarring.
- You can apply light make-up following treatment, although you may find that this makes the skin look more uneven until the peeling has stopped.
- Apply an SPF to your skin daily.
- Do not use saunas, steam rooms or have hot baths or showers for 48 hours after treatment – you may find your skin is more sensitive to heat.