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Chemical Peels

What are chemical peels?

Chemical peels are a type of acid-based treatment where special chemicals are administered to the skin to exfoliate the top layer (epidermis) and reveal new skin. Consequently, this improves skin texture; chemical peels are hence often used to treat pigmentation, acne scars, uneven skin tone or sun-damaged skin.

Chemical peels can also be used in acne treatment to clear up blemishes and spots. Some examples of chemical peels are AHAs such as glycolic acid or lactic acid (light chemical peels), BHAs (salicylic acid) and TCAs (medium chemical peels) which are a stronger type of chemical peel.

Why chemical peels?

Chemical peels are a safe, non-invasive way to help manage a variety of skin conditions. They use acids such as AHAs (glycolic and lactic acid), which are considered to be antioxidants and extremely beneficial for skin health. Antioxidants protect the skin from toxins such as smoke, sun exposure or pollutants in the air.

Physical benefits of undergoing chemical peels treatments include: 

• Able to minimize wrinkles and fine lines

• Reduction in pore size

• Fades dark spots and pigmentation

• Able to treat acne and acne scarring

How do chemical peels work?

Chemical peels remove dead skin on the face through a chemical reaction between the acids and the skin cells. This encourages the skin to regenerate itself to form new healthy cells. 

Chemical peels are suitable for all skin types: 

• Light chemical peels superficially remove the upper layer of the skin (epidermis layer). They can be used to treat wrinkles and fine lines as well as acne and uneven skin tone caused by conditions such as eczema. 

• Medium chemical peels remove skin not only from the top layer of your face but also the dermis (layer under the epidermis). They are effective for deeper types of acne scars and dark spots caused by acne or pigmentation.

• Deep chemical peels are done to treat conditions such as precancerous skin growths and deep wrinkles which cannot be treated on the skin’s surface (epidermis).

What conditions can chemical peels treat?

Chemical peels are typically done to fade hyperpigmentation and improve skin texture such as eliminating wrinkles and fine lines. They are also able to reduce skin congestion or clogging as part of an acne treatment regimen.

What results can I expect from chemical peels?

Patients can expect some redness on the face after undergoing a chemical peel, with itching or dryness. Your skin may begin to peel after 2 days from the treatment and lasts for up to 5 days. It will take about a few days to 1 to 2 weeks to see the full effects of chemical peels depending on the strength of the peel. 

How many treatments of chemical peels do I need?

The number of treatments will depend on the patient’s needs or on the treatment plan you and your dermatologist has formulated. Light chemical peels can be done once every 2 to 5 weeks as they are gentler on the skin, while medium chemical peels can be done every 4 to 6 months. As there is more downtime for deep chemical peels, they are done every 1 to 2 years and patients usually do not need repeated treatments.


Are chemical peels safe?
Chemical peels are safe for common skin problems such as acne scars and pigmentation. Each session takes about 30 to 60 minutes and will include skin prep and safety measures such as protecting your face and hair during the procedure. It is advisable for patients who are prone to keloid scars to consult a doctor prior to undergoing a chemical peel as they may not be suitable for the treatment. Patients on retinoids must also temporarily halt product use 3 to 4 days before the treatment depending on advice from your dermatologist.
Are chemical peels painful?
Chemical peels do not typically cause any discomfort. There may be slight pain such as tightness of the skin or tingling due to the chemical reactions during the treatment. It is important to seek an experienced aesthetician to ensure a comfortable procedure.
Is there any downtime?
There is some downtime needed for chemical peels as patients will experience redness after the treatment. This is typically the case for light chemical peels where you may be allowed to wear makeup after the next day. For medium to deep chemical peels, patients may need to rest for up to 2 to 3 weeks. You will likely experience swelling and scaling of the skin during the healing process in these cases.
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