Deep Chemical Peels
Deep chemical peels offer an intense exfoliation with results that last for years. Deep peels are an aggressive skin resurfacing technique that improves the appearance of the skin. A solution is applied to the skin which causes the treated area to exfoliate and literally "peel off". Typically, the deeper the peel, the more dramatic the results, but they are also associated with longer recovery periods and adverse side effects.
Deep Chemical Peels
- avg. recovery
About the Procedure
Deep chemical peels penetrate the skin to reach the reticular dermis. Skin is comprised of 3 main layers: epidermis, dermis, and hypodermis. The dermis is divided into two additional depths, the papillary and reticular. The reticular layer contains hair roots, sebaceous glands, sweat glands, and blood vessels as well as collagen and elastin. By reaching the reticular layer, deep chemical peels have dramatic effects on more severe wrinkles and skin discolorations however the recovery time is upwards of 3 months. Due to its aggressive resurfacing, your provider may advise sedation during treatment. The most common ingredient used in a deep peel is phenol with full strength phenol reaching 88%. The phenol will be diluted with other ingredients to customize the solution however as the concentration decreases, the depth of the peel will actually increase. Another popular ingredient used in deep peels is croton oil which is commonly mixed with phenol. Like medium peels, deep chemical peels will begin with the skin being pretreated and cleansed. It is common for a deep chemical peel to be preceded by a superficial chemical peel to prep the skin and allow for deeper, more even penetration. Once the skin is thoroughly prepped and cleansed, the solution will be methodically brushed onto the skin and observed for rate of change. The solution will begin to turn white as it chemically exfoliates away skin impurities. When treatment is complete, the solution will be neutralized and removed from the skin. Following treatment a soothing balm or ointment will be applied and the face may be wrapped in a garment.
Deep chemical peels are used to create a youthful skin texture by improving the evenness of skin color and texture. Depending on the intensity of the chemical peel the appearance of wrinkles, sun-damage, skin discolorations, blotchiness, brown spots, scars and certain precancerous skin growths can be reduced.
What to Expect
Deep chemical peels offer an intense exfoliation with results that last for years. Here is a quick guide for what to expect before, during, and after a deep chemical peel.
- Minimize sun exposure
- An antiviral medication may be prescribed
- A preparatory retinoid or tretinoin cream may be prescribed to prime the skin
- A bleaching agent may be recommended to prevent changes in skin pigmentation
- Do not exfoliate or use aggressive products for 1 week
- Skin will be cleansed
- Sensitive areas around lips and eyes protected
- Customized solution is brushed onto the skin for 15 minutes
- Chemical solution is neutralized
- Soothing lotion or serum is applied
- Face may be wrapped in a protective garment
Recovery from a deep chemical peel is extensive. The face will be very red for at least 1 week with severe crusting. Improvement continues over the next weeks to months, full healing can take several months. The skin requires active wound care, particularly initially while occlusive dressings and bandaging are utilized in the early postoperative days. Plan to take 2 weeks off from work and normal activities.
The ideal candidate for a deep chemical peel is someone with a lighter skin tone that wants the greatest results from a single peeling session, does not mind a prolonged recovery period of several weeks to months.
Not Recommended For
Deep chemical peels are not recommended for use on darker skin tones due to risk of hypopigmentation.
Side effects from a deep chemical peel may include local infection, contact dermatitis, irritation, burning, pruritus, pain, persistent erythema, edema, blistering. Delayed side effects may include scarring, delayed healing, milia, textural changes, hyperpigmentation, hypopigmentation, lines of demarcation, loss of cutaneous barrier and tissue injury, and acneiform eruptions.