Spotlight Procedure: Chemical Peels

Facial plastic surgery is extremely versatile and can accomplish a wide range of goals, from alleviating relatively minor signs of aging to correcting significant structural defects.  However, no matter how specialized these procedures may be, they all have one thing in common: the skin.  Not only do all plastic surgery procedures require making incisions in the skin, but many of the most common signs of facial aging are the results of everyday environmental damage to the skin’s surface.  One of the best ways that I have found to address both surgical scarring and environmental damage is with a chemical peel.  This is one of the reasons why I frequently use chemical peels in my practice, both as a way to rejuvenate the skin’s appearance, removing wrinkles and restoring a youthful glow, and as a way to help patients recover more quickly and completely after other, more comprehensive, facial plastic surgery procedures.  In this month’s “Spotlight Procedure” blog, I will explain how this useful technique works and exactly what it can do for you.

Spotlight Procedure Chemical Peels

How Does a Chemical Peel Work?

There are many different types of chemical peels, but the ones that I perform use trichloroacetic acid, or TCA, to gently exfoliate the skin by washing away layers of dead skin cells that have accumulated on the skin’s surface.  Not only does this effectively ‘smooth out’ surface imperfections like rough patches, fine lines, and wrinkles, but it also stimulates the body’s natural healing factors, increasing the production of collagen and elastin that form the basis of new skin cells.  TCA chemical peels are relatively mild and so are unlikely to negatively affect pigmentation, and they allow for a faster recovery time than most other chemical peels.

What Can a Chemical Peel Treat?

The lower strength (15% TCA) chemical peels that we perform in our office can help alleviate many signs of facial aging, like fine lines and wrinkles, and can even help reduce the appearance of minor acne scars or pigment irregularities.  A stronger (30% TCA) chemical peel, which must be administered in a sterile operating room, is best for patients who have more severe skin conditions, including rough or scaly skin patches, or for patients who would like to reduce the appearance of scars caused by previous surgical incisions or accidental trauma.  I often incorporate chemical peels as a part of another facial plastic surgery procedure, like a facelift or mini-facelift, to help reduce post-surgical scarring and give the face a smoother and more even looking appearance.

Is Recovery after a Chemical Peel Difficult?

Some patients may experience minor to moderate swelling and/or a red flush after a chemical peel, and the areas affected may temporarily be sensitive or itchy. Patients should avoid direct and even indirect sunlight, since ultraviolet light can seriously damage unprotected skin.  It is also important to keep the skin well moisturized while it is healing.  The amount of downtime required after a chemical peel will generally vary depending on the strength of the peel, with patients needing about a week after a mild 15% TCS peel and at least two weeks after a stronger 30% TCA peel.  However, if you receive a chemical peel during another facial plastic surgery procedure, your downtime will be dependent on your procedure.

Controlling facial aging begins with taking good care of your skin, so if you are interested in learning more about what you can do to keep your skin looking young and healthy, contact my office and make an appointment for a complimentary skin care consultation with my Physician Assistant Kalyani Pandya.  Don’t forget to connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ for the latest facial plastic surgery news.