Chemical peel uses a chemical solution to improve and smooth the texture of the facial skin by removing its damaged outer layers and facial blemishes, wrinkles and uneven skin pigmentation. Phenol, and trichloroacetic acid (TCA) are used for this purpose. The precise formula used may be adjusted to meet each patient's needs. Although chemical peel may be performed in conjunction with a facelift, it is not a substitute for such surgery, nor will it prevent or slow the aging process.
Chemical peel is most commonly performed for cosmetic reasons to enhance your appearance and your self confidence. Chemical peel may also remove pre-cancerous skin growths, soften acne facial scars and even control acne. In certain cases, health insurance may cover the peel procedure.
Trichloroacetic acid (TCA) can be used in many concentrations, but it is most commonly used for medium-depth peeling. Fine surface wrinkles, superficial blemishes and pigment problems are commonly treated with TCA. The results of TCA peel are usually less dramatic than and not as long-lasting as those of a phenol peel. In fact, more than one TCA peel may be needed to achieve the desired result. The recovery from a TCA peel is usually shorter than with a phenol peel. With a TCA peel, your healed skin will be able to produce pigment as always; the peel will not bleach the skin.
Phenol is the strongest of the chemical solutions and produces a deep peel. It is used mainly to treat patients with coarse facial wrinkles, areas of blotchy or damaged skin caused by sun exposure, or pre-cancerous growths. Since phenol sometimes lightens the treated areas, your skin pigmentation may be a determining factor as to whether or not this is an appropriate treatment for you. Phenol is primarily used on the face; scarring may result if it's applied to the neck or other body areas.
With a phenol peel, the new skin frequently loses its ability to make pigment (that is, tan). This means that not only will the skin be lighter in color, but you'll always have to protect it from the sun. Certain modified phenol peels are gentler and may be preferred in some circumstances.