What they are, and how chemical peels work

Peeling is a dermatological treatment that is obtained by applying acids, lotions, creams or gels to the skin; this treatment is based on the ability of the skin to regenerate itself because (more or less intensely) the superficial layer is necrotized.

If this exfoliation occurs thanks to chemical principles, we speak of chemical peeling, while if it occurs through appropriate machinery (eg: microdermabrasion or other substances containing abrasive particles), it is called exfoliation or mechanical scrub.

The peeling creates evident changes in the skin through three fundamental mechanisms:

  • Removal of dead cells from the stratum corneum to promote cell turnover (brighter and more uniform skin)
  • Removal of damaged and degenerated epidermal cells (photoaging)
  • Start of revitalizing biological processes and mechanisms following the activation of inflammatory mediators

After the peeling treatment, the skin appears brighter, with a more homogeneous texture and a more uniform complexion. Furthermore, the synthesis of collagen and elastin fibers and the increase in hydration induced by the procedure, makes the skin even more toned and younger-looking.

On which parts of the body this technique can be performed

The chemical peel can be applied to the face, neck, décolleté, arms, hands, legs and abdomen. This technique has proven to be a procedure for the benefit of imperfections such as wrinkles (glabellar, nasolabial and wrinkles around the eyes) irregular texture, stretch marks, post-acne scars, age spots, melasma and chloasma, photoaging, acne in active phase.

Chemical peel classification

Depending on the degree of acidity or alkalinity of the caustic used, the molecule, type of acid used and the molecular weight, chemical peeling can be classified into:

  • Very superficial and superficial peeling: thin and accelerate the natural process of exfoliation of the stratum corneum;
  • Medium peels: they lead to necrosis of the epidermis and part or all of the papillary dermis (for medical use only);
  • Deep peeling: lead to necrosis and inflammation of the epidermis and papillary dermis, reaching up to the reticular dermis with the fundamental purpose of provoking the deep dissection of the atrophic skin in the treated areas, then favoring the synthesis of new tissue through the stimulation of fibroblasts (for medical use only)

A chemical peel may act in a different way compared to expectations if not controlled adequately, leading to undesirable outcomes.

Important: always perform these procedures at specialized facilities, relying on trained and qualified experts, following the relevant advice before and after the procedure.
With reference to the sessions and the results to be obtained, it is good practice to perform a preliminary, superficial peeling sessions of medium depth: an excellent and lasting cumulative result will be obtained without the risk of undesirable effects such as excessive redness, edema, and aggressive desquamation (which may persist depending on the caustic for eg in cases of deep peeling 10-15 days until complete cell renewal).

Stages of treatment

PRE – Once agreed with the practitioner the treatment modalities (number of sessions, substance used and results to be obtained) the same will suggest to act preventively using low-level caustic blends for about 7-10 days at home to slightly thin the area to be treated and prepare it for the real outpatient treatment. Always apply a 50++ sunscreen during the home preparation procedure and then for about a month after the peeling.

DURING – The day of the treatment, always depending on the caustic and of the method used, the most common and normal sensations during application are: sense of intense heat, burning and tingling that will vanish as soon as the caustic neutralized and applied a soothing mask based on hyaluronic acid with different molecular weights and other soothing, antibacterial and antibiotic-like properties.

POST – Immediately the skin appears, again according to the caustic and used with slow shutter speeds, red and sometimes swollen. In the following days the skin could become brown until completely exfoliated (in case of medium or deep peels). Apply a generous amount of soothing cream and moisturizing masks in order to avoid typical post peeling discomfort and always apply a sunscreen to avoid further photoexposure damage as the skin will be sensitive to UV rays so during the month following treatment apply a 50+ protection ++ during the day.

In the case of surface treatments (also called socializing as it does not create side effects such as redness or exfoliation) already after 24 hours you can proceed to a light camouflage.

The main acids used in chemical peels

The caustics mainly used in the treatment of chemical exfoliation are: salicylic acid, glycolic acid, azelaic acid, mandelic acid, ferulic acid, malic acid, citric acid, lactic acid, pyruvic acid, trichloroacetic acid, phenol, etc ...

Peeling, when it is not recommended

It is absolutely forbidden to undergo chemical exfoliation procedures in the following cases: intake in the period before treatment (6 months) of drugs containing high percentage of vitamin A ( or derivates ) both topical and oral intake, tendency to keloids or abnormal scarring and hypertrophy, presence of pathologies in progress such as dermatitis, taking anticoagulants and bacterial or fungal infections in progress.

Derma Shop offers a wide range of chemical peels combined, carefully formulated to treat any kind of imperfection, from the slightest to the most severe: