The Lowdown on Chemical peels

by Chris McBeath

Long-lasting, results-oriented, anti-aging treatments have their price, both in terms of money and healing time. But with baby boomers (and gen-Xers) getting more wrinkly with every passing year, the ever-growing desire to look younger promises to keep the booming ‘youth’ industry, booming.

For those of us who aren’t quite ready to face surgery, really the only remedy for loose or sagging skin, these less scary options will help rejuvenate tired, sallow-looking dermis.


What it is:
A chemical peel is a controlled exfoliation of the skin caused by the application of a caustic chemical that literally peels or melts away the layers of skin. which, to my mind, at least, is like applying paint stripper to one’s face!

Much like microdermabrasion, superficial glycolic-acid peels enhance overall skin texture and refinement. The deeper variety of peels such as those using trichloroacetic acid (TCA), will deliver major changes in wrinkling, scarring, and pigmentation.

What to expect:
The practitioner swabs on a solution that sloughs or burns away the dead cells from the skin’s surface or, depending on its potency, will delve down deeper into the living layers of skin.

Estheticians can perform glycolic-acid peels at a concentration of up to 30%; only a physician or (supervised) nurse can apply more concentrated peels as they can really pack a punch. That said, your physician might suggest using a trichloroacetic acid (TCA), an even more aggressive chemical which, at a concentration of only 20%, can produce dramatic, longer-lasting results in a single treatment over a series of treatments with glycolic acid.

The lesser concentrations involve some slight stinging and are suitable for all skin types, with perhaps only a half-day’s healing time. TCA peels are best on fair complexions (darker skins are more prone to scarring and discoloration) and will have you looking very red for about a week, as if you have severe sunburn.

Either way, you will look remarkably refreshed and rejuvenated.

Other considerations
The deeper the peel, the more likely you are to run the risk of persistent redness, scarring and infection.

Prices for glycolic-acid peels range from $65 to $150 per treatment; many spas will offer a series of treatments at a reduced cost. TCA peels average $1,000

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