A chemical peel consists of peeling off the outer layers of the skin using a mild acid. It improves the fine wrinkling and blotchiness that occur with sun damage, as do Retin-A cream and bleaching agents. The changes however are faster and more dramatic.
Many peeling agents such as phenol (carbolic acid), TCA (trichloroacetic acid), glycolic acid or resorcinol, and strengths have been used according to the individual problem. The traditional phenol peel has largely been replaced by RF microneedling or fractional laser, because it bleached the skin significantly. I use TCA peels for some patients, and glycolic and fruit acids are common over the counter beauty ingredients.
With a T.C.A. peel, I usually pre-treat the skin with Retin-A for one to two months. Chemical peeling is sometimes performed with some sedation. No anesthesia is needed. A burning sensation occurs as the solution is applied, then the skin rapidly becomes numb. The skin usually peels like a sunburn only. After the new skin grows, the face is pink for one to two months
Following your peel it is very important to stay out of the sun or use sun block at all times, until the redness has settled. Sun exposure during this time may cause changes in skin color.
A mild peel may be repeated several times to get the desired effect. Peeling improves skin tone and elasticity. Most of the fine wrinkles disappear. Interestingly, microscopic examination of the peeled skin shows that many of the changes of sun damage are reversed.