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Day in and day out, our skin takes a lot of abuse. The sun is our biggest enemy, sending a relentless barrage of harmful UV rays causing skin to prematurely age and wrinkle. (And we’re still sun-worshippers—go figure!) Environmental pollutants stress the skin even more. Add on the effects of aging, and it’s no wonder that we look in the mirror and see wear and tear that we’d like to reverse.
More and more women and men look to their plastic surgeons for skin revitalization and resurfacing to regain a fresher, more healthy and young-looking complexion. Chemical peel, one such revitalizing treatment, is extremely popular; thousands of chemical peels are performed by plastic surgeons each year. In fact, it’s cited as one of the top five cosmetic procedures for women by The American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons.
The results of a chemical peel can be very impressive.
There are different types of chemical peels which produce different results, but all are similar in this respect: a chemical solution is applied to remove the damaged outer layers of skin so that new, regenerated skin replaces the old. As a rule, the deeper the peel, the more profound the results and the longer the recovery time.
Alphahydroxy acids (AHAs) include glycolic, lactic, or fruit acids, and are mild chemical solutions that lightly peel skin, often resulting in brighter-looking, smoother skin. These "lunch hour" peels are often done repeatedly over time, and can even out fine wrinkling, uneven pigmentation, and smooth out rough, dry skin or a mild acne problem.
Trichloroacetic acid (TCA) is used when a medium depth peel is indicated for skin that has moderate sun damage, fine lines and weathered skin. TCA peels can correct pigment problems and superficial blemishes, and sometimes two or more treatments, spaced out over weeks or months, are required for best results. A full-face TCA peel usually takes about 15 minutes. The Obagi or "Blue Peel" is one specific brand you may hear of.
Phenol acid is the strongest of the chemical solutions and causes a deep peel. A phenol peel is a drastic, one-time procedure that offers dramatic and long-lasting results. Anyone with extensive wrinkling, lots of brown age spots, mild scarring or with pre-cancerous growths, could be a candidate for this procedure. A full-face phenol peel can take from one to two hours. The phenol peel results in permanently lighter skin. To protect it, a sunblock must be used at all times.
After evaluating the condition of the patient’s skin, skin type and the severity of discoloration and wrinkling, your plastic surgeon can determine which type of chemical peel is right for you. Most peels can be performed on the face, neck, chest, hands, arms and legs.
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