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- Chemical peel facts
- What is a chemical peel?
- What are the different types of chemical peels?
- Are at-home or over-the-counter chemical peels as effective as professional chemical peels?
- Who is a good candidate for a chemical peel?
- Who should not get a chemical peel?
- What are the benefits of chemical peels?
- What are risks, side effects, and dangers of chemical peels?
- How are chemical peels performed?
- How does one prepare for a chemical peel?
- What sort of follow-up care is needed after a chemical peel?
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What are risks, side effects, and dangers of chemical peels?
The risks, side effects, and complications of chemical peels include scarring, infection, reactivation of herpes simplex infections, and a substantial contrast in coloration of the treated skin. All patients will have a recuperation period, the length of which depends upon the depth of the peel. Deep peels can result in substantial periods of healing on the order of weeks. Deep peels generally require extensive local anesthesia, conscious sedation, and occasionally general anesthesia, which carries its own risks.
How are chemical peels performed?
Superficial peels rarely require anesthesia but are accompanied by a burning sensation when the solution is applied. This can be relieved by the application of cool compresses and fan-aided evaporation. Deeper peels often require extensive local anesthesia, systemic sedation, and rarely, general anesthesia. The peeling process begins with the application of a defatting solvent (acetone or alcohol) which is wiped uniformly over the area to be treated. The peeling solution is then applied for the appropriate time period and then halted by the application of a neutralizing solution. Bandages are applied to the treated area, and the patient is sent home to convalesce.
How does one prepare for a chemical peel?
Often it is suggested to pretreat patients with tretinoin cream for a period of time prior to the peel. People who get cold sores (herpes simplex infections) should start on antiviral medications like acyclovir (Zovirax) one week prior to treatment and continue taking these for two weeks after therapy to prevent reactivation of cold sores. All patients should be encouraged to use high SPF sunscreens prior to and after peeling. Those with darker skin may also require pretreatment with hydroquinone preparations.