The Many Layers of a Chemical Peel

The Many Layers of a Chemical Peel | RefinedMD, Los Gatos + San Jose

The Many Layers of a Chemical Peel

Chemical peels can be light, medium, or deep (also called medical- or surgical-grade). You can check out before and after photos of chemical peels performed by Dr. Roy at RefinedMD to get a peek at just how incredible the results can be. Dr. Supeep Roy customizes every treatment, and choosing one of the many services or a chemical peel can be a fantastic addition and complement to just about every procedure performed by Dr. Roy. But what exactly are chemical peels, how do they work—and why is it so important for even light peels to be performed by a professional?

Unfortunately, so-called “chemical peel” masks and products you might find in stores or online aren’t actually chemical peels (or they are, and they’re way too dangerous to perform yourself!). A real medium-depth chemical peel is best performed under IV sedation in order to ensure zero discomfort and for the physician performing the procedure to be meticulous with comprehensive coverage of the peeling agent. Most medium-depth peels are performed at an outpatient surgical center.

Chemical Peels vs. Laser Skin Resurfacing

Which one is better? It all depends on your skin and your goals, because these two treatments feature totally different approaches and technologies. Chemical peels use one or more chemical products applied to the skin, resulting in a reaction that removes the top, aged layers of skin to reveal the youthful and clear skin below the surface. Different chemical peels can penetrate to different layers (light to deep) and the best chemical peel for you will depend on the degree of skin damage. Chemical peels are usually the best way to clear skin of excess pigment, sun damage, and to remove wrinkles.

Lasers use a focused light to heat up various layers of the skin and “burn” away wrinkles and hyperpigmentation. The results of a chemical peel and laser skin rejuvenation can be similar in some regards, but lasers have shown to be slightly superior in wrinkle reduction—particularly around the eyes and mouth. Some patients combine laser skin rejuvenation with a chemical peel for optimal results.

What Kind of Peel Should I Get?

Chemical peels can be comprised of a wide variety of blended chemicals. Dr. Roy uses a combination of Jessner Solution and 35% TCA (trichloroacetic acid). This results in a medium-depth chemical peel and has been shown to provide consistent results while minimizing the risks of chemical peels such as scarring and systemic toxicity. That’s right—even professionally applied chemical peels can lead to unwanted results. It’s critical to only trust a doctor, and particularly a facial plastic surgeon, with your chemical peel. Trying a DIY approach can cause permanent damage and unfortunately that’s exactly what we’ve been seeing on social media lately.

Quarantine has made a lot of people stir crazy for their favorite treatments, and that has led to an uptick in online talks about at-home chemical peels. One nurse recently made headlines when she started gathering and sharing the “results” of at-home and DIY peels on social media in an effort to stop this risky trend. Zoe Gazola spoke to BuzzFeed News after she had a number of people reach out to her virtually for help after they bought illegal chemical peels online and were left with horrific burns and scarring.

The Risks of DIY Chemical Peels

According to Zoe, most of the women who have contacted her have third-degree burns. These women have been watching YouTube videos and joining social media groups that encourage at-home peels as a means to save money or time. With quarantine forcing the temporary closure of many clinics, it created a perfect storm for online retailers to push their at-home chemical peel products, even when they can result in serious damage. When Zoe heard about this trend, she joined a closed Facebook group that encourages DIY chemical peels under a pseudonym to see what kind of conversations are really happening.

What she found was a lot of unprofessional advice being shared and the pushing of medical-grade products that should never be handled by anyone except a doctor. One of the women in the group bought 35% TCA, which is extremely dangerous and should legally only used by a doctor or nurse. Many professionals who administer TCA don’t use anything above 30%. Zoe estimates that the third-degree burns were caused by both leaving the acid on too long and using too much of it. Ultimately, a chemical peel is a controlled chemical burn and even leaving it on a couple of seconds too long or using a tiny bit too much can lead to permanent scarring and severe pain.

Chemical peels can be a safe and effective way to turn back the clock—but only when administered by a professional. Learn more about proper chemical peels performed by Dr. Roy at RefinedMD by calling (408) 688-2082 and scheduling your consultation.