Chemical peels produce effective results for several conditions, including skin discoloration, acne, acne scarring, and skin textural changes. Chemical peels can contain strong acids and, in the hands of inexperienced users, can cause unwanted side effects such as darkening or bleaching of the skin. Dr. Lina Naga and Dr. Terrence Keaney of SkinDC in Washington DC, are trained cosmetic dermatologists. They know which peel to use for each condition, and perhaps more importantly, how to use each peel safely. Call SkinDC today to arrange your peel.
Peels can produce good-to-excellent results, depending on the level of acne damage and the strength of the peel. Peels come in 3 “strengths.” Superficial peels penetrate the surface layer of the skin, but not much further. These are useful for active acne, since they have anti-inflammatory characteristics and temporarily reduce oil production in the skin. They are also beneficial for conditions characterized by skin discoloration, such as melasma or postinflammatory hyperpigmentation. Moderate peels treat both active acne and light scarring. These types of peels penetrate deeper into the skin and stimulate the production of collagen and other proteins that support outer skin layers. This causes a rejuvenating action that reduces the appearance of mild-to-moderate acne scarring. Deep chemical peels are primarily for acne scar treatment. These are the most aggressive chemicals and work by breaking down skin proteins and stimulating the production of new tissue. However, these peels completely remove the top layer of the skin and extend into the deeper layers of the skin. The effects of the peel can be extreme, including bleeding, crusting, swelling, and long-term redness. These are also problematic for people with darker skin, as both hyper and hypopigmentation may occur, darkening or lightening skin in the treated area. At SkinDC, we utilize deep chemical peels for pinpoint destruction of deep ‘ice-pick; acne scars.
Melasma — brown discoloration that commonly occurs on the forehead, cheeks, mouth, and jaw — usually results from a combination of sun exposure and hormones. Hormones trigger the growth of melanocytes, the cells that darken skin, while sunlight triggers melanin, the pigment that darkens those cells. Chemical peels reduce the effects of melasma by stimulating the turnover of skin cells, taking this excess of melanin with them. Usually, the superficial peels are used for melasma treatment.
Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, or PIH, results from an injury or inflammatory response. This appears as brown spots if the PIH stimulates melanin in the epidermis, and as blue or gray if melanin is stimulated in the lower layers. As with melasma, chemical peels stimulate new tissue growth and cell turnover. The underlying cause of the PIH should be corrected prior to the treatment of the PIH. Chemical peels may have moderate-to-severe effects. Though they may still be the right treatment in some cases, they are often used in conjunction with other treatments or replaced with newer techniques creating less down time for the patient.