So-called “lunchtime” peels are mild, providing only light exfoliation on the outer layer of the skin. When skin deterioration and discoloration is also mild, this may be sufficient. These have little downtime if any at all, and there’s little risk associated with use. However, the intensity of the peel effect is also limited.
Stronger peels use more powerful acids. Medium-level peels penetrate both the outer and middle layers of the skin. These target fine lines, wrinkles and discolorations, such as age spots, freckles, and other uneven skin tones. This level of peel causes the skin to shed via peeling, sort of a chemical “sunburn” but without the harmful effects of ultraviolet light from the sun. New skin grows in smoother and with fewer wrinkles than before. Deep peels are more aggressive still, affecting darker spots and deeper scarring.
Skin color has much to do with successful results. Fair-skinned patients, who may be more susceptible to sun damage naturally, make the best candidates for peels. Peels do work on medium and dark skin, as long as the correct amount of passes the correct acid is chosen.
Sagging skin, with bulges and deep wrinkles, don’t respond well to peels. There are, however, many other procedures to address these problems.
There is a stinging sensation associated with any chemical peel. The more aggressive formulas will likely cause more of a sting. Redness, irritation, and crusting naturally occur with stronger peels, but this is normal. Your dermatologist discusses follow-up care as part of your treatment. Creams and gels help the patient through the recovery stages.
Unexpected changes in skin color can occur, either temporarily or permanently. Women with a history of facial discoloration, those on birth control pills, or those who subsequently get pregnant have an increased risk of skin color change.