Three Types of Chemical Peels: How to Choose the Right One

Three Types of Chemical Peels

The skin is the largest organ of your body, and because it’s exposed to the elements every day, it needs special care. One way to take good care of your skin is by using chemical peels. Chemical peels are a great way to rejuvenate the skin and provide a more youthful appearance by treating acne, wrinkles, and other skin conditions. There are three types of chemical peels: superficial, medium, and deep. Each has a different effect on the skin and should be chosen carefully depending on what your needs are. In this blog post we will discuss how each type works, as well as which ones would be best for certain situations!

How a Chemical Peel Works

Before we look at the different types of chemical peels and their effect on the skin, let’s first look at the basics of how chemical peels work. Chemical peels use an acidic chemical solution that penetrates the skin. The chemical solution reacts with various proteins in your body that are found close to the surface of your skin and dissolve layers of dead skin cells, which opens up the pores. This allows fresh new skin to be exposed, revealing a younger looking you!

Types of Chemical Peels

Now that we understand the basics of how chemical peels work to rejuvenate the skin, we can take a deeper look into the three different types of chemical peels and what sets them apart from one another. Although all chemical peels have the same basic effect, they use different chemical solutions and concentrations of these solutions to achieve different degrees of skin rejuvenation.

Superficial Peels

In a superficial or light peel, a mild acidic solution is applied to your skin. These peels provide light exfoliation of only the outer layer of skin. This type is great for people wanting an easy solution with little downtime.

To prepare for your peel, your provider will wash your face and apply eye protection. Then they will apply the acidic solution using a cotton ball, gauze, or a brush. The solution will be left on the skin until the skin starts to turn white. At this point, your provider will either remove the solution and/or apply a neutralizing solution. During a superficial peel, you may experience a mild stinging sensation until the neutralizing solution is applied.

Recovering from a superficial peel takes about 4-7 days. After having a superficial peel it is normal for your skin to be red, mildly irritated, and/or dry, much like a bad sunburn. For the best results, you will need to refrain from peeling or picking your skin. As your new skin emerges, it may be slightly lighter or darker in color.

Medium Peels

different types of chemical peels and how the affect the skin layers

Medium chemical peels are basically a more intense version of superficial peels. A stronger solution is used to penetrate the outer and part of the middle layer of skin, which removes dead and damaged skin cells. Since medium chemical peels remove more skin than superficial peels, there is typically more downtime involved.

To prepare for your peel, your provider will wash your face and apply eye protection. Then they will apply the acidic solution using a cotton ball, gauze, or a brush. The solution will be left on the skin until the skin starts to turn white. At this point, your provider will apply a cold compress to the skin since a neutralizing solution is not necessary for medium peels. Medium chemical peels may cause some stinging or burning sensations that last up to 20 minutes.

After your medium chemical peel, you should expect some redness and swelling to occur for the next 5-7 days. You may also experience tight skin, blistering, or crusting until all of the dead layers are shed off naturally. Medium peels can also cause prolonged redness.

Deep Peels

In a deep chemical peel, your skin is completely exfoliated by a stronger acidic solution. This type of peel penetrates through the outer and middle layers of the skin to remove skin cells. Since deep peels are so strong, you won’t need multiple peels to notice dramatic results.

To prepare for your chemical peel, your provider will wash your face and apply eye protection. You will also be given sedation. Then your provider will apply an application pad soaked in a strong acidic solution using firm pressure until the solution is absorbed into the skin. During a deep peel, different sections of your skin are exposed to the chemical solution for 15 minute intervals. Because of this, a deep peel can take around 90 minutes to complete.

After your deep peel, your provider may apply a moisturizing solution to hydrate your skin. Your face may be swollen and appear red, but this is normal for the next few days after having a deep peel. In some cases, the swelling can cause your eyelids to swell shut and can last for the first week. You should expect some peeling and flaking throughout your recovery time as well, which can last up to two weeks or more. Your provider will provide you with instructions to follow during your recovery from a deep peel.

Which Chemical Peel is Right for You?

When deciding which chemical peel is right for you, you will want to consider the treatment process, as well as the recovery period. For the best results, you will need to be sure that you are able and willing to adhere to the aftercare instructions.

chemical peel jars and application brush

Another factor that you will need to consider is the type of skin concern you are looking to correct and what your desired results are. While you should discuss this with your provider to determine what peel will work best for your individual cause, here is a general overview of skin concerns that the three types of peels can treat:

Superficial and medium peels: Superficial and medium chemical peels give you a more youthful appearance by treating acne, hyperpigmentation (dark spots), discoloration from sun damage or scarring , fine lines and wrinkles, enlarged pores, and other skin conditions. Superficial peels can be used for minor issues, whereas medium peels may be used for more moderate issues.

Deep peels: Deep chemical peels provide a more dramatic effect by resurfacing the top layer of your epidermis to treat scars from trauma or surgery, hyperpigmentation (dark spots) due to melasma or sun damage, deep wrinkling that is present at rest, and other skin conditions.

In Conclusion

Chemical peels are a great way to rejuvenate your skin and provide dramatic results for more severe conditions. The three types of chemical peels, superficial, medium, or deep will all have different benefits depending on the condition you’re looking to treat. Your provider can help you determine what type treatment is best suited for your needs based on your personal goals and how much time you want to dedicate to recovery after having the peel done. If this article has inspired you to take steps towards improving the health of your skin by scheduling an appointment with one of our providers, please contact us today!

Lee A. Kleiman

Dr. Lee A. Kleiman is a double board certified ENT & plastic surgeon at Anne Arundel ENT in Annapolis, Maryland known for his superior clinical outcomes in all Surgical and Non-Surgical ENT, specializing in Sinus Care, Voice and Swallowing, Rhinoplasty and Revision Rhinoplasty, and Facelifts and Non-surgical Aesthetic. He also continues to attend conferences internationally and nationally to keep abreast of the latest treatments and technology. 

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