Chemical peeling is one of the oldest Cosmetic procedures in the world and was performed by ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. Prior to the twentieth century, almost all of these peels were performed by non-medical Personnel, such as Aestheticians, particularly in Europe where a great deal of refinement in the procedures occurred prior to bringing the procedure to the United States during the first part of this century.
Now these procedures are commonly performed by Dermatologists, Plastic Surgeons and Cosmetic Surgeons with the intention of producing younger looking, smoother, more even skin.
The basic concept of Chemical Peels is really rather simple. The pH of the skin (the measurement of its acidity) is 5.5 which is slightly Acid, so that anything that is applied to the skin deviating from the pH of 5.5 will tend to cause some irritation and "burn" the skin. The burning of the skin then causes a healing process. It is in the process of healing that the benefits are obtained.
An Alkali, such as Lye, could be used to increase the skins pH, but is not as reliable as Acid, therefore, all Chemical Peels are performed with Acids.
We outline four basic groups of Acids that are used:-
Phenol, or Carbolic Acid
This is the deepest Peel. It is administered under carefully monitored conditions due to the possibility of effects on the heart, as well as the fact that anaesthesia is often required due to the pain. Phenol Peel is not used as much as it has been in the past because of developments that allow us to obtain results using agents that are less debilitating. However, in the right hands, Phenol Peels or derivatives (for example, Bakers Peel) can obtain beautiful results.
Trichloracetic Acid (TCA)
Over the last sixty years or so, Dermatologists have commonly used Trichloracetic Acid (TCA), which in varying concentrations can produce a significant burn that allows healing to occur and again, produces rather nice results. Because the concentration of the Trichloracetic Acid is the sole factor that determines how deep it will penetrate and how significant the possibility of side effects will be, procedures have been developed that utilize milder Acids first (such as a solution known as Jessners) or actually apply solid Carbon Dioxide (Hot Ice), and then do the Peel. This allows concentrations to be used in the 30-35% range. These concentrations more deeply penetrate the skin since the outer layers have been removed by the other Acid prior to peeling. TCA Peels are uncomfortable during the process, but afterwards there is no discomfort and it takes about 10-12 days to heal from a good TCA Peel. A TCA Peel usually eventuates in a smooth, even skin.
Alpha Hydroxy Peels
Glycolic Acid is a commonly used Alpha Hydroxy Peel. These Peels are performed by both Aestheticians and Physicians. It should be understood that no number of these Peels is going to obtain the results of a single TCA or Phenol Peel.
The beauty of Alpha Hydroxy Peels is that they are safe with only a few instances of scarring and other side effects reported. It is, however, important to make sure that the person proposing to do the Peel really understands how it is used and that they have a great deal of experience. It has been determined that in actuality the daily exposure of the skin to Glycolic Acid or other Alpha Hydroxy Acids during the Skin Care Program at home is a much more important factor than the Peels. Once the initial series of Glycolic Acid Peels are performed, the speed of the Peels process is increased, so that there is no reason to continue the Alpha Hydroxy peeling.
Beta Hydroxy Peels
Salicylic Acid is the new generation of products for improving the appearance of ageing skin.
Dermatologists now agree that Beta Hydroxy, Salicylic Acid is a superior exfoliant that improves the appearance of ageing, sun-damaged skin without all the irritations associated with the Alpha Hydroxy, Glycolic Acid.
Salicylic Acid Peels are effective in reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and improving overall facial texture because it exfoliates both the skin surface and within pores, without all the irritations commonly associated with the Alpha Hydroxy, Glycolic Acid."
It has been found that Beta Hydroxy, Salicylic Acid is effective with as little as one-fifth the concentration typically found in products containing Glycolic Acid. In a single study comparing a 1.5 percent Salicylic Acid product and an 8+ percent glycolic acid
product, the Salicylic Acid product was shown to be a more effective exfoliant.
Beta Hydroxys superior exfoliation action is thought to he attributed to its lipid- or oil-solubility.
It concentrates its exfoliation action in the lipid-rich outer layers of the skin, where the skin's natural rate of exfoliation reduces with ageing, causing a build up of dry, dull skin flakes.
The beauty with Alpha and Beta Hydroxy Acids is their incorporation into Cosmetic preparations, allowing for improvement to the skin from daily applications in the comfort of your home, alleviating the necessity of having a Beautician perform a deep peel, unless extreme conditions prevail where only a professional deep peel may need to be applied.