A chemical peel uses various types and strengths of acid to effect a controlled burn on the upper layers of the skin. By removing these damaged outer layers, a fresher, more youthful complexion is revealed. Most chemical peels are performed on the face. Only the lightest peels, such as those with glycolic (gly-CALL-ick) acid, can be used to rejuvenate other areas like the chest, hands, and back. Light peels don't penetrate very far, they are used to treat superficial lines and spots. Their effect is temporary, though results can be prolonged by using topical anti-aging products and a strong sun block. Medium peels give more significant results and require more recovery time, usually up to a week or more. Most medium-strength peels use TCA (T-C-A), or trichloroacetic (try-kloar-oh-uh-SEET-ick) acid. Lines and age spots will show more improvement after a TCA peel. The strongest chemical peels are those performed with phenol (FEE-nawl). Lines, spots, freckles, and other blemishes are dramatically reduced with a phenol peel, but its after-effects are also more severe. You may experience extreme swelling the first few days, and redness which slowly fades over weeks or months. The results of a phenol peel are long-lasting. However, the risk of complications is also greater, so deep peels should only be performed by an experienced doctor.
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