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What Is a Chemical Peel?

chemicalpeels2-300x201A chemical peel is a controlled exfoliation that induces a repair mechanism of the epidermis (upper skin) and dermis (lower skin) caused by the application of a chemical substance.

Our experienced physician, Dr. Shehla Ebrahim, typically performs this procedure in a series of three to six treatments, which is designed to help the following skin conditions:

  • Aging skin
  • Sun-damaged skin
  • Fine lines and wrinkles
  • Acne
  • Pigmentation abnormalities
  • Irregular skin texture
  • Congested skin

The earliest peels were documented in Egyptian medicine more than 5,000 years ago. History shows that:

  • Egyptian royalty bathed in sour milk (lactic acid) to brighten their complexions
  • In the late 1800s, dermatologists in Europe discovered skin peeling can have anti-aging and skin lightening benefits
  • The chemicals used caused an initial burn, but as the skin healed benefits were observed

Many of the chemicals that were first utilized in the 1900’s are still in use today, including:

  •  Salicylic acid (BHA related to aspirin that can help exfoliate the skin and unclog bacteria)
  • Resorcinol (antiseptic and astringent)
  • Phenol (deep peeling agent)
  • TCA (trichloroacetic acid, which is chemically related to vinegar)
  • Glycolic acid (AHA derived from cane sugar)
  • Lactic acid (AHA found naturally in the body)

Skin rejuvenation procedures are often referred to as “resurfacing procedures,” due to the fact that the treated skin will be mildly burned or otherwise sloughed off to stimulate the growth of new, healthier, more aesthetically appealing skin. There are many ways to encourage this regenerative process, including using chemical peels, which utilize acidic solutions; dermabrasion, which uses a spinning buffing wheel; and laser resurfacing, which applies a laser beam to the skin.

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