Unlocking the Customized Power of Chemical Peels

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Perhaps one of the most ancient aesthetic treatments in existence, chemical peels are nothing “new” on the skincare scene.

However, the science behind them continues to evolve, allowing aesthetic practitioners to use the very best ingredients and techniques in skincare science to deliver customized results. 

It’s this customization that has made chemical peels one of the most popular and widely known aesthetic treatments; however, pop culture has done a great job of misrepresenting the chemical peel as a scary treatment that results in a raw and red face that looks painful and scary instead of fresh and revived. 

But don’t worry, we’re here to set the record straight on chemical peels and show you just how powerful of a tool they can be in your skincare arsenal: 

What is a chemical peel? 

The simplest explanation is that a chemical peel is a chemical exfoliation of the skin. 

If you were to look at your skin under a microscope, it’s very reminiscent of a brick wall, and if you picture the skin cell as the bricks, the mortar is what connects those cells together. What a chemical peel does is dissolve the “mortar,” which removes the layers of dead skin cells that accumulate as we age and triggers the skin to regenerate and heal from the “controlled injury” of the chemical peel to reveal renewed, youthful and radiant skin underneath. 

Chemical peels come in three varieties, each with their own unique ingredients, techniques, and effects. These varieties include superficial peels, medium peels, and deep peels, which vary based on how far they will penetrate into the various dermal layers of the skin. 

The majority of the peels we perform for our patients at Potomac Medical Aesthetics (we offer SkinCeuticals and SkinMedica’s lines of peels) fall into the superficial and medium categories, and exist within a series or are used to prep the skin prior to another aesthetic treatment such as a laser treatment. 

P.S. - In case you were wondering how historical chemical peels are, here’s a fun fact: The ancient Egyptians were among some of the first to utilize acids to break down the outer layers of the skin to make aesthetic improvements. Some of their peels used animal oils, salt, alabaster, and sour milk since lactic acid (an alpha-alpha-hydroxy acid) acted as the active agent to smooth the skin.

What skin concerns do chemical peels help with?

A chemical peel can effectively treat several skin conditions on the face, neck, and hands including:

  • Scarring (including acne scars)

  • Fine lines and light wrinkles

  • Irregular skin pigmentation

  • Superficial blemishes

  • Sun-damaged skin

Additionally, those without a specific skin concern, but with the desire to revive a dull complexion or refresh and rejuvenate their appearance are also good candidates for chemical peels. 

Alternately, patients with skin bulging or sagging, or those with deeper, more severe wrinkles may not be the best fit for receiving a chemical peel, but rather a laser resurfacing treatment or dermal filler. 

What’s the best kind of chemical peel for my skin?

The simple answer is: we won’t know until we see your skin and discuss your goals with you! 

As you can see from the answers to the two previous questions, chemical peels can be highly customized, which is fantastic for helping you to achieve your desired results; however, it also means this isn’t a one-size-fits-all treatment. 

At Potomac Medical Aesthetics, we have one of our incredible aestheticians evaluate and analyze your skin, discuss your goals, and then we can create a customized treatment recommendation that will leave you feeling and looking your best!

Do chemical peels hurt?

Remember how we mentioned the misconception that a chemical peel will leave your skin raw and painful? That’s not entirely true…

Deep chemical peels do result in higher levels of discomfort post-treatment, which we have tools to aid with, however, light and medium depth peels (which are more commonly performed) result in very little discomfort with the most common sensations being tingling and tightness post-treatment. 

We advise all our chemical peel patients to steer clear of sweaty workouts, sun exposure, and stay well-hydrated post-peel to prevent irritation or discomfort to your recently treated skin. 

What can I expect when receiving a chemical peel?

You can expect that a chemical peel will take anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes to perform, and that your post-peel recovery time will typically fall between 1-7 days depending on the acids used and level of your chemical peel. 

And finally, with a name like “chemical peel” you may expect that you’re going to shed like a snake, but again, it all depends on the type of peel you received! Many patients experience little to no peeling or flaking of the skin, but still experience tremendous results. 

Are you ready to experience what a chemical peel can do for your skin?

During our consult, we’ll evaluate your goals, specific skin concerns, make recommendations, and answer any and every question you have about our chemical peels. We hope to see you in our office soon! 

Daniela Woerner