A facial peel is a cosmetic, chemical treatment that can be performed at by or with a dermatologist to help lessen the appearance of blemishes, freckles, age spots, light scarring, and any number of other skin irregularities on the face. Also called chemical peels, they can improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and give new life to sun-damaged skin.
Commercial facial peel creams and dermabrasion systems can be purchased at drugstores or beauty supply shops. These products offer a mild concoction of chemicals and alphahydroxy acids that remove dead skin cells, uncovering layers of new skin that look fresher and more even in tone. The cream is applied to the face and left for several minutes to work, then scrubbed or rinsed off with water. Some systems come with a dermabrasion tool that works the facial peel into the skin, sloughing off dead skin cells in the process. Allergic reactions are possible with topical peel treatments, so always test a small patch of skin first before proceeding.
For a deeper peel, a dermatologist can recommend a professional facial peel to be performed by a plastic surgeon. These can be done with stronger chemical creams, or even with laser surgery. Generally speaking, a professional peel will remove more layers of skin, thereby removing or at least lessening the appearance of deeper and darker blemishes. The procedure is most successful with superficial skin marks and scarring; those with deep scarring or large patches of dark pigmentation are not good candidates for a chemical peel. These procedures are also effective in reducing wrinkles without having to undergo a complete facelift.
There are some risks involved with having a chemical facial peel. Some of the chemicals used in them can cause bleaching of the skin, and there is a slight risk of infection and even scarring. After a chemical peel, the skin will appear red and swollen, and feel tender to the touch. Scabs may form as well, since layers of the skin are burned off with the chemicals. Normally these side-effects will resolve themselves after a few days, but with very deep facial peels the recovery time is much longer.
Facial peels are purely cosmetic in nature. They do not slow down the aging process, nor do they cure chronic skin conditions. Mild peels can be repeated every three to six months, but deeper peels require more time between procedures to allow the skin to recover and renew itself. As with any surgical procedure, consult with your doctor before undergoing a chemical facial peel. Make certain that your plastic surgeon is qualified and capable, and pay close attention to the information you'll receive regarding care and treatment for your face once the procedure has been completed.