Chemical Peel for Pigmentation
Although there are a range of different methods, the concept involves applying a chemical solution that contains a particular type of acid, with the view of peeling off the skin surrounding the affected area. If you are considering undergoing the chemical peel procedure, then we would suggest you first read our guide. We will outline everything that you need to consider prior, during and after the procedure.
In a nutshell, a chemical peel is the process of applying an acid-based chemical solution to the patient’s skin in order to improve its appearance. The resurfacing procedure essentially removes the top layer of skin, subsequently allowing new skin to grow back in its place. Depending on the severity of the pigmentation, alongside your individual expectations, there are three main types of a chemical peel.
Light chemical peel:
A light chemical peel is the most basic of the three and involves the application of either a glycolic-based acid or alternatively, salicylic acid. This particular depth is usually performed every 2-5 weeks.
Medium chemical peel:
A medium chemical peel most commonly uses Trichloroacetic acid, however in some cases this will be combined with glycolic acid. A medium chemical peel is also quite often repeated, with some patients retuning every 3-9 months.
High chemical peel:
A deep chemical peel is the strongest of the three. Phenol acid is most commonly applied and the process is only utilized once. Moreover, due to the strength of the acid, the procedure is normally approached in short intervals.
On top of improving the appearance of pigmentation, a chemical peel can also be used for a range other issues
When discussing the tone and colour of an individual’s skin, we refer to this as pigment. Under normal circumstances, an individual’s pigment should contain equal amounts of melanin, which is the organic molecule that determines the complexion of the skin. However, when too much melanin is produced, the skin is accustomed to certain features, such as freckles, spots or patches, which resemble a darker colour than the rest of the skin.
If you are looking to undergo a chemical peel to improve the appearance of your pigmentation, please be advised that not everyone is a suitable candidate. Whilst in most cases a chemical peel is suitable for men and women of all ages, the following specificities might prevent you from undergoing the procedure.
- Your pigmentation is considered abnormal
- You skin colour has a dark complexion
- You regularly experience an outbreak of cold sores
- You have a history of overgrown keloids, otherwise known as scar tissue
Depending on your individual circumstances, such as pre-existing medical conditions or medication you are currently taking, you might also be unsuitable. The surgeon will discuss this with you during your consultation.
Before the procedure
If you decide to undergo the chemical peel for pigmentation process, you will first need to arrange a consultation with the surgeon. They will initially discuss your overall goals, along with your expectations. The surgeon will inform you what the results are likely to resemble.
The surgeon will then need to ask you a range of questions regarding your medical history, including any pre-existing conditions you might suffer from. Furthermore, a full break down of any medications or herbal supplements you have previously or are currently taking will need to be discussed, to ensure that you are suitable for the procedure.
In particular, a discussion on any conditions linked to the liver, heart or kidneys will be of utmost importance. Next, the surgeon will then proceed to perform a brief physical examination. This will focus on the area that you wish to have improved, along with the tone, thickness and complexion of your skin. Before the consultation concludes, you will also have the procedure explained in full, along with a discussion on the risks involved.
Preparing for the procedure
Prior to arriving at the practice for your chemical peel procedure, there are a number of things that you can do to ensure you are best prepared. If the surgeon deems it necessary, they may decide to prescribe you with a retinoid cream, which will need to be applied to the affected area. This can have the effect of not only reducing the length of the procedure, but also the time it takes to recover.
Moreover, in order to reduce the risks of skin darkening, the surgeon may also prescribe hydroquinone, which is a bleaching agent. If you suffer from Herpes around the mouth, then you might also be prescribed with an antiviral medication. This is utilized to prevent the breakout of a viral infection.
As will be advised by the surgeon, you also need to ensure that you do not use certain cosmetic treatments at least a week before for the procedure. Moreover, to ensure that you avoid long periods in the sun, the surgeon may suggest using a sunscreen product one month before the chemical peel. This is to prevent further irregularities with your skin pigmentation.
It is also important that you pre-arrange for somebody to collect you after the procedure, especially if undergoing a medium or deep peel, as you might need anaesthesia.
During the procedure
When you first arrive at the practice for your chemical peel for pigmentation, you will initially have your facial skin cleansed. If you are undergoing a light chemical peel, then it is usually not necessary to have anaesthesia administered. On the contrary, a medium or deep chemical peel may require the administering of anaesthesia, to ensure that the procedure remains pain-free.
The surgeon will then proceed to apply the acid-based chemical solution on to the top layer of your skin. You will most likely experience a slight stinging or tingling sensation in and around the affected area.
Whilst light chemical peels can take just a few minutes, more sever circumstances might require up to an hour and a half. If undergoing a deep peel, then this will be achieved in small intervals. The reason for this is that the acid solution behind applied is much stronger that the solution used for both a light and medium peel.
Once the chemical peel solution has performed its duties, the surgeon will then apply an ointment to soothe the affected area. In the case of a deep chemical peel, you will likely have a dressing applied to protect the skin.
After the procedure
Once the chemical peel procedure has been complete, there are some additional factors that you need to consider. A light chemical peel will most certainly result in redness around the treated area, which usually lasts for a few months. Your skin might also feel somewhat irritated, however, subsequent repeat procedures will reduce these effects. In most cases, you should have fully recovered from a light chemical peel after a week.
A medium chemical peel will also result in redness. There is also the possibility that your skin will feel swollen, with an element of stinging. A combination of suggested painkillers and the application of an ice pack will assist with any discomfort. You should heal from a medium peel within 1-2 weeks.
Most patients that undergo a deep chemical peel experience more sever redness and swelling. There is the possibility that you will encounter cysts after a deep peel, which usually disappear after a few weeks. Your newly grown skin should start to develop after a couple of weeks.
You must wait until the healing process is complete before applying cosmetic products around the affected area. You also need to protect yourself from the risks of sun damage, as this can further aggravate your skin pigmentation.
Common Concerns (Risks)
Although the associated risks of a chemical peel for pigmentation will be explained in full during your consultation, we have listed some of the most common below.
- Change in skin tone/complexion
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions we receive from potential candidates. If we have failed to answer a specific question or concern that you might have, please feel free to contact the practice.
How much does a chemical peel for pigmentation cost?
As there are a range of different chemical peel processes, each tailored to the specific circumstances of the individual patient, the underlying costs can vary. When you attend the practice for your consultation, the surgeon will be able to outline the full costs associated with the procedure.
How long does a chemical peel take?
The length of the procedure will depend on the type of chemical peel you are undergoing. Whilst a light chemical peel can take a few minutes, a deep peel can take as long as 1.5 hours.
Do I need to be sedated before undergoing a chemical peel?
Unless you are having a deep chemical peel, then it is highly likely that you will not need to be sedated. Whilst medium peels sometimes require a painkiller, light peels very rarely do.
Can I drive home after a chemical peel?
We would strongly advise you to pre-arrange transportation to collect you from the practice after the procedure has been completed.
Can a chemical peel help treat other factors affecting the appearance of my skin?
On top of pigmentation, a chemical peel is also widely used to improve the appearance of the skin in relation to acne and acne scars, wrinkles, uneven skin tone and dryness.
What type of chemical solution is applied during a chemical peel?
There are a range of acid-based solutions that may be used during a chemical peel. A light chemical peel usually utilizes either salicylic or glycolic acid, a medium peel usually requires trichloroacetic acid (and sometimes combined with glycolic acid) and in most cases, a deep chemical peel requires phenol acid. The type of solution will be discussed with you during your consultation.