The earliest use of caustic preparations for peeling procedures was described in the Egyptian medicine in the Egyptian Papyrus Ebers. In ancient Egypt, queen Cleopatra was said to bathe in sour milk; the lactic acid contained in the milk was the active ingredient providing her with a rejuvenating peel. In France, women used to bathe in very old wine, which contains tartaric acid. The history of modern peeling, though, started about a hundred years ago.
Chemical peelings represent accelerated exfoliation or skin damage induced by chemical agents that cause controlled damage to the skin. They are classified into superficial/light, medium-depth, or deep, depending upon the type of peeling used and the result we want to achieve.
What are the benefits of a peeling treatment?
It offers a youthful, fresh appearance as it improves any type of skin with fine lines and wrinkles, broken blood vessels, age spots, or accumulated sun damage. Of course, it cannot stop natural skin aging and, sometimes, it should be combined with other anti-aging and rejuvenating procedures, such as laser resurfacing, Botox, and hyaluronic acid, to get optimum aesthetic results.
Before a chemical peeling, your therapist will give you instructions on how you will need to begin preparing your skin, so that the results be better and the procedure be done with maximum safety. Some deep peelings require preparation up to one month before the actual procedure. You should be fully aware of your options, the risks of the treatment and its benefits.
During the procedure, the patient might feel a slight burning or stinging sensation, depending upon the sensitivity of the individual, the strength and type of peel used, and of course the use of a topical numbing cream beforehand. Peelings with AHA [alpha hydroxy acids] (fruit acids), or TCA [Trichloroacetic acid] might cause some discomfort during the treatment procedure, while Phenol (Carbolic acid) might make the patient experience some malaise even after the treatment. A chemical peeling is a simple process, 10-15 minutes is enough time for its completion.
When the acid is applied onto the area to be treated, the patient might feel a sensation of pulling, exfoliation, and their skin might be red and dry; effects that gradually lessen within the next couple of days. This can last from three to seven days, depending upon the depth of peeling. In deep peels, subsiding of side effects may last from ten days to one month in treatments that are performed once a year. It is recommended, though, that modern women should opt for superficial peelings, as they require virtually no recovery time. Though the skin may be mildly irritated after the peel, patients can return to their daily activities immediately after treatment. After treatment, it is imperative that the patient remember to use an effective moisturizer and sun protection on a daily basis until all crusting is gone and the new, regenerated skin emerges.
You should also know that there are special peeling treatments for spots, wrinkles, acne scars, melasma, acne, skin regeneration, photoaging etc. Depending on the outcome we wish to achieve, they may be combined with other Aesthetic Dermatology procedures or with topical or systemic treatments. Beware! Never have such a treatment performed unless you have a week ahead before you make the appearance you wish.