I’ve seen a lot of over the counter facial peels. How are these different from chemical peels at a doctor’s office?
A chemical peel is a procedure in which a solution is applied to the skin to cause the top layers to separate and peel off. Depending on the solution used, the depth of the peel can vary. The over the counter chemical peel solutions are superficial peels often utilizing alpha hydroxyl acids (AHA) which removes only the top layers of the skin. These include active ingredients in low percentages that encourage exfoliation of the skin with improvement in skin texture, acne, mild discolorations and pigment irregularity. While many of these products are safe, it is important to exercise caution and research any product you apply to your face as they can cause significant damage if used inappropriately. The safest approach is to have a qualified physician evaluate you and make the appropriate recommendations. A chemical peel performed by a Dermatologist, Facial Plastic Surgeon and Plastic Surgeon is often deeper with a more significant and longer lasting result. The solutions used penetrate the deeper layers of the skin, which can improve wrinkles, scars, precancerous lesions, age spots and discoloration. Often these are phenol based peels that require monitoring or higher concentrations of TCA (Trichloracetic Acid). The deeper peels often require more downtime (1-2 weeks) then the superficial peels as the fresh new skin replaces the damaged layers that were removed.
-Dr. Jessica Kulak