Chemical Peels in Maryland: Benefits And Risks
If there were a magic pill to get smooth, flawless skin, we would take it. This wish is often due the years of photodamage, dirt, acne, and other countless reasons. Until the time comes when we can indeed take a pill or elixir to immediately transform our skin, we have to use the tools at our disposal. Chemical peels are one such tool that dermatologists have used for decades to treat a variety of medical and cosmetic skin issues. If you are looking for chemical peels in Maryland, it’s important you understand the benefits and risks.
Understanding chemical peels
Chemical peels have been around for hundreds, even thousands of years. In recent decades, they’ve been a part of your dermatologist or esthetician’s toolkits. They once had a bad rep, no thanks to outlandish myths like in Sex and the city. Today, more and more people are seeking them out because of the amazing benefits and minimal risks.
Chemical peels involve using a chemical solution (containing an acid or a combination of acids) on the face, neck, or even upper chest and back areas. The process improves the skin’s appearance by removing the dead, dull skin that we see when we look in the mirror. Our bodies usually turn this dead skin over but like every machine, it can slow down with age. Chemical peels come in different strengths and can impact different layers of your skin. Each type can tackle different skin issues you’ll face.
What can your chemical peel treat?
If you’re looking for chemical peels in Maryland, you are probably dealing with one or more of the following issues:
- Acne scars
- Wrinkles and other signs of aging like Crow’s feet, and smile lines
- Hyperpigmentation and photoaging due to excess sun exposure
- Melasma, age spots, and liver spots
- Dull skin
- Precancerous growths
Each condition benefits from different peels depending on the severity of your condition. There are three types of chemical peels: light peels, medium peels, and deep peels. These peels have different concentrations and should be handled by a board-certified dermatologist or esthetician.
Let’s talk about the benefits of chemical peels in Maryland
There are lots of questions that patients have when it comes to chemical peels. Some are already aware of what a chemical peel does for their skin but most hear about it for the first time from their provider. Superficial, medium and deep peels each have amazing benefits.
Benefits of a light chemical peel
Light chemical peels address the epidermal or topmost layer of your skin, particularly the stratum corneum. These peels are gentle and can be used on almost any skin type, even those with sensitive skin. If you have minor skin issues or you’re looking for a refresh before a major event, light chemical peels are for you. These usually consist of alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) or beta hydroxy acids (BHAs). Some common examples include:
- Salicylic acid: This is a beta-hydroxy acid that’s found in plants like willow bark. BHAs are oil-soluble, perfect for exfoliating while clearing the oil and dirt in your pores. It makes salicylic acid peels great for clearing up mild acne and reducing future breakouts. Your doctor will use a 20% or 30% salicylic acid solution for the best results.
- Mandelic acid: An alpha-hydroxy acid that comes from bitter almonds, mandelic acid is a gentle exfoliator. It breaks up the bonds that hold dead skin cells, allowing them to slough off naturally. It also brightens your skin, reduces your acne, and has anti-aging properties. Because mandelic acid is gentler, dermatologists use between 30% to 40% for superficial peels.
- Glycolic acid: Another AHA, glycolic acid is a colorless and odorless compound that comes from sugarcane. If you’re looking to manage hyperpigmentation, melasma, sun spots, mild wrinkles, and mild acne scars. Light peels use 20% to 30% glycolic acid.
- Lactic acid: One of the oldest chemical peels dating thousands of years, lactic acid comes from sour milk and is a gentle, yet effective chemical peel. It can address the same issues as other AHAs and is a great exfoliator. Your dermatologist will use between 10%-30% lactic acid solution.
Light peels can brighten your skin, remove mild acne blemishes, and sunspots. There is also the added benefit of improving the effectiveness of your skincare products. These peels are also perfect for dark skin and people of color, as they can gently exfoliate without damaging the skin.
Benefits of a medium peel
Medium peels impact the deeper layers of the epidermis and the top layers of the dermis. These peels are great for moderate to severe skin conditions that light peels cannot handle. If you have deeper acne scars, long-term hyperpigmentation, wrinkles, and signs of aging, medium peels are for you. Patients with lighter skin shades with no pre-existing skin issues are also great candidates.
Some of the acids used for light peels are also used for medium peels. The difference is the percentage concentration or the length of time your dermatologist leaves the solution on your skin. Common examples are salicylic acid over 30% concentration and glycolic acid up to 70% concentration.
Trichloroacetic acid (TCA) is another popular solution used for medium peels. It comes from acetic acid which is found in vinegar. TCA helps break up keratin, allowing dead skin cells to fall off. This is great for deeper acne scars, hyperpigmentation, deeper wrinkles, and sunspots. Providers use between 30% – 50% TCA to treat more severe issues.
For medium peels, your doctor may have you use other light peels several weeks before the medium peel to prepare the skin.
Deep peels have benefits too
Doctors only use deep chemical peels in specific cases as they impact the deeper parts of the dermis. If handled incorrectly, deep peels can cause irreparable damage. Candidates for deep peels include people with deep, severe scarring, deep wrinkles, or severe damage due to hyperpigmentation. Patients with possible precancerous growths may also benefit from deep peels. Again, these peels should only be used by a board-certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon.
Deep peels are done under general anesthesia and take several weeks for recovery. The patient must also prep the skin for several weeks before the procedure with mild peels. Your dermatologist will use Phenol peels (carbolic acid) to penetrate the deep layers of your skin and clear up severe issues. The results can last several years and in most cases, only one session is necessary.
All three peels can address mild to severe wrinkles, fine lines, photoaging, and much more.
Understanding the risks
With any cosmetic or medical procedure, there are some risks. Your doctor will describe all the risks involved and some possible solutions if they should come to pass. To avoid severe complications, women who are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding should not have chemical peels. The same goes for patients with existing skin conditions that are undergoing separate treatment, keloid skin, or certain existing medical conditions. At Eternal Dermatology + Aesthetics, we do a thorough consultation of all candidates looking for chemical peels in Maryland. Some other risks include:
Patients may get some uncomfortable side effects.
There is a chance you’ll experience redness, swelling, and irritation for a few days after the procedure. These symptoms are more intense as you move from light peels to medium peels. The discomfort should subside after a few days. If necessary, apply a cold compress to the affected area and avoid scratching the skin.
It may look worse before it looks better.
A few days after your peel, your skin will start to peel away to go along with the redness and irritation. This could look a bit unnerving at first, but it’s an important part of the process. Picking or peeling off the skin with your hands will irritate the fresh skin underneath and transfer bacteria which can more easily penetrate your skin. Make sure to moisturize with clean hands at least twice daily to keep your skin healthy and avoid irritation.
With deep peels, there is extended downtime.
Deep phenol peels require downtime of at least 2 weeks. There could be severe redness, swelling, and irritation during that time. Your dermatologist or plastic surgeon will bandage the skin and advise you of the treatment options to reduce pain and speed up healing. Deep peels are a high-risk procedure and some people can end up with scarring if used incorrectly.
Chemical peels can damage your skin (if used incorrectly)
Chemical peels are supposed to keep your skin healthy but they can do the opposite as well. If the wrong concentration goes on the wrong skin type, the result can be post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, uneven skin tone, or scarring. At-home chemical peels are rising in popularity and with it comes the chances of error.
They are now easily accessible
Different skincare brands have introduced chemical peel to the market. For some, the concentration is on par with the chemical peels your dermatologist will use in the office. Chemical peels require both nuance and experience. A peel placed in the wrong measurements for the wrong timeframe can have a long-term impact. Despite the accessibility, make sure to lean on the experience of a dermatologist, plastic surgeon, or esthetician.
You’ll need to stay clear of the sun
Sorry, but there will be no fun in the sun for a little while. Chemical peels expose the more sensitive layers of your skin to the sun’s strong UV rays. Prolonged exposure increases the chances of sun spots and hyperpigmentation. If you have to go in the sun before recovery, use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. The deeper the chemical peel, the more crucial this step is to avoid long-term damage.
They can be costly
Compared to other procedures, a single chemical peel session is quite cost-effective. However, some treatments require several peels lasting several weeks. The total cost can add up, so make sure to keep this in account when looking for chemical peels in Maryland. Unfortunately, chemical peels are not covered under most insurance providers, especially for cosmetic purposes.
The benefits of chemical peels far outweigh the risks and disadvantages. Most of these side effects are temporary and go away with the appearance of a fresh layer of skin. You can also avoid most of these disadvantages with proper aftercare such as moisturizing and sunscreen. Chemical peels have high success rates and satisfaction rates. Most patients are repeat customers. These patients are often great advocates for the procedure and refer friends and family as well. When done under the guidance of a trained professional, you’ll experience all of the benefits with little downside.
Get the most out of your chemical peel
Chemical peels in Maryland can transform your skin by treating acne, scars, pigmentation, and much more. By speeding up the removal of troublesome skin layers, you’ll get some spectacular results. With any procedure, there are benefits and risks. To minimize your risk, consider visiting our board-certified dermatologist Dr. Ife Rodney, MD, FAAD. She’s the founder of Eternal Dermatology +Aesthetics and specializes in chemical peels, particularly for women of color. By coming up with a right chemical peel treatment, your skin will look and feel refreshed. Schedule a quick consultation or chemical peel appointment today. We serve patients in the Fulton, Howard County, Silver Springs, and Maryland areas.