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Chemical Peels

What is a Medical Grade Chemical Peel?

A chemical peel is a process where a chemical compound (usually a mild acid) is applied to the skin to induce its natural rejuvenation process.  This exposes a new fresh layer of skin by exfoliating and removing the outer layer of skin cells, which gives the skin a fresher, smoother and more even appearance.  There are several different types of peels that may be applied by a dermatologist and include:

Usually an alpha-hydroxy acid (glycolic acid, lactic acid) or beta-hydroxy acid (salicylic acid) is applied to the skin for a superficial, light exfoliation.  Often called “lunch-time peels” there is minimal downtime and low risk of side effects.  These can be beneficial for acne, blemishes, smoothing texture and evening skin color.  Low strength trichloroacetic acid (TCA) and Jessner’s solution may also be used. 

Often Jessner’s solution or 70% glycolic acid is applied in tandem with 35% TCA that penetrates to the mid layer of skin (deep papillary dermis) for a more noticeable improvement in moderate sun damage, wrinkles (also known as rhytides), discoloration and some pre-cancerous growths (actinic keratoses). 

This is applied by a physician while you are closely monitored for heart arrhythmias (irregular heart beat) and given intravenous fluids.   A deep peel penetrates deeper into the skin (mid reticular dermis).  Because of this, there is typically dramatic improvement in severe sun damage and deep wrinkles.  However, there can be prolonged downtime while the skin heals over about a month or longer.  These peels have an increased risk for heart issues (thus requiring monitoring), scarring and discoloration.  Usually a deep peel is only done once.

Who is a Good Candidate for a Medical Grade Peel?

People who desire improvement in skin texture, acne/blemishes, uneven skin color or fine lines may notice benefit from chemical peels.  Peels may be applied to the face, neck, upper chest (décolletage) or hands.  With superficial chemical peels, the best results are achieved with a series of 3-6 treatments. 

At Iowa Dermatology Consultants, a board-certified dermatologist will evaluate your skin and choose the best peel to meet your needs.  We provide superficial and some medium depth peels in our office.  As with all cosmetic treatments, results will vary depending on your skin type/color, age, health and amount of sun damage.  Peels should be avoided in pregnant or breastfeeding women, those with active skin infections or history of severe scarring or keloids.

What to Expect From a Medical Grade Peel.

At your appointment, you will be asked to wash your face thoroughly to remove makeup, dirt and oils.  A nurse will prepare the skin with a prepping solution prior to application of the peeling agent.  You will experience some mild to moderate burning or stinging during the application process, which lasts a few minutes.  A hand-held fan may be used for your comfort.  The application process takes about 20 minutes.

At Iowa Dermatology Consultants, we use Vitalize Peels® for a superficial peeling treatment.  You will notice a slight orange discoloration to the skin following treatment.  This resolves after several hours.  After about 2 days, the skin will start to have mild to moderate peeling (desquamation) and redness. This typically lasts for 4-7 days.   You may use a moisturizer and sunscreen following treatment.  It is strongly recommended that you avoid sun and/or wear a SPF 30+ sunscreen for at least 2 weeks following the chemical peel.  These peels may be repeated every 3-4 weeks and best results are seen with 3-6 treatments.

Side effects following superficial peels are uncommon and typically transient.  These include redness, skin sensitivity/burning, and uneven discoloration, which usually resolve in a few days to weeks.  You may have increased sun sensitivity following a peel and sun avoidance and sunscreen are strongly recommended.  Rarely, scarring, cold sores or other skin infections may occur after a chemical peel.  If you have a history of cold sores or abnormal scarring, you should discuss this with your dermatologist prior to treatment.

If you are considering a chemical peel, make an appointment with one of our dermatologists at Iowa Dermatology Consultants to discuss options and pricing.

Additional Chemical Peel Resources

Links to Additional Information:

American Academy of Dermatology Chemical Peel Videos

Why Iowa Dermatology Consultants?

Iowa Dermatology Consultants believes undergoing a cosmetic procedure is not just about your appearance and convenience. It is about your health and safety.  A board-certified dermatologist has the medical training and experience required to keep skin healthy and youthful-looking. They work with patients forming an active partnership in treatment to help you look and feel your best.

At Iowa Dermatology Consultants, all of our physicians are board-certified dermatologists. This means that Dr. Snider, Dr. Smith,  and Dr. Myers have the education, expertise and experience to safely and effectively reduce the signs of aging. Together they have almost 50 years of combined experience in medical and cosmetic dermatology.  This includes over 16,000 hours of patient care training to ensure that a board-certified dermatologist can expertly diagnosis and treat over 3000 dermatologic conditions.

Because your results depend largely on the skill and experience of the person performing the procedure, it is important to select a board-certified dermatologist like those at Iowa Dermatology Consultants.