Chemical Peels are seeing a resurgence in use. Popular since the 1960’s and 70’s they took a backseat for a while with all the innovation in the laser and light industry but they are now making a comeback, due in large part to their safety and the large variety of peels available to treat all skin types.Chemical Peels are of three types – superficial, medium and deep. These terms reflect how deep the peel penetrates into the skin. The skin has two layers that are of importance to us to understand peels – the epidermis and dermis. The epidermis is the thin superficial layer of the skin while the dermis is the thicker deeper layer.
The outermost layer of the epidermis, the Stratum Corneum, has an important bearing on how the skin looks. If the cells in this layer are more in number than normal or are disorganized, the skin will look rough, scaly or dull. Cells below this layer contain skin pigment scattered through them and the average turn over time of these cells is about a month. Pigment is produced by the lower layers and rises up through other cells of the skin as they move towards the surface ultimately dying and becoming cells of the Stratum Corneum.
The principal of ‘controlled damage’.
A peel helps in two ways –
a) It breaks the bonds between the cells of the Stratum Corneum thereby making them easier to shed, and
b) It increases cell turnover by encouraging the production of new skin cells; these cells are less pigmented and better organized than the older cells and as long as they are protected from UV light with regular sunscreen use they will remain lesser pigmented thereby causing skin lightening. At higher concentrations peels also stimulate collagen formation.