What to Expect during a Chemical Skin Peel for Acne


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Before your chemical peel you should be talked though the entire procedure by your consultant of practitioner. Make sure that you feel confident about your peel and that you ask any questions you might have about the process before the day of your treatment. Every treatment is slightly different and depends on your practitioner, your requirements and your skin. This section, however, should outline the basic steps of your procedure.

What to Expect during an AHA or light TCA Chemical Peel

This kind of peel is usually performed in your practitioner’s office. Once you arrive your practitioner should consult you about exactly what you hope the peel will achieve. They will then examine your skin and quiz you about your medical background and your lifestyle to ensure that you are suitable for the treatment. You should then be asked whether or not you have been following the preparation instructions given to you at your consultation. For example, whether you have been taking antiviral medication or whether you have stopped smoking. Once your practitioner is happy they will then talk you though the process, including its risks and side effects, before ensuring you are happy and that you have no concerns or questions.

Then the procedure will begin. You will be asked to lie down in a comfortable position and you will be given any necessary pain relief. This will have been agreed upon at your consultation. Your skin will be prepared for the peel by thoroughly cleaning it, perhaps with a solution containing alcohol. Once any pain control you are on has taken effect, your practitioner will then apply the chemical peel to the required area of your skin using a brush, cotton pad, swab or sponge. The chemical will then be left on your skin. If you are not using pain control you may experience some stinging and a hot sensation during this time. Your practitioner will then watch carefully to see the exact moment when the peel needs to be removed.

As a general rule, AHA will require no anaesthesia and will be left on the skin for around 10-15 minutes. TCA may require some level of sedation and the time it is left on the skin is left to the practitioner’s discretion.

Once the peel has been removed your skin should be treated with a soothing ointment. No further treatment is necessary for AHA peels. You should be given detailed instructions about how to care for your recovering skin before you leave. If your TCA peel has been particularly strong you may need to arrange for a ride home.

What to Expect during a Heavy TCA or Phenol Chemical Peel

A Phenol peel will be performed in exactly the same way as an AHA or TCA peel, however, due to the more serious nature of the peel, general anaesthesia is sometimes required. Once all the formalities have been completed you will be placed under general anaesthetic. This is usually administered though a needle injected into your arm.

While you are unconscious the peel will be performed. Often with a Phenol peel large areas are treated in small sections, one at a time, in order to reduce the potentially harmful effect of the peel on your heart and lungs.

After your peel is complete your skin will be treated with petroleum jelly or a waterproof dressing and you will be left to regain consciousness. Once you are awake, you will be able to leave as soon as your practitioner judges that you are sufficiently recovered from the anaesthetic. You must have someone available to drive you home after a Phenol peel.


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