Chemical Peels in London & UK

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A chemical peel can be defined as a cosmetic treatment that aims to improve the appearance of a person’s skin through the removal of the layers of dead skin cells. 

The process involves the application of a chemical solution onto a specified area of skin, most commonly the face or alternatively the hands, arms, neck, back or chest. This acidic chemical solution acts to accelerate the removal of dead skin cells from the epidermis (the upper layer of skin), which causes the cells to ‘peel off’. A similar peeling effect is experienced when you are sunburnt. This process is known as chemo exfoliation. The process of peeling acts to promote new cell growth within the epidermal (top) layer of the skin, thus the skin is left looking and feeling fresher than before the treatment, as the new skin cells replace the dead cells. Effectively the skin is left both rejuvenated and resurfaced through inducing a controlled wound, which after a certain period of time heals to reveal a beautified skin.

Chemical peels have been attributed as being able to aid numerous undesirable skin conditions. They function by:

  • Removing sunspots and rejuvenating sun damaged skin
  • Removing scaly patches
  • Removing patches of rough skin (keratoses)
  • Reducing the appearance of freckles
  • Reducing irregular skin pigmentation
  • Removing fine wrinkles
  • Reducing the appearance of superficial scars
  • Helping to treat superficial acne and surface level acne scars

There is also a great degree of speculation as to whether or not chemical peels can  help to remove pre-cancerous growths or to stimulate collagen production. Both have been suggested as potential functions. 

A historically effective treatment

Thousands of years ago members of ancient civilisations including the Romans underwent chemical peels by lathering themselves in various food substances, including grapes and sour milk. The infamously beautiful Egyptian Pharaoh Cleopatra practised the art of chemical peeling by regularly bathing in a bath full of sour goat’s milk.  Although she did not realise it , it was the lactic acid contained within the sour milk that was acting as the active ingredient to leave her skin feeling rejuvenated.

Which chemicals are commonly used?

When you are treated with a chemical peel it will either be a superficial (light) peel, a medium depth peel or alternatively a deep peel.  In comparison superficial peels produce subtle results upon first treatment and therefore those who receive this type of peel often need to book a return appointment to increase the significance of the results. Contrastingly, being treated with a deep peel is considered to be a ‘once in a lifetime’ procedure. Medium depth peels have effects which exist somewhere between the two.

Superficial peels can be performed by a nurse or beauty therapist whereas deeper peels require greater expertise to perform. Hence it is usually the role of either a plastic surgeon or a dermatologist to carry out a deep peel. This is principally due to the greater risk factor involved when treated with a deep peel, such as a phenol peel.   The majority of doctors, surgeons and nurses alike are trained to be able to provide a chemical peel treatment, as it has become a commonplace skin treatment.

The term superficial peel can be transposed with it’s chemical ingredients, thus you may often hear a superficial peel referred to as a Glycolic Peel, a AHA Peel (Alpha Hydroxy acid ) or alternatively a BHA (Beta Hydroxy acid) Peel. Furthermore medium depth peels commonly use TCA (Trichloroacteic acid) and a Phenol Peel is a variant of a deep chemical peel.

The stages involved in a chemical peel treatment are fundamentally the same regardless of the strength of peel. Firstly, the acidic solution is painted onto the client’s skin along with additional coatings if necessary. This is then left to dissolve the dead skin cells, when the chemicals have reached their required depth then a neutralizing solution is applied to prevent further peeling. With deeper peels an anaesthetic is sometimes given to the client to relive any pain prior to the treatment, this is not required for superficial or medium depth peels which are essentially painless.  After the chemical peel your skin will temporarily appear reddish in hue and the skin will start to peel off after a few days. After a period of downtime, longest for deep peels, your skin will appear to be freshened.

Having a chemical peel does have the permanent side effect of increasing the skin’s weakness to UV rays, as you will have lost layers of skin. However, a good sun care routine can be implemented into your skin care routine to maintain the newly achieved beautiful quality of your skin.

The effectiveness of each chemical peel is reflected in the price range, you would expect the deep peel to be the most expensive as these results in greater skin improvement. However recovery times are the longest for deeper peels and the risk of complications arising is also much higher.

Limitations & risks with Chemical Peels

It is important to recognise that a chemical peel is not a substitute for a facelift, although they are often used in conjunction with such procedures in order to ‘freshen’ the skin.  Unlike facelifts chemical peels are unable to tighten loose skin, they do not remove sections of skin. Moreover, even deep chemical peels may not remove the deepest of wrinkles or scars.  You may be lead to research alternative methods to achieve rejuvenated skin, including yet not restricted to: laser resurfacing, dermal-fillers and microdermabrasion. In terms of potential side effects and risks, chemical peels are not to be greatly feared. If properly performed then the risk of such rare side effects as: hyperpigmentation, hypopigmentation, scarring, acne and chemical burns, is significantly lower. Therefore home chemical peels, wherein the chemicals purchased are of a lower concentration are more risky due to the fact that proper training in administering  a chemical peel is unlikely to have been undergone.

Reasons for having Chemical Peels »